A little followup to my FuelBand review because I forgot to mention some limitations, workarounds, and more hopes for the future.
As mentioned the main issue is that it’s essentially an accelerometer on your wrist. The bulk of my exercise is on a stationary bike. You can see the problem here. Luckily there’s two simple workarounds: stick it in my pocket where the thigh motion seems to be enough to accumulate points, or put it on my ankle. It’s not big enough around to close the band (and barely stretches wide enough to get onto the ankle in the first place) but it stays on fine.
The motion based tracking can also an issue for strength training, albeit since stuff like weight lifting isn’t necessarily great at calorie burning in the first place it’s arguably not a big deal.
Another issue, albeit one that doesn’t affect me, is that it’s merely “water resistant,” so swimmers are out of luck. It works fine getting wet while washing hands, and supposedly survives showers (never wanted to test it myself), but it’s not meant to be fully submerged for long periods.
As for the battery, the life itself is fine. I have no clue how often I charge, but at worst it’s every few days when I think about it. It varies depending on how much you hit the button to turn on the screen though (or hold down to sync), like I think I ran low in two days when I first got it and was playing with it more often.
And one more thing is the initial setup, it requires connecting to a computer. Sure there’s an iOS app, but it can’t do the initial setup or firmware updates or resets. It’s mostly a one time thing but pretty annoying, what makes it worse is that the app doesn’t even have any sort of firmware update notification. I connected mine to my computer just now, and found out there was an update that fixed a little complaint I had. I’d never known about it if it weren’t for typing all this crap up.
For the future there’s already some rumors from earlier this year: faster display, Bluetooth 4.0, which will enable auto syncing and continuous monitoring thanks to the lower battery consumption, possibly a third party API, and a heart rate monitor…supposedly enabled by pinching to put the sensor against your wrist.
Those improvements sound great, but the manual heart rate monitor interaction would fall to the same issue as what I mentioned about watch use: it’d require two hands. At best it’d be a useful but cumbersome feature, at worst it wouldn’t be used much due to the inconvenience. Ideally it’ll be able to monitor it continuously without interaction, which would further open up the possibilities, like how some competing products can do sleep tracking.
Of course the real fun stuff is the grander idea of smart watches…