For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results

For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results

By NICK BILTON via The Wall Street Journal

My Nike FuelBand read lazy. My friend’s read fit.

But we had done essentially the same thing. We spent the day walking around San Francisco together — the same number of miles, same number of hills — but for whatever reason, our FuelBands were out of step. His registered thousands of steps more than mine did.

That’s the uncomfortable truth about many of the fitness wristbands you see people wearing. They don’t really work — or at least not as well as their manufacturers would have you believe.

So maybe it is no surprise that Nike laid off a big part of its FuelBand team this month. As other companies dive into wearable devices, Nike is pulling back. Why? Nike told me the FuelBand would remain an important part of its business, but the company would be focusing on apps, not hardware.

The reality is that many devices claiming to monitor fitness and health probably overpromise and underdeliver. Jim McDannald, a podiatrist and health and fitness technology writer at The Wirecutter, a technology testing website, said many of these devices are more about marketing than medical understanding.

”People are getting fitness-tracker fatigue,” Mr. McDannald told me. In large part, it’s because many of these devices are simply inaccurate. You may have burned more — or fewer — calories than they say. Or, in my case, walked more steps.

“Even a cheap pedometer is more accurate than these wristband trackers,” Mr. McDannald said, though he acknowledged that wristbands do push people to get up off the couch.

And don’t get him started on sleep trackers. His take on those devices: “ridiculous.” The only one he has found that works well is the Basis B1 band, which has a built-in heart-rate monitor. The rest, he said, rely mostly on guesswork.

Tell me about it.

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One response to “For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results

  1. Pingback: Yes, Fitness Bands Are Imprecise. So What? | Sean Dreznin's Blog

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