For me it’s always about encapsulating the product/service benefits into the experience so the user goes home understanding what it will do to enhance their life. The first one was ground-breaking with its slick design and functionality – a cut above the rest at the time. Now two years on, numerous competitor products have emerged so what have Nike done to improve it? Slightly tweaking the design but most of the huge changes take place behind the scenes with the app functionality and new features such as sessions and groups to keep users much more engaged.
Before I even start on the day’s activities, it’s only right that I share a bit about the new updated product. It’s a massive step up from the original release and don’t worry, it feels a lot more robust but only time will tell if that’s the case.
Introduced by SkySports News presenter Charlie Webster, Stefan Olander, VP of Nike’s Digital Sport category took to the stage to talk about the rich new experience. NikeFuel is very much at the heart of the entire experience and is a single, universal metric to measure all kinds of activities from a morning workout, crazy night out to cooking. There’s over a billion points earned on a daily basis – the NikeFuel team analysed over a year’s worth of data to fine-tune the algorithms to deliver a more accurate measurement of your movement.
Excuse the photography. Dimly lit room during the presentation, lack of flash means noise but we love noise – right? Back to the FuelBand, Stefan announced the several new additions that’ll be coming to the firmware so original FuelBand users will be to update their software to get most of the new functionality except the Bluetooth LE which is only in the SE edition.
Here’s some of the hardware upgrades that I won’t bother breaking down for y’all:
Bluetooth 4.0 technology connects the Nike+ FuelBand SE automatically and seamlessly with the Nike+ FuelBand App. Improved water resistance and the iconic, easy-to-wear design allow the Nike+ FuelBand SE to go almost everywhere. A redesigned circuit board provides greater flexibility and an internally-enhanced, simple one-button design drives the super bright LED.
Now to break down the new features:
Easily the best new feature, especially for the gym junkies like myself. You know when you have leg day at the gym and earn next to nothing points? That’ll be fixed with this new feature as it allows users to start and mark sessions which uses set algorithms to figure how much Fuel you earned from the activity. Easily my favourite addition!
• Win the Hour
An hourly reminder and your motivation partner to keep you moving throughout your day. The FuelBand SE tracks how much movement you’ve made in the past hour and it’ll remind you to move more. Get off your lazy ass.
• Fuel Rate
Fuel Rate tracks the rate at which NikeFuel rate is being earned. It’s one that the new Bluetooth technology enables for real time numeral readout on the Nike+ FuelBand app. Using the colours from red to green to indicate how well you’re doing – know how intensely you move is key to optimising activities through out the day.
This part reminds me of Path – a closed network of friends who you’ll be able to communicate, workout and share milestones with each other. Essentially it’s there to create competition with friends and create more of a socially active network. Like in Nike+ Running app: users will be able to cheer and work together towards a common goal.
• Double Tap for Time
WIN. Glad they’ve resolved this issue, having to click 3 times to get to time was a hassle. New userflow makes life a lot easier with a simple double tap.
Plenty more milestones have been added for users and you’ll also get rewarded for sessions, streaks and hours won as well. There’s also a new Games section to unlock new achievements at each milestone.
You can find out more on the new release here.
Lord knows I struggled with the one handed cycling/shoot technique.
The second location. Heading down into a crypt where a number of challenges await.
First challenge was skipping and man, I can’t skip to save my life. Just looked rather special trying to skip, one jump at a time. So ended up doing just jumping around with the instructor without the skipping rope. Rather SPECIAL if you say so.
Antonin Fourneau‘s spectacular Water Light Graffiti was our next challenge. The combination of water and electricity is usually deadly but this artist has found a way to safely activate LEDs with water. All of us were given two minutes to come up with a creation of our choice and obviously I tried to be ambitious with my Anime styling drawing. It didn’t quite work out as you can’t get super intricate with the board. My second attempt was way more straight forward – just my name. So creative right?
