Category Archives: Wearable Technology

Wearable Technology

FitBit, FuelBand & Running Apps For Good Causes

I’m a big fan of the various trackers out there. I’m also a fan of making the world a better place. I’m also a sysadmin so intrinsically lazy. I haven’t yet figured out how to bot my way to a studleyrific body yet, but I have figured out a few things that allow me to donate to charities without actually doing anything I wasn’t already doing anyway using my FitBit and my FuelBand (yes, I’m still wearing both — I’m like Brett Favre making up my mind here). So here are a few sites I’ve been tinkering with:

  • EveryMove: This app is trying to do too much. But it also does a lot. Go figure. You can earn “rewards” using this app, put your insurance carrier in, add your employer (I’m guessing for emergency contacts in case you get wiped out on a run?!?!), put your gym in, integrate with Twitter and Facebook, use the app as a social network instead and most importantly for this article, earn rewards that are donations to one of a few different causes. Integrates with Foursquare so you get “points” for going to the gym, FitBit, Moves, Nike+ (running, not FuelBand) and MyFitnessPal as well.
  • Nexercise: As with the above app, you work out and opt to donate your points. But, this one isn’t integrated with all the wearables, so I don’t use it nearly as much. You manually enter your workouts and then they credit you with points, which are redeemable for a number of things, including donations to causes.
  • Earndit: This is a site, not an app. You can integrate with FitBit, Moves, Nike+ (running) and FourSquare to track trips to the gym. Use points and challenges to donate to charity.
  • GoFitCause: This isn’t an app, it’s a site. A World Fit For Kids! (WFIT) provides purposeful physical activity and action-learning opportunities that help youth develop the knowledge, skills and confidence required to make healthy choices that last a lifetime. Basically “pledges” your NikeFuel to the cause.
  • Set a goal, or organize a match, get people to donate if you meet your goal and then do some stuff. Good stuff. Doesn’t sync with the FitBit or Nike+, but you can enter your data.
  • CharityMiles: This app gives you a very small thing to do to help donate to a few different causes. My favorite part about this app is they actually tell you exactly what you’re earning: “Bikers earn 10¢ a mile and walkers and runners earn 25¢ a mile, up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.” It doesn’t seem like much, but if you run a lot and you get others who do to join in on it, then it adds up.
  • Run4Good: You can tell by the name that it’s a good thing. Run4Good is by Saucony so it doesn’t integrate with any of the Nike+ stuff, so I don’t really use this a lot. But you are helping to fight childhood obesity each time you go for a run using this app. You can create Teams, win trophies and check stats. You can also integrate with Facebook and Twitter. But don’t.
  • Weightless Project: Convert your FitBit calories to donations to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Wearable Technology

Nike+ FuelBand SE Trophies

The FuelBand SE has way more Nike+ Trophies than the original FuelBand had. Since I keep having to hover over things in the

  • Water – Beat your daily goal by 50%
  • Ice – Double your daily goal
  • Fire – Beat your daily goal by 150%
  • Rainbow – Triple your daily goal
  • Supernova – Quadruple your daily goal
  • Alpine – Earn 8,000 Nike Fuel in a day
  • Arctic – Earn 10,000 Nike Fuel in a day
  • Volcanic – Earn 15,000 Nike Fuel in a day
  • Galactic – Earn 20,000 Nike Fuel in a day
  • Streak Week – Hit your daily goal 7 days in a row
  • Fortnight – Hit your daily goal 14 days in a row
  • 30/30 Club – Hit your daily goal 30 days in a row
  • Half Century – Hit your daily goal 50 days in a row
  • Century Streak – Hit your daily goal 100 days in a row
  • Every Damn Day – Hit your daily goal for a full year
  • Perfect Day – Earn 2700 Nike Fuel in a day and win 16 hours
  • Great 8 – Win 8 hours in a day
  • Supersonic – Earn 18 Nike Fuel per minute for 30 minutes straight
  • New You – Hit your daily goal on New Year’s Day
  • Noisemaker – Hit your daily goal on New Year’s Eve
  • Birthday Treat – Hit your daily goal on your birthday
  • Year of the NikeFuel – Hit your daily goal on Chinese New Year
  • Cupid’s Arrow – Hit your daily goal on Valentine’s Day
  • Time Machine – Hit your daily goal on 3/9/14
  • Cinco de Fuelo – Hit your daily goal on Cinco de Mayo
  • Star Spangled – Hit your daily goal on July 4th
  • Trick or Treat – Hit your daily goal on Halloween
  • Gobble Gobble – Hit your daily goal on Thanksgiving

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Awards unlocked at point levels (number of Nike Fuel required to unlock in parenthesis):

