11 March 2021

    Nafisa Akabor

    The connected running shoe

    We take a closer look at the world of specialist sport shoes and the extent to which it’s been integrated with our smartphones and apps.

    Wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) has made it possible for everyday products to become “connected”. Wearable tech is typically tied to fitness, and we’ve had access to our health data for years now via smart watches and trackers. But now let’s take a closer look at the world of specialist sport shoes and the extent to which it’s been integrated with our smartphones and apps.

    Under Armour Flow

    Under Armour recently announced a new range of shoes called Flow. Apart from being extremely lightweight thanks to the elimination of rubber soles, the Flow Velociti Wind shoes are also Bluetooth-enabled and pair with an app, just like the brand’s extensive Hovr range. Under Armour has positioned itself as a tech company and is leading in the space by the sheer number of connected shoes on offer, such as the Machina, Sonic 3, Phantom 2, Velociti and Infinite. Its app provides more than just the usual stats such as steps, distance, cadence, stride length, elevation, and so forth. It also offers data-driven coaching in real-time, and helps you improve performance and manage risk of injury. Having tested out the Hovr Machina shoes, we’re thoroughly impressed by Under Armour’s offering. Its range of connected shoes is already available in South Africa; the Flow arrives on 18 March and will cost R3 499.

    Nike Adapt

    Nike came out with a self-lacing basketball sneaker called Adapt a couple of years ago that’s Bluetooth-enabled and pairs with an app. The shoe is made to adjust to whoever is wearing it. The company explained that the foot can expand during a basketball game, which is why it targeted these athletes first. The wearer can input different settings via the app to adjust it accordingly, for example, when they’re taking a timeout and then re-entering the game, supporting a range of pre-sets. The Adapt has Siri and Apple Watch integration and can charge wirelessly. We’re excited to see what else Nike has up its sleeve if this is what the teaser looks like.

    Xiaomi Mijia

    Xiaomi is no stranger to making connected lifestyle appliances, so it won’t surprise you that it came out with a connected shoe back in 2017. The Mijia Smart Shoe has a Xiaomi intelligent chip embedded in it but works with a separate module you insert into the shoe. This Intel Curie module is coin-sized, with a 32-bit chip, 6-axis sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope, and takes a small battery.  It tracks activity, distance, calories, etc. through the Mi Fit app.

    Adidas GMR

    Adidas has come out with the GMR, a clever solution in the form of sole inserts and an accompanying Jacquard tag (developed by Google) that can be used with any soccer boot. It’s integrated with the FIFA Mobile game, and has a gyroscope, accelerometer, and machine learning capabilities that understand soccer-specific movements. This includes kicks, shot speed, run speed and total distance run, which can be tracked on the GMR app. If this is what connected sneakers and sport-specific shoes can do now, we can look forward to a bright future with even smarter tech.

    Nafisa Akabor