Apple and Nike settlement shows wearable flaw

iType SmartwatchNike and Apple have agreed to settle in a class action lawsuit alleging the two sold the Nike FuelBand fitness tracker despite knowing the device’s biometrics measurements were inaccurate.

Nike will pay out $2.4 million in claims to people who bought the FuelBand between January 2012 and June 2015. Apple, which sold the FuelBand in its stores until March of this year, will pay nothing. Because it had better lawyers, we guess.

But the case shows how silly the programming on fitness bands and other wearable computers is.

The plaintiffs in the class argued the calorie burn, steps, and overall measurements in the device’s “NikeFuel” dashboard were inaccurate, and that Nike and Apple knew all about it.

Trackers often claim to present data like “calorie burn” based on several sensor readings and an algorithm. An accelerometer can’t possibly gather enough data about the user’s body and activity to claim to measure weight loss or blood pressure, or to make statements about the quality of sleep.

Manufacturers have been getting away with it because there is a low expectation level for fitness trackers. Apple and Nike were satisfied with this low benchmark.

Nike stopped production of fitness wearables last year, preferring to create only the fitness software. Apple of course released its watch.

No one knows if the iWatch is made to the same exacting standard that users expected from its earlier fitness efforts.