Nike FuelBand Is the Least Accurate Fitness Wearable

Nike is really good at selling running shoes. It’s less good, apparently, at tracking your actual steps.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) claims Nike’s FuelBand is the least accurate wearable device when it comes to measuring step counts. After putting 10 smartphone apps and wearable devices to the test, researchers found that nearly all of them gave accurate reports — all of them except Nike’s FuelBand.

The study was simple: 14 participants walked on a treadmill while using a number of popular wearable devices and fitness apps. Researchers then compared the participants actual steps with the number recorded by the app or wearable device.

Most devices and apps were very accurate. Nike’s FuelBand, however, undercounted steps by nearly 23 percent. This means anyone wearing the sneaker giant’s device has been walking considerably more than they think they have. Which could explain why your Nikes seem so beat up already. So maybe it was all an ingenious ploy to get you to buy more shoes? We reached out to Nike for comment, but never heard back.

The other apps and wearable devices tested were:

  • Digi-Walker SW-200 pedometer (Yamax)
  • Zip and One (Fitbit) accelerometers
  • wearable devices Flex (Fitbit)
  • UP24 (Jawbone)
  • iPhone 5s (Apple) simultaneously running 3 iOS applications
  • Fitbit (Fitbit)
  • Health Mate (Withings)
  • Moves (ProtoGeo Oy)
  • Galaxy S4 (Samsung Electronics) running 1 Android application
  • Moves (ProtoGeo Oy)
fitness wearable infographic study

Looking for more details? Walk your way to the full study here