FoolBand (or a Note on Metabolic Vehicles)

FoolBand

Wired Playbook:

Nike’s got a new gadget that tracks all that exertion and motivates you to get more active by turning your workout, and everyday activities, into a game with a reward called NikeFuel.

FuelBand is a wristband that records data collected by an accelerometer. It tracks calories expended, steps taken and the time of day as well as your NikeFuel score and presents it on an LED display. Your score is based on an algorithm that assigns points to various movements. The more active you are, the more NikeFuel you earn. You can earn it doing just about anything, track your progress with your iPhone or iPad and eventually share it with others via social media platforms.

“[FuelBand] is a common measurement across a wide spectrum of activity,” says Trevor Edwards, a Nike VP.

. . .

Activities are measured the same way for everyone, regardless of how many calories are burned, says Glen Gaesser, an exercise and wellness professor at Arizona State University who worked with Nike to develop FuelBand. He says 30 college-aged men and women performed various everyday movements in his lab. Each activity took eight minutes, followed by a brief rest, during a 90-minute workout. Participants wore a FuelBand along with a portable metabolic measurement system that tracked their oxygen uptake breath-by-breath. Nike engineers used the data to develop the proprietary algorithms that track accelerometer data accompanying each uptake of oxygen. That forged a relationship between physical movements and oxygen data in which each activity has a recognized accelerometry pattern.

Unlike calories, which vary depending upon gender and weight, NikeFuel holds a common score for each type of activity. Algorithms for some movements aren’t always 100 percent accurate, but Gaesser says it shouldn’t affect the FuelBand’s overall effectiveness.

 

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Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, p.94:

"The invader's performance resembles that of his athletic counterpart, of those olympic champions whose records first progressed by hours, then by minutes, then by seconds, then by fractions of seconds. The better they performed (the more rapid they became), the more pitiful were the advances they obtained, until they could only be noticed electronically. One day the champion will disappear in the limits of his own record, as is already suggested by the biological manipulation of which he is the object, and which resembles the methods of artificial medical survival granted the terminally ill. For the dromomaniac the engine is also a prosthesis of survival. It is remarkable that the first automobiles, Joseph Cugnot's military trolley of 1771, for example, were steam-powered, already situating themselves at the limit of the animal body's metempsychosis, relay of historical evolution: the limit of the passage from the metabolic vehicle to the technological vehicle, spilling its smoke like a last breath, a final symbolic manifestation of the motor-power of living bodies."

 

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Only the situation has folded in upon itself: as the champion disappears into the limits of his own record, so too does an entire economy of record-production begin to show the cracks of its own implosion. Similarly, the economy of athletic celebrity proves to be straining at the boundaries of sustainability, and the fuel that bursts these stars into the sky only to therein be captured as sources of nuclear-interactive potential is no longer sufficient as an energetic solution for the demands of cognitive capitalism and its tyranny of exhaustion (cf. Bifo).

Sole. Soul. Solar. Virilio demands an ecological approach that fully understands technological culture and not simply its biological substratum. But Nike is already there, shifting from celebrity plutonium to a more diversified and distributed energetic approach in which score resumes its superiority over image, the cellular Everyman with his FuelBand still miles away from pitiful athletic advances and thus ripe for athletic endcolonialism writ softly as ambient informatics and performance exchange rates.

Sold: the situation has folded in upon itself, fuel is produced after the fact, and the metabolic vehicle driving around in fresh Nikes is not quite dead either, exhausted though it may be.

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