Nike reveals updated Fuelband SE as wearable market predicted to hit $19bn in 2018

More companies are introducing wearable devices that help users track their fitness, though Nike's leading brand position gives it an edge
  • @jjvincent

Nike has revealed the second generation of its activity tracking Fuelband, with the updated device – dubbed the Fuelband SE – available in a range of colours and offering greater capacity to track its users.

The original Fuelband was launched in 2012 alongside a companion app for iOS devices. The wristband uses a bundle of sensors to record the wearer’s movements, with the app then providing daily goals through a “fuel” score.

The updated Fuelband SE includes Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity (an iteration of Bluetooth that uses less power and allows for automatic data syncing with a connected smartphone), improved sensors that can more effectively differentiate between exercise and casual movement, and the capacity to track a greater range of specific activities – including cycling, rowing and yoga.

Available in a range of colours (these are Pink, Crimson, Black and Volt – aka yellowy-green), the Fuelband SE costs £95 and can be pre-ordered ahead of its 6 November release.

Minor updates have also been made to help encourage regular activity from users. A new setting can be enabled that prompts individuals to get up and walk around once every hour, whilst “3.2.1. GO! Sessions” allows users to track how much they move in specific sessions – such as a morning run.

As well as the new colours, the hardware has also been improved to offer better water resistance (though Nike still advise against using the Fuelband in the swimming pool), although there is still no official Android companion app. Those without an Apple device will have to sync their data with a computer instead.

Nike+ FuelBand App2.jpg
An update for the Nike Fuelband app adds a 'Fuel Curve' that graphs users' hourly movements.

Running with the pack

However, Nike is just one player in the growing market for wearable fitness devices. A recent report from Juniper Research judged that the retail revenue of the  sector is currently $1.4bn (£878m) but this is expected to grow to $19bn by 2018.

Competitors include the Jawbone UP (a device created by industrial design star Yves Behar that doesn't include any visible display) and a range of devices created by FitBit. The most recent wearable from FitBit was launched last week, with the improved FitBit Force also showing the convergence between these wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Like the Fuelband, the FitBit Force is a flexible wristband with an embedded display (OLED for the Force, LED for the Fuelband) that allows users to check the time and their current fitness stats. The Force also includes an altimeter to track climbs (be they mountains or stairs) as well as Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.

As well as dedicated wearables, there is also a slow-creep of activity sensors into mobile devices. Apple exemplified this trend with the inclusion the M7 sensor in the new iPhone 5s; this dedicated chip means the smartphone can track movement passively without draining battery power.

Many wearable devices - including the Fuelband and the FitBit Force - also allow users to track their sleep.