Even at this early stage of the wearable device market, companies are already trying to differentiate their products while also capitalizing on brand loyalty. For example, Nike’s Fuel band tracks activities and calories burned, turning those data points into “fuel” points. UnderArmour is joining the game with its own gadget called the Armour39 Fitness Strap, but it can’t measure fuel, since Nike already does. So instead, the Armour39 calculates your “WILLPower.”
The $149.99 chest strap is available now for pre-order with delivery this spring. A module in the strap tracks and stores up to 16 hours of heart rate and caloric information. The data can transfer to an optional $199.99 watch or to a mobile phone app on handsets that are Bluetooth Smart capable. The product page explains WILLPower as the combination of “how long you workout, what you did, profile info like gender and weight, and key heart rate measures to give you a single score.”
If I don’t sound enamored by artificial scores for basic fitness data, it’s because I’m not. These numbers only hide the real data that people should know about: caloric expenditure, heart rate training zones, etc. I’m all for simplifying such information if it helps people work out with fewer complications, don’t misunderstand. But as each new health gadget comes to market, it appears as though the real difference is the fake scoring system that’s easiest to market. It just seems silly to me.
I don’t doubt you can get healthier with a Fuel band, Armour39 or other similar device. However, I’ll stick with the basics: A Bluetooth 4.0 heart monitor strap that works with basic apps and a smart watch or phone to actually tell me my heart rate and calories burned.