  • Wake Up Call (10,000) – Earn 1,500 Nike Fuel from 3am to 7am
  • Top 10 (10,000) – Win 10 hours in a day
  • Afternoon Burst (25,000) – Earn 1,500 from 2pm to 5pm
  • Hypersonic (25,000) – Earn 18 Nike Fuel per minute for 30 minutes 5 times from Monday through Sunday
  • Double Threat (50,000) – Complete 2 Nike sessions during a weekend
  • Late Shift (50,000) – Earn 1,500 Nike Fuel from 10pm to 1am
  • Hydro Speed (75,000) – Earn 28 Nike Fuel per minute for 40 straight minutes
  • Lunch Break (75,000) – Earn 1,500 Nike Fuel from 11am to 1pm
  • Player of the Week (100,000) – Win 8 hours per day for 7 straight days
  • Green Machine (100,000) – Earn 5,000 Nike Fuel per day for 7 days straight
  • Five-Timer (150,000) – Complete 5 Nike+ sessions
  • Red Eye (150,000) – Earn 2,000 Nike Fuel from 3am to 7am
  • Party Animal (200,000) – Earn 2,000 Nike Fuel from 10pm to 1am
  • Sonic Boom (200,000) – Earn 18 Nike Fuel per minute for 30 minutes from Monday through Sunday
  • Power Lunch (300,000) – Earn 2,000 Nike Fuel from 11am to 1pm
  • Heavy Hitter (300,000) – Earn 6,000 Nike Fuel per day from Monday through Sunday
  • Race Speed (400,000) – Earn 28 Nike Fuel per minute for 50 minutes
  • Mighty Monday (400,000) – Earn more Nike Fuel on a Monday than ever before
  • Full on 14 (500,000) – Win 14 hours in a day
  • Sharp Shooter (500,000) – Earn 7,000 Nike Fuel a day for 7 straight days
  • All Star of the Week (600,000) – Win 10 hours a day for 7 straight days
  • Light Speed (600,000) – Earn 28 Nike Fuel every minute for 60 straight minutes
  • Super Seven (700,000) – Complete 7 Nike+ Sessions in a week
  • Afternoon Rush (700,000) – Earn 2,000 Nike Fuel between 2pm and 5pm
  • Power Hour (800,000) – Earn 2,000 Nike Fuel in an hour
  • Tremendous 12 (800,000) -Win 12 hours in a day
  • Super Power Hour (900,000) – Earn 2,500 Nike Fuel in an hour
  • MVP of the week (900,000) – Win 12 hours a day for 7 straight days
  • Champion of the Week (1,000,000) – Win 14 hours a day for 7 straight days
  • Hot Shot (1,000,000) – Earn 8,000 Nike Fuel per day from Monday through Sunday
Wearable Technology

10 Things To Know Before Buying A Pebble Watch

At first I didn’t think that I was going to write a review of my Pebble. Then, I realized that my perspective is probably different than most, so I changed my mind and decided to jot down 10 things to know about the Pebble. Before I get into that though, I’m one of those weird people that still wears a watch. Yes, I know, how very dated I must look. But hey, I really don’t care so I keep wearing it. Therefore, a different device on that wrist really doesn’t move the needle, it’s just a device that isn’t the other one that I wore for 20 years… I have stopped wearing my Tag completely, but that’s OK, it’s getting a little long in the tooth anyway.


The Pebble has a lot of promise. A lot is fulfilled and more yet has yet to be fulfilled. Let me explain, starting with the things I love (the promise that is fulfilled):

  • The Pebble has an SDK. Using the SDK, developers can design apps and sell them or post them online.
  • The battery of a Pebble lasts me about 5 or 6 days, depending on how many push alerts the device gets over the low power bluetooth connection back to my phone.
  • The screen is monotone and epaper, which is to say that it is not designed to emit light (unless shaken) and so you can see the screen very well in sunlight, much like the pump at a gas station.
  • The Pebble receives low power bluetooth push alerts from your phone. This means that when someone says something on Instagram, likes a photo on Facebook or sends you a text, you see it on the phone and on the watch. Since many alerts you just look at, this keeps you from taking the phone out of your pocket. You can’t really do anything with most alerts, but you can see them and just file the piece of information for later. The alert will still be on your phone when you take it out of your pocket.
  • When someone calls, you see caller ID and contact info on the watch.  You can then answer a call right from the watch. If you’re wearing headphones and a mic then you never have to take the phone out of your pocket to answer calls.
  • You can control music on your iPhone through the watch. This means you can go forward and backward without taking the phone out of your pocket. When I’m on my morning runs this is especially helpful when I’m on a treadmill as taking my phone out of my pocket on the treadmill often makes me just unstable enough to possibly wipe out on the treadmill. I’ve only had it in the winter here in Minnesota so I’m not sure if that will matter to me when I get to run outside again.

