Nike recently released a new generation of the FuelBand product. Nike+ FuelBand SE is a wristband that tracks movement through an accelerometer and converts it into a Fuel score. Fuel is supposed to be Nike’s unity of measure of body movement and sport activity: by converting any sort of movement into a Fuel score, Nike is attempting to introduce a common measurement for all possible sport activities (with the possible exception of swimming, as the wristband is not waterproof).
FuelBand is another product in the Nike+ series, often seen by many experts as a brilliant example of gamification (it often features on Gamification.co by Gabe Zichermann and other blogs on gamification). FuelBand presents itself as a tool that quantifies an activity which was previously considered unquantifiable (movement) while motivating the user and providing an ideal support for sportsmen.
The video that introduces Nike Fuel is quite interesting for the way in which it presents the problem the product intends to fix. In fact, the statement ‘movement is life’ (maybe a citation to Bergson’s notion that life is movement?) is somehow seen as a problem: the advertisement basically says that movement is essential to life but it is also impossible to track, and this is why we need Nike to sort out the problem.
In a sense, Nike responds to the problem by freezing movement (and life). Nike+ and the FuelBand are the commercial solutions to Zeno’s dilemma. Nike’s movement is composed of finite states, not further divisible and always comparable to each other, as belonging to the same measurement. Achilles and the tortoise would not even need to be running at the same time as they could compare their respective results at different moments, provided they are both equipped with Nike’s FuelBand (and have also shared their contacts…). Movement comes to be standardised in order to be calculated, compared and evaluated. The value attributed to movement is not related to the time and place where such movement occurs. It becomes a purely abstract calculation, detached from the body.
What makes a product such as FuelBand fun is, probably, the reassuring notion that movement can be quantified, and that the personal count at the end of the day could be improved through an immediate and clear activity. While this abstraction is what allegedly makes FuelBand fun to play with, it would be probably even more fun to see how FuelBand could become a tool for playing with the notions of time, space, movement and life it so blatantly evokes. I imagine this could happen through what Bergson intended when he reflected on the same slogan now used by Nike: life is movement, in Bergson, entailed that time and space should be understood both intellectually and intuitively. While the intellectual approach tends to divide and quantify (an approach we see replicated in Nike Fuel), the intuitive approach understands time and space through their qualitative multiplicity. It is through the intuitive method that Zeno’s dilemma is no more a paradox, and that we could bring about a more playful form of involvement with life and movement.