The Rise of Sensor-Based Apps and Wearables
I’m a big fan of sensor-based apps and personal wearables, as they bring with them vast potential for utilizing motivational data, content and feedback loops for things like self-improvement, optimal health and ultimately the gamification of every day life.
Nike has been playing a leadership role in this area for a few years now with their Nike+ sensor and app, and they are stepping it up once again with the release of the new Nike+ FuelBand.
While not perfect, the FuelBand has some very nice design features, and brings a new metric approach for motivating users to be active throughout the day.
The Nike+ Fuel Band tracks your daily activity using an internal accelerometer (which senses your movement). Time, Calories, Steps and NikeFuel are all tracked. The new “Fuel” metric is interesting and unique to Nike, as it matches a person’s movement through the wristband’s accelerometer against data collected on how rapidly oxygen is consumed. This may not be the best way to track fitness, as it still relies primarily on an accelerometer, and the readings will vary greatly depending on how much you move your arm. If you were to ride a bike the sensor would probably read this activity as burning less Fuel than if you were sitting in a chair just waving your hand around.
While, I am not yet sold that the Fuel Band will be a big hit, or that it brings tremendous value for the price, I am impressed with what it represents as a sign of where things are going in sensor-based wearables and apps. We are only getting started.
As chip prices keep coming down, and sensors keep getting smaller, they will get embedded in more and more wearables, such as watches, clothing, jewelry… and the feedback displays will likely end up moving onto our eyewear and sunglasses, utilizing heads-up-display technology. This is when things get even more interesting from my standpoint. The user can now have an always-on feedback loop, monitoring things like heart-rate, and eventually things like stress levels, blood pressure and more.
Once we start to gamily the feedback loops, or one can imagine how achieving our optimal health will become much more manageable and fun with such tech. Signs that this world is not so far off can be seen with announcements like this one, for Googles HUD Glasses.
I’d love to hear from people focused in this field professionally, and get your take on the state of this industry, and where things are going. As Ogmento continues to develop Location-Based Augmented Reality games and content, the convergence of these two worlds in a few years is inevitable.