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How the Nike+ SportBand Works


Nike+ SportBand Hardware

The Nike+ SportBand consists of two separate components. One of them is very, very simple. It's a rubber watch band. Just like any other watch band, pretty much, but with one exception: opposite the watch band holes is a small rectangular socket in the rubber. This slot is what secures the second component of the SportBand, which is actually a USB thumb drive. While the SportBand is water resistant, using the buttons underwater or exposing the SportBand to hot steam can be damaging. The thumb drive is made from curved plastic so it neatly rests atop the watch band, and it houses the SportBand's LCD display and a pair of control buttons on its surface.

The LCD can function as a plain digital watch, but its primary goal is to convey exercise information via a calorie counter, timer, distance gauge and pace meter. The button beside the display will start up exercise tracking, while a toggle button on the side of the device switches between functions. The SportBand's rechargeable battery lasts an estimated three weeks of daily one-hour workouts, while the memory is able to hold 30 hours of running data. The display is backlit, and the SportBand includes a 2.4GHz wireless receiver, but no transmitter.

That sums up the SportBand hardware: Unlike other exercise trackers, it doesn't contain a pedometer to track steps or an accelerometer to more accurately gauge movement. It also doesn't wirelessly upload information to the Nike+ Web site to allow you to see your exercise information -- you have to connect the detachable USB thumb drive to a computer to sync the data it collects.

By itself, the SportBand can't track your workout sessions. But the $59 band comes with a Nike+ sensor, which fits into any Nike+-ready shoe. This is where the wireless receiver comes in: The Nike+ sensor tracks your movement and transmits it to the SportBand. The sensor uses an accelerometer to track the motion of your foot and translate that into a step. Officially, the sensor fits into the insole of Nike+ shoes. Unofficially, you can use it with any running shoe by cutting a hole in the insole, stuffing it into the shoelaces or attaching it with tape.

The real draw of Nike+, of course, is what the software does with your exercise data.


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