The current Nike+ FuelBand bracelet tracks your jogging, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As one example, Nike slapped those bracelets on audience members at a Sleigh Bells show at SXSW, and made the colors of an the entire building change to reflect how hard the crowd was dancing.
That was neat, but it’s hardly something the average FuelBand user could pull off. However, they should be able to do similarly wacky things with their new FuelBands pretty soon.
Andru Edwards of Gearlive played around with a device he believes to be upcoming version of the Nike+ Fuelband. Nike+ Fuelband 2 will allow app developers to tap into the device via an API to harvest the real-time data tracked by the device (including the accelerometer), to use for their own ingenious purposes — changing gears in a driving game, remixing music by dancing (without holding your phone the whole time), and whatever else app developers can dream up.
This is part of a shift towards openness on the part of Nike.
When it was first released, the Nike+ Fuelband could only send data to Nike’s own app. People figured out how to hack it, which is probably one thing that led to Nike’s announcement of a closed API and an accelerator program designed to encourage more app developers to integrate with the device to build things with Nike’s permission.
Edwards reports that the Nike+ API will now include real-time accelerometer data, which would be a step up from app developers only being able to access data from the past — and in the case of music apps, it means everything.
Now, the only question is whether Nike plans to open this API to every developer (instead of only those who apply and are approved). If so, we’re in for some incredibly cool music apps — not just jogging helpers, but musical instruments, remixers, effects, and stuff nobody’s thought of yet — and, because they’ll be part of an official API instead of a hack, those apps will be able to appear in the official stores and run on non-jailbroken iPhones.
Other new details from the report: Nike+ is adding a heartbeat monitor that you have to turn on each time (we assume to maintain battery life). This could also be useful for selecting music or even controlling the speed of Carly-Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
Also, the new FuelBand reportedly has Bluetooth 4.0 for longer battery life and to allow auto-syncing with the phone, so you don’t have to do anything to make your phone suck up data from the bracelet; plus “faster,” “more responsive” LEDs, which we interpret to mean that the device has a faster processor, which can only be good news for app developers trying to do ambitious things with it.
Finally, he reports that Nike has changed its mind and plans to release an Android version of its own app, so presumably developers will get access to real-time FuelBand accelerometer data within Android apps too.