Many congrats to all those who put in the long hours of training to qualify for today's Boston Marathon. Here's wishing you a safe and enjoyable race!
As an avid runner myself, I am always looking for an advantage. While this applies to all of the equipment that I use, nothing compares to my running shoes. I currently have about 6 pairs of shoes in my rotation, using them for specific tasks (one pair is for speed, one for trails, etc). Does it actually make a difference? Probably not, but like most golfers, this will not stop me from always trying to do better.
So, what about smart shoes? Will I take the plunge? I am sure our friends at Under Armour aimed their most current offering, the Gemini 2, at people just like me.
The Gemini line of Under Armour has been well received by serious runners since its launch. For many runners, it is the first shoe that actually pushed Under Armour into the realm of the "serious running shoe". Not that their past shoes were horrible, but you rarely saw them on the feet of any runners at any event. Most of them stuck with the tried and true brands.
With the Gemini, I actually saw them on the feet of some half-marathoners last year. So, the Gemini 2 was going to be popular, even without being "smart". But, to help push its technology angle forward, Under Armour has added some intelligence to these new kicks. They have a built-in chip that allows for tracking of some key metrics:
- how long you ran for
- your cadence (strides/minute)
- your split times
So, is this more gimmick than helpful? Well, it's not like this information is hard to get. Any fitness band / free smartphone app can tell you how long/fast you ran. As well, even the most basic running watch will give you more detail on the analytics of your run. While these shoes won't tell you anything that you can't find out, they will allow you to run without those other "smart" gadgets being required.
I think there may be a market for Under Armour with these shoes. It might not be the market that they are likely aiming for because no serious runner would go for a run without their running watch, and if they did, it would likely be for the purpose of "running naked" (without gadgets). This means that their market is aimed at the casual runner, which is not exactly a small market. There will be some serious runners who may use them (and not use the technology), but at that price point, there are better deals to be had for similar quality shoes.
I love the idea that companies are pushing the IoT technology envelope, especially when it involves fitness. I think that this is a decent move forward into the "smart shoe" realm. Knowing Under Armour, they won't stop here and will change the shoe space going forward. FYI, Under Armour, I'd be happy to try out a pair and review them for you...