The Nike+ Fuelband wasn’t designed. It was discovered on a UFO, with a captivating, techie aesthetic unlike anything else in this world. But for however cool it may look, the Fuelband doesn’t necessarily work with a double-breasted suit. A woman couldn’t pull it off alongside a cocktail dress. It’s a 24/7 life device that can’t match every situation.
The BodyMedia Core 2 is a fitness armband (you wear closer to your bicep) that promises superb calorie-counting accuracy, thanks to skin sensors that feel your temperature and sweat. But its bigger breakthrough may be its aesthetics. At its heart, the Core 2 is a 0.4 oz modular gadget that can be plugged into all sorts of other, more premium jewelry.
“We don’t want this product to be for the tri-athlete–this is for the everyday person who wants to live healthier,” BodyMedia CTO John Stivoric tells Co.Design. “This armband takes you through the week–wear the base armband to work out and then put your jewelry options on when you go out dancing with the gals on Friday night.”
It’s a fashion-forward approach to fitness tracking, largely conceptualized by design studio Lunar. Just as you can buy a fancy watch to match a particular outfit you like to wear, so, too, will BodyMedia offer several, premium skins beyond their more conventional cloth-sport base. I imagine silver and bronze armbands–maybe not the sort of jewelry most of us would show off in the winter–but by all means a statement piece for those willing to go bare-armed.
“Our point of view has been, this is something that has a real opportunity for personal expression. For their system to work well and be most effective, you have to have this thing on 24/7. Our take is, it has to be something you want to wear 24/7,” Lunar president John Edson explains. “I really find [the Nike+ Fuelband] expression appealing. But I’m a male in my mid 40s. I really like technology. If you think of a woman in her 50s from Omaha, those things look like Silicon Valley technology.”
For Lunar, the biggest guiding factor is that the accessories don’t erode the scientific credibility of the brand. It just so happens that more premium jewelry already has a sort of authenticity that you don’t get with jelly bracelets. But as for whether or not the average BodyMedia wearer will want to fork over more money for more and more hardware, that’s a question all parties are very aware of.
“Modular can be tricky, but this is the one place where modular can really work,” Edson says. “We’re still in that zone where the technology costs enough, and personal expression is the differentiator. Until sensors are pennies and you just buy a different one for different settings, this is going to be an approach that makes a lot of sense.”