Co.Design

Wanted: Nike Unveils Runner's Watch With Touch Screen and GPS

The beauty is in the details of the simple design and intuitive interface.

Popular fitness device Nike+ launched years back to much fanfare, thanks to a smart, simple design and sleek integration with Apple's iPod and iPhone. But CEO Mark Parker's latest training gadget no longer relies on Apple's branding. Instead, Nike has teamed with car-navigation company TomTom for the Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

Unlike many exercise pacers such as Adidas MiCoach and past Nike+ iterations, the SportWatch severs its dependence on Apple's apps and accelerometers. Rather than syncing a gaggle of armbands and heart rate monitors to your iPhone, this Nike+ device tracks your route via GPS and displays running data--pace, distance, etc.--on the wristwatch's front. If the GPS signal weakens for whatever reason, the Nike+ shoe sensor will kick in to seamlessly prevent data from being lost.

While certainly not the first GPS-enabled sports watch--we've already seen products from Garmin and Timex--it is one of the more elegant. Featuring a two-tone, mouse-wheel wristband and a high-contrast LCD screen with Kindle-like clarity, the device retains Nike's simple design approach to fitness gadgets. It isn't burdened with clunky buttons or cluttered by on-screen data--instead, it boasts an unfussy (if not limited) tap interface which lets users tap the display to activate the backlight and mark laps during a run. Pricing has not been revealed, but the device will head to retail in-store and online in April.

Nike-Sportwatch-GPS

It's not too surprising Nike would want to distance itself from Apple. Before, the partnership enabled both companies to push products--it helped Nike sell its fitness sensors and Apple hawk its iPods. But since the iPhone eliminated the need for separate gadgets, it's become necessary from a business and branding standpoint for Nike to reduce its dependence on Cupertino. It's far more lucrative for the company to sell an expensive watch than simply offer a free Nike+ app to iPhone users through Apple's app store.

Although the new Nike+ helps eliminate the need for lugging multiple devices around during a jog, we can't help but imagine most runners will still be laced with electronics regardless. Don't we need music? Heart-rate monitoring? Synaptic surveying? Gravitational analysis?

Who can get by with only pace and distance metrics these days, even in the form of a light-weight GPS watch?

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4 Comments

  • Doesn'tLikeKhans

    I will consider purchasing one, since it might encourage me to run more, just to spite Khans5330. He needs to be more forgiving of people who pay for their mistakes. Grow up Khans5330.

  • Gofast33

    It is great to see a non-clunky GPS watch. I currently own a Garmin Forerunner 410, and while I love it, it is very big. I will buy one extra one of these to offset the ignorance of Khans5330.

  • Khans5330

    I love Nike products but unfortunately have not and will not be purchasing any due to Nike's poor business decision to rehire Michael Vick.  Such a shame.