Filed in Gadgets, Health

Except in this case, it wouldn’t have helped. The manufacturer had expected the buyers to buy the complete kit, so that everything would work together.

About a week ago, I’d bought a Nike+ Sportband to help with my morning walks. While it won’t help me walk better or more often, it is a cool gadget that’s a few steps up from my previous pedometer and handphone.

The Sportband is one part of a two-piece kit that is worn on the wrist and has a detachable electronic counter (like a pendrive). The other part of the kit is a tiny sensor (Nazley describes it as the height of a stack of three 50 sen coins) which goes inside one of the shoes. After calibration, the sensor communicates information to the counter on the wrist (the most important being distance) which is unplugged after each workout and plugged into the computer to send the information to the Nike Running site where the user has previously set up an account.

There is actually a third part to the two-piece kit. Actually, it’s more like an accessory. It’s a pair of Nike+ shoes that has a slot in the inside sole of one of the shoes to place the sensor during workout.

Before buying, I’d checked with my cousin’s son who has been using the gadget for a while. He said the shoes were not compulsory, the sensor works fine with any workout shoes, just slip it inside one of the shoes. And that was where the problem laid.

Because Nike expected everyone to buy the special Nike+ shoes to complete the kit, they did not include information on how to place the sensor inside a regular pair of shoes. The first time I used the Sportband and sensor, it showed I’d walked a measly 0.34 km. I knew that was not right, as I’d previously mapped the route online and saw that it was 0.7km, which I walk 4 times. The second time was even worse – 0.02km!!

Had I purchased a faulty sensor?

So I went to the Nike forums and did a search. And found that I was not the only user with a “faulty” sensor. I found that it was not the sensor that was faulty. The problem was in the way the sensor is placed in the shoe.

Apparently, this was a problem Nike had not anticipated because someone from Nike participated in one of the discussions (yes, there was more than one discussion) at the Nike forums and helped to figure out what was wrong.

This is how the sensor should be placed in a non Nike+ shoe:
parallel to the road and face up, with the Nike Swoosh logo “facing the sky”

I’m guessing that this placement problem never came up with the proper Nike+ shoes. I’m guessing if a user had placed the sensor “upside down” in the slot, it would not have been a perfect fit, so the user would’ve simply taken it out and placed it correctly. After all, there are only two ways to place the sensor in the slot – the logo side facing upward or inside the slot.

So, after finding the solution on the Nike forums, I placed the sensor correctly this morning and recalibrated it with the recommended 0.4km walk. I then did my usual walk and was glad to see the distance toting up nicely as I walked. By the end of my walk, the distance shown was an encouraging 3.94km.

To stop the sensor from slipping and sliding inside the sock, I’d placed a bit of Blu Tack on the bottom of the sensor and stuck it to the top of my right foot before putting on the sock.

No more problems. Well, not exactly. I’d like to get a holder for the sensor. Nazley has a DIY holder, but I’m a lousy DIYer so I googled and found various products. All well and good, except they’re not available in Malaysia. I know, because I’d gone into four sports shops (including Nike Women) at a shopping mall to ask, and all I got in return were funny stares like I’m not from this planet.

Now I need to figure out how to get one from the States.