Earlier this year, the wizards inside Under Armour’s South Baltimore-based headquarters put out a shoe called the UA SpeedForm Gemini 2 RE that could track runners’ performance using a tiny sensor. The company seems to have been pleased with the results, as it released three more of those tech-connected shoes yesterday.
The SpeedForm® Gemini 3 RE (retail: $160), Europa RE (also $160) and Velociti RE ($140) are all lightweight performance running shoes featuring a tiny chip inside that connects to the app MapMyRun. The app belongs to a suite of other mobile apps called MapMyFitness that Kevin Plank’s company acquired in 2013. Under Armour has since invested a lot of money into that technology and is using to fill out its Connected Fitness product line.
Here’s how it works in the shoes: A user buys a pair, downloads the MapMyRun app on their phone or another device and syncs them up. Then, just as the user is about to go out for a run, he or she jumps six times. The sensor records the air time between each jump, which gives it an idea of the user’s muscle fatigue. The app can then act as a coach, issuing recommendations for how to approach the run in addition to tracking various metrics of performance. The runner can look at all of this data on the app’s dashboard and use it to tailor their workouts accordingly.
Under Armour’s chief digital officer, Mike Lee, said in a release that the shoes can help runners avoid unnecessary fatigue, pain or injury by making them more aware of their workout approach. “We are taking a scientific approach to recovery that is directly utilizing real-time data from your body to determine what level of workout you should execute to guide your training,” Lee said.
Under Armour was already going all-in on Connected Fitness, which includes a Bluetooth-enabled scale, a heart-monitoring wristband and nifty wireless headphones in addition to the shoes. They notably made Connected Fitness part of the deal when they signed a contact with Major League Baseball to make the league’s uniforms starting in 2020, agreeing to outfit teams with performance-tracking UA gear.
If the shoes work out – and if people are willing to pay the high price – we can expect to see sensors in more of the brand’s footwear for years to come.
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