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Nike+ Hacked To Track Tweets Rather Than Steps

The Nike Fuelband makes exercise analytics easy, so one firm repurposed it to track social media engagement instead.

Klout is an inherently cold product. It’s a tool interested in quantifying our popularity as a measurable stat—questionably useful for some industry professionals, but way too calculating for the casually self-aggrandizing social media user.

Yet something about this Nike Fuelband hack by Stinkdigital finds a way to bridge the gap of cut throat analytics with friendly usability. It’s called TweetFuel, and it’s a digital hijacking of the Nike Fuelband that forces Nike+ to count tweets rather than steps.

Whenever someone tweets @stinkdigital, a modified Fuelband, hooked to a motor, spins. The more followers that person had, the longer the Fuelband spins. In an era of +1s and +Ks, it’s a somewhat silly, almost gameshow-esque reward for a social media mention. The even cooler level, though, is that the firm tweaked some of the Nike+ code to allow (okay, force) Nike’s built-in graph to measure all these tweets. So a few RTs become a parallel to a sprint in their interface. A story that goes viral could resemble a marathon through the day.

Somewhat ironically, TweetFuel ends up resembling contemporary social media tools more than most exercise programs. Take one look at the Nike+ interface, and you’ll see glossy, branded analytics that look far more like Sprout Social than they do your average treadmill LCD. And that’s a reassuring thing. Graphs don’t all need to look like they’ve been crapped out by Excel anymore, not when we’ve all become such desk-dwelling data junkies.

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