The promise to be fulfilled:

  • I think this starts with a true app store, like Apple has. There are accelerometers and other doohickeys in these things that mean they can really do a lot more than what they can today. The app store isn’t out yet, although you can buy or download apps at the Pebble site (it’s just not a simple process all the time and better apps typically tend to get written when people make money from them).
  • There are fitness apps but the device doesn’t yet replace a FuelBand or a FitBit. It doesn’t track steps (which with an accelerometer should be simple to do), calculate burned calories, etc. I’d like to see an app that allows you to choose foods you tell an app on your phone you like so you can calorie count at the dinner table without busting out your phone. I’d also like to see a step tracking app that can sync to FitBit so I can stop wearing my Force.
  • Watchfaces are currently the big thing most apps allow you to control. I don’t give two craps about changing the watch to look different.  However, if you want to make your own “Haz Cheezburgur” watch face, feel free (this isn’t really a bad thing, just a lot of time wasted designing pixelated and monotone watch faces that could have been spent writing cool apps).
  • The device is currently half way between SDK 1 and SDK 2. This means there are cool features that you can only get if you go through a lengthy upgrade process that includes sending them a UDID for your iOS device. It’s not a terrible thing, like the other promises to be fulfilled with the Pebble, it’s just a thing.

Overall, I love the Pebble. The nerd factor around not having to take your phone out of your pocket, the ability to skip songs, the ability to look and see which push alerts you actually care about are all awesome. I hope that the app store brings with it a bunch of new apps that give you access to lots of things and that I can get rid of my Nike FuelBand or FitBit soon, but that could be 2 weeks from now or 2 years for all I know. It’s a quality device that’s well worth the money if the things I mention are things that you’d like to have. However, for now it’s not a replacement for that Garmin, FuelBand, etc type of device you may be using for fitness purposes. Anyway, if it’s the type of thing you’re into then good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

Wearable Technology

Pebble: Kickstarter to Chinese Factories

Wearable Technology

FuelBand Bug or Feature?

I’ve been using a FuelBand on and off for about a year. I upgraded to the newer FuelBand SE as soon as it became available, and immediately noticed that Nike built a bunch of new badges in for users of the newer devices. As you obtained more Fuel, you can unlock the ability to earn these ever increasingly difficult to earn badges.

But, I noticed something kinda’ strange. Not all of the badges were available to me that should be. In fact, only a few badges were available. But, as I continued to obtain more Fuel, all the new badges unlocked. All of the badges from the Nike Running app were available. Upon further inspection it turned out that the only ones of the new FuelBand SE badges available were those that required the number of Fuel that I’d had when I got my first FuelBand. Basically, a loop where you need 1,000,000 plus the total that a badge is supposed to be unlocked at in order to unlock the badge.

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Seeing a bug and a phone number for support on my Nike+ account, I called Nike. They were very nice and didn’t make fun of me for bothering to call them about something so trivial as badges from their app. The guy who answered the phone was very nice. I have to admit, I was totally surprised that there was someone on the other end of the phone to help me deal with an app issue.

Then, today (about a week later) I received this email, restating the problem I explained to them:

Hi Charles,

We have researched this issue a little further and I believe we have determined what is going on here. I appreciate your patience while we looked into this!

Any trophies or milestones earned before the update on November 1st, such as the 500k NikeFuel milestone, are not awarded retroactively. This means that though you are nearly to 1 million NikeFuel, you have only earned 700k and above. Fortunately, you can start earning these earlier milestones again after you hit 1 million NikeFuel. It looks to me like those should be unlocked for you very soon. This is definitely expected behavior, and I am glad to determine that things are working correctly for you.

Please let me know if there is anything else that I can help you with, Charles.

Holy crap, they actually bothered to research my utterly trivial issue. So I guess if you ask Nike phone support, this is a feature. But, I still kinda’ think it’s a bug. Reason I think that is because Fuel added to my account by the Nike+ Running app since I started using my FuelBand actually contributes towards my ability to unlock new badges. And it’s not like absolutely none of the Fuel from before works, just not a lot of it. I’m sure there’s a field in SQL that’s not in use until you use a FuelBand and it keeps a running total. Makes sense from a database standpoint.

It’s not a big deal, and the whole point of this stuff is to be more healthy, so it’s not like I’m going to stop when I hit a million Fuel at some point this week anyway. The whole purpose behind this post is to actually express my gratitude that there was someone at Nike on the other end of the phone to support of all things an app they make available for free (granted, you need a FuelBand to basically take any use out of it but there’s a whole ecosystem of apps and you don’t actually need any of their products to use them). I am constantly impressed by the folks at Nike for the little things just like this. Thanks ya’ll!

