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Nike+ Fuelband

A Nike FuelBand worn by Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder during an NBA All-Star Weekend in 2012.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Looking a like a futuristic version of a plastic charity wristband, the Nike+ Fuelband is one of the most fascinating new gadgets of 2012. It automatically tracks your physical movements in order to encourage you to be more active. You set your goals, and Fuelband tells you if you're meeting them. It lets you see how much energy you're using in real time. Which burns more, a game of softball or climbing a flight of stairs? Fuelband will tell you.

The Fuelband functions using an internal accelerometer, a device that detects movement in any direction. It tracks things like running, walking or dancing, as well as sports activities. When the Fuelband is synched to a computer or cell phone, data related to your workouts appears in graphics that record progress, turning your daily life into a kind of game. For example, a meter moves from red to green as the day's goal is reached. Long-term improvement becomes obvious in easy-to-read charts.

Unlike a simple pedometer or GPS device, Fuelband tracks activity in several different ways. It accounts for intensity, length and style of a user's movement [source: Rundle]. Priced at approximately $150, the Fuelband is all about motivation. By making progress visible and passing on rewarding messages, it might prompt a user to climb the stairs rather than take an elevator, or walk rather than drive. With a mobile app, the person can share progress on Facebook or compete with friends in meeting goals.

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