I missed out on photographing two of the other challenges, boxing and drumming. Boxing with Sonja Moses was intense but fun – certainly broke out a sweat and easily the highest Fuel earning activity. We headed off on the tandem back to Ice Tank…
First challenge was awesome: cycling to make your smoothie with East London collective Look Mum No Hands! and I won. Well it wasn’t really a competition but I definitely wanted to get the most points. Secret tactic, swing FuelBand arm while cycling. I ended up with 50 more points than the other 3 – not cheating. Legit multitasking. #winning
Up next: coffee grinding with Dunne Frankowski , the creative coffee consultancy. I’m a BIG coffee fan but in recent months I’ve slowly started cutting it out, think I’ve probably only had 4 coffees since July. I’ve never had the opportunity to grind it myself, it’s all about technique and speed. Once you nail the former, the speed comes. Definitely an interesting challenge and high Fuel earning one as it’s all about the wrist turning action.
The final lifestyle challenge was crepe-making with the good people from Shutterbug LDN which involved whisking all the ingredients together to create the perfect crepe mix. No bits. The guy standing next to me had 30 more points than the rest of us, why? He’s a former chef which gave him an unfair advantage. His whisking game tekkers were on another level and my evidently lack of kitchen skills shone through. That was the end of all the challenges, a nice way to start your day right? From a little fitness to more quirky challenges to help us understand what the new FuelBand SE offers and how much more accurate it’ll be for other activities that uses less hand movement. Before the end of the event, I had the opportunity to sit down with Stefan Olander. Slightly geeked out and also rather nervous seeing as my boss was sat a couple metres away. I can’t be letting down the company in front of a client haha. Work/passion project overlap is always fun.
Right let’s get to it. Since it was a one person interview, I was far too busy asking the questions to be taking the photographs!
Stefan, what’s your Fuel score looking like today?
Stefan: Let’s check, I think it’ll be pretty good. I’ve won 5 hours and I’ve got 2369 so far.
That’s pretty sweet, did you do any of the challenges?
Stefan: No but I’ve been up since early, walked over to the venue and have been moving around since.
So I had to ask the question that everyone wanted to know the answer to…
In terms of product design and stability – how is this version more robust than v1? I’ve had a few that have broken in the past.
Stefan: You learn a lot when you put out first generation products for everything; how do people bend it? what happens if they use the button 57 times a day, what happens if its in salt water and exposed to sun lotion – all that leads to learnings. You can’t lab test all of that so we’ve taken all of those learnings and added them into the design of the new product. We’ve moved around the layers in the flexible printed circuit, changed out the way the flex plug work so it’s not quite as rigid and puts pressure in certain parts of the construction. All that are things under the hood that makes the product way more robust and that’s a natural evolution of coming out with a second generation product.
For me, I’ve started wearing it as a fashion product. It fits in well with my wrist accessories – what has changed to keep users more engaged after the initial honeymoon period? A whole bunch of my friends were hyped at first but slowly lost touch over the space of a few months.
Stefan: As you’ve seen today, a lot of learnings are around that. When you’ve started to know that the average day is around 3000/4000 points, you’ve reached a new level of enlightenment in terms of how active you are then you need something more. What’s cool about Groups for instance is that you have motivation through your friends, what’s good about sessions – you can get more credit for your workouts. Adding more of those things combined with a movement philosophy where you become aware it’s not just about hitting your goal but it’s how I hit my goal. It’s those things combined create a different longevity in the experience thus far. Another thing is the fact that you don’t have to manually sync any more and it’s just there doing it all for you. You can now get push notifications that let you know you’ve started a session and it pulls you back into the app.
It seems a lot faster now. Has the app size changed at all? I asked this because the last one was a tiny bit clunky. I ended up syncing more with my desktop version.
Stefan: We can check that – I think it’s around the same. The radio protocols get better all the time, like the way it works with wifi and the device (iPhone) has improved. We also tried to make sure that we don’t pack it with heavy animations inside the app.
In future, will users be allowed to use Fuel to get offers/access into exclusives? I know it’s something that’s commonly asked, let’s say I get a 2 million Fuel points in the space of a year. What can I do with them? aside from track how well I’m doing against my friends.