Wearable Technology

Upgrade Nike FuelBand to Nike FuelBand SE

If you’ve been rocking a Nike FuelBand, and you couldn’t help yourself but to go out and buy a FuelBand SE then there are a couple of things you’ll need to do. The first is install the latest version of the Nike+ Connect software from

Once downloaded, sync your elderly FuelBand one last time. Then, plug your new FuelBand into your computer. You’ll then be prompted for a firmware update.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 6.54.02 PM

Click Update and the FuelBand will automatically link to your Nike+ account. Once you start using your new FuelBand you’ll immediately be able to start obtaining some of the new trophies available, which I’ll document at the page where I’ve been writing up the trophies.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.15.19 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.15.08 PMFinally, if you’re using an iPhone to sync your FuelBand, you’re going to want to update the Nike FuelBand app on your mobile device. Otherwise you won’t be able to sync it properly.

Wearable Technology

Too Many Cards In Your Wallet? Coin

Already ordered my Coin. Reduces the number of things I’ll have in my wallet! To order, check out:

Wearable Technology

Wearable Tech Board

Wearable Technology

Table Comparing FitBits, Nike+, FuelBand and Jawbone Up

As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been number needing the time I spend running, walking, sleeping and pretty much anything else at this point. As such, I’ve been testing a lot of little devices that help me track such things. So when it comes to personal fitness tracking, I wanted to write up an article comparing all these devices to answer a common question I get: which one is the best? The problem with that question is that some of us value certain features more or less than others. So I took a stab at putting those features into a table. If you think of anything I missed DM me or email me and I’ll try and add it!

FitBit One
FitBit Flex
Jawbone Up
Price (Amazon)99.9596.4124.99 (sensor only)144.95129
Altimeter (stair tracking)YesNoNoNoNo
Sleep TrackingYesYesNoNoYes
Step TrackingYesYesNoNoYes
Distance TrackingYesYesYesYesYes
Silent AlarmYesYesNoNoYes
Food Tracking (in app)YesYesNoNoYes
Wireless SyncBluetooth 4YesYesBluetooth 2No
Automatic SyncYesYesNoNoNo
DisplayOLEDLED LightsN/ALED with WordsLED backlights
Shows TimeYesNoNoYesNo
ChargingUSB dongleUSB dongleN/AUSB on bandUSB Dongle
WornBelt clipWristIn ShoeWristWrist
Heart RateNoNoNoNoNo
Battery time (for me)4 days5 daysN/A4 days6 days
Heart rateNoNoNoNoNo
App UXKeeps getting better, user friendlyKeeps getting better, user friendlyNike Running app doesn't require sensorApp is about competing for points more than anything else; have to manually start thingsBest app of all of them. Very sleek, responsive, great graphics
WaterproofNot officially but have washed and it keeps tickingNot officially but have washed and it keeps tickingSensor in shoeYes, to 210 feetFine in the shower, not when swimming
MyFitnessPal IntegrationYesYesNoNoYes
IFTTT IntegrationNoNoNoNoYes
Mood trackingNoNoYes (per run)yes (per run)Yes
Vibrating MotorNoYesNoNoYes
Running Wearable Technology

Setup Fitbit Aria

The Fitbit Aria Scale tracks weight, body fat and BMI. It’s also pretty cool how it smiles at you too. As a gadget head, there’s really no way I could go through life without one of these. If you use a One, Ultra or Flex, this data gets synchronized to the same Fitbit account you use for other things as well. The scale can also be used by multiple people in a household, with each persons weight getting synchronized to their own account at Fitbit.


The Aria comes with batteries. But don’t put them in before installing the app. To set the device up, first install the Fitbit Wi-Fi Scale Setup application, located at the getting started page for the Aria: Once downloaded, open the app. At the “Ready to connect your scale?” screen, click Get Started.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.38.39 PMSign up for a free account screen, click Log in to your account if you already have an account; otherwise provide details so a new account can be created for you and then click Sign up.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.38.47 PM

At the Personal Info screen, enter your height, weight, birthday and a time zone and click on the Next button.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.39.21 PM

At the Question screen, select Yes if the wireless network is listed properly; otherwise click No and select the correct network.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.40.28 PM

Next, place the batteries in the Aria and it will turn on automatically. Click Connect when the scale comes up and it will get joined to the wireless network. Now, this is a little tricky sometimes as the scale might go ahead and join the network and the app is likely never to notice. So at this point, once the scale restarts, stand on it and see if it can upload to your account. If it does, you’re done. If it doesn’t, try the wizard again (force quit, re-run).

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.43.30 PM

Once installed, log into your Fitbit dashboard and locate the Weight tile. This will show the historical rating for weight, Lean vs Fat and BMI over time. Good for number nerding, working towards goals, etc.

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