Nike made two big announcements recently, a new generation of the Nike+ FuelBand and the next "evolution" of the Nike TechStars accelerator, called the Nike Fuel Lab.
The FuelBand SE is Nike's first major update to the FuelBand, which launched at the beginning of 2012. The device is very much an update, and only subtly modifies either the design or the philosophy of the Nike+ FuelBand.
Notably, it adds sleep tracking, a feature that Fitbit and Jawbone's wristbands have had for a while. The movement tracking algorithms have also been improved, according to Nike, partly to make it harder to "cheat" Fuel points, for instance by punching the air. The new device is Bluetooth Smart-connected and more water resistant than the original (though still not waterproof). The on-device interface has been streamlined, making it easier for users to do things like check the time.
A number of new software features lets users track their activity in new ways, while still working within the framework of Nike Fuel, the virtual currency users earn by being active. The FuelBand SE tracks "Fuel Rate," which is the rate at which Fuel points are earned. Users can also see how much Fuel they earned at a particular activity with a feature called "Sessions," or track movement hour-by-hour with "Win the Hour."
The FuelBand SE will be available November 6 for $149 -- the same price as the first generation FuelBand. As MobiHealthNews predicted, the device does not feature heart rate tracking of any kind as rumored, nor did the announcement contain any hint of future Android compatibility.
The Nike Fuel Lab is very similar to Nike's accelerator launched last year in partnership with TechStars, with the goal of supporting companies that would build applications for the Nike Fuel API. Last year's accelerator was based near Nike headquarters in Portland, Oregon, but the Fuel Lab will be in San Francisco. Also, while companies in the previous accelerator received $20,000, the new program will give out $50,000 to its 10 chosen companies. TechStars does not appear to be involved in the new program.
The Fuel Lab will run 12 weeks, and companies will receive workspace, education and mentorship, and access to Nike's APIs and SDKs. Notably, Nike stipulates that companies in the program must be ready to launch, with Nike+ integration, by the end of the program. Nike will take 3 percent equity in participating companies.
Perhaps in advance of the Christmas shopping season, a number of new fitness wearables have launched recently. The Nike FuelBand SE announcement comes right on the heels of the announcement Fitbit's latest tracker, the Fitbit Force, and just today Fitbug launched its Orb device. According to recently released data from Juniper Research, the market for mobile smart wearable devices, including consumer fitness wearables, will hit $19 billion by 2018.