Stefan: So that’s another thing we’re working on back at campus. We’re making sure that when you reach a milestone, we can give you something special. We’re working on a couple different concepts from being able to a buy a unique product if you’re a Fuel millionaire; Nike isn’t about giving discounts or things like that but you can get limited access to Niketown NYC only for people with few million Fuel points. We’re building up a platform for rewards but we want to make sure it’s done right, as we don’t want to create something like an airline rewards program. It should be about things that you care about which is motivation and access to the Nike brand.
With iPhone integration in the works, what’s the future looking like for Nike and technology? All the FuelBand promo material comes across very Apple-esque.
Stefan: What we try to do is create experiences that feel premium, thought-through and easy to use. I think it’s a philosophy that Apple share as well about keeping it simple but we’re not just looking at that. We have our own philosophy and vision for what makes great design and usable experiences – that’s what we’re continuing to do. As a company, we’re a focusing on editing, removing things that don’t matter and we do this in our core products around footwear and apparel. We also do it when we think about experiences just making sure they’re beautiful and user friendly. If we see things we love that inspires us.
As one of the first sports/lifestyle brands to venture into wearable computing, what do you feel about the quantified self/life logging trend/phenomenon that’s taking place right now.
Stefan: Yeah, I think the buzz words are dangerous. It needs to be put in a bucket whether it’s quantified self, wearable electronics or whatever you call it. We just don’t think about it that way. What can we do to motivate and inspire people to do more, be more active and improve? then you look at what technologies do I have disposable to do that. We never started of saying let’s go make a wearable electronic – we said let’s go motivate people to go from red to green and then what we need to do that. Then you look at how that manifests itself from a product and experience standpoint. I think the idea of people wanting to know how they’re doing to be able to motivated to do more is true whether you call it quantified self or not, I don’t really care. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. We never started it by looking at the buzz words, we started it by looking at people. We saw it with runners, if you could credit for your run on the original Nike+ app that we created 7 years ago – some people were like ‘if I don’t bring my sensor, I’m not going for a run because it’s a lost run’. That’s a bigger thing than quantified self, it’s an insight into the athlete. For us it’s really about using that insight and develop/design experiences that deliver against that.
Right, our site Y&Y has always been about the people and their stories. How did your journey start at Nike? Were you always involved in digital?
Stefan: Fairly early. I started advertising at Nike back in 1996 and my first digital brand director was in 2000 when the digital era really kicked off.
Damn, I was still in primary school!
Stefan: Now you see how old I am haha.
Do you have any passion projects outside of work?
Stefan: Velocity. It’s been amazing with Mr. Ahmed.
The book kind of transformed my life, I guess you could say it was the inspiration for me to want to work for Nike. Now I work at AKQA.
Stefan: That’s fantastic so it worked. That was the whole purpose of the project. I’m also really passionate about music, I write music but that’s for my family’s ears only. Fortunately some would say.
How often do you step out of your comfort zone to be creative?
Stefan: I think I do that more in music. With regards to things we develop for Nike, it’s been a journey where you have informed intuition that’s been honed over the years. I try to take all new influences I get from talks, people or the books I read then I try to use that in the way I think about guiding and unlocking all the smart people within Nike and our agency partners. You’ve got to pretty open to hearing new things but at the same time putting things into perspective with experience. My uncomfortable creative zones are probably more in music.
As VP of all things digital, it must be a pretty intensive job. How do you switch off from work mode? Do you even switch off?
Stefan: It’s really hard to switch off. The phone is always with us. I love working out, going to the gym or going for a run – it’s usually the time where I can be in my zone. I also coach my youngest son’s soccer team if you’re not there with twelve 7 year old’s, you’re in trouble.
What’s one piece of advice you could give someone who’s just started their job in the industry?
Stefan: Be curious. Listen, read and build your instincts by listening to a lot of different people. Try and get a couple of mentors – people who are a good barometer and guide, stay close to them. For me it’s been great to be close to people with really strong opinions and who are also able to express them in a meaningful way.
LASTLY! I’ve read Velocity twice, it’s a brilliant book with lots of key quotables and one that helped me get my current job at AKQA. Will you be writing a follow up to it in a few years time?
Stefan: *looks over at Ajaz* I think he’s the man to ask. We’ll see.