Co.Design

New Nike+ Is iPhone Centered, Offering You A Personal Trainer And Workout Tracking

With the new Nike+, Nike fuses your physical workout with digital tracking tools--thus focusing on your head, not just your feet.

When Nike+ rolled out, it was clever but also limited: It only tracked how far you were running. If you weren’t a runner, you were left out of the fun. But with a revamp of Nike+, Nike is presenting a whole new, interactive way to track your workout progress on your iPhone.

The new extensions, Nike+ Training and Nike+ Basketball, use pressure sensors to measure and log your workouts--figuring out how high you’re jumping and how hard you’re running. Nike+ Training acts as a mobile personal trainer, offering up more than 100 different drills used by the brand’s top athletes, including boxing star Manny Pacquiao’s 30-second jump rope drill. Nike+ Basketball measures other stats: vertical jump, quickness and “hustle,” or how hard you play. Both extensions allow you to share your achievements. And just like with their Fuelband activity monitor, all of that physical exertion gets tracked using NikeFuel, the company’s proprietary scale for measuring your total physical activity.

Nike+ Training

This expanding universe of apps and hardware are an attempt to overhaul how we actually think about fitness and exercise, says Stefan Olander, Nike’s VP of digital sport. “It’s not a one-off experience; it’s a portfolio of services and experiences that ultimately become the home for your entire athletic life,” Olander says. “We know a lot about what technology can do to help you get better.”

The technology that makes Nike+ Training and Basketball possible is a leap forward from the original key-sized sensor you slipped inside your shoe to track your runs. While the first pod measured contact time, the new Nike+ sensor can measure pressure through a super-thin mylar-based pad that mimics the shape of your sole and is tucked inside the shoe.

The pad has sensors on four pressure points--under your toe, heel, and the first and fifth metatarsal head--that connect to a central “sport sensor,” Olander tells Co.Design. This central nerve features an accelerometer, processing power, and a radio to collect and combine data. “Then, through custom-made algorithms, it knows what your foot is doing inside the shoe and broadcasts it real time on your phone through Bluetooth LE (Low Energy),” Olander explains. “This is the intersection of the physical and digital world.”

The sensors. Click to zoom.

Nike is also banking on the gamification of everyday life, pioneered by social apps such as SCVNGR and Gowalla. Your motivation is meant to come from friends: A leader board that tracks how you’re doing compared to them. It also features Facebook and Twitter sharing so you can broadcast your NikeFuel score. We got a test run of Nike+ Training, and we have to say it’s pretty addictive. After placing first on the leaderboard for jump roping (not to brag), I wanted to slip the shoes back on to maintain my lead. Nike execs say that kind of competition will push people to keep exercising.

Nike+ Training and Basketball--along with the new line of shoes that feature the technology--will be available June 29. There’s no official leaderboard for how Nike stacks up against its competition, but we’re guessing that Adidas’s miCoach, FitBit, Jawbone, and the rest are feeling the burn--and stepping their game up.

Nike+ Basketball. Ugh, Lebron.

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9 Comments

  • Workharderplayharder

    you can leave your iphone in the locker, the nike+ basketball data is saved in the sensor

  • Mark MacKay

    My sneakers and my phone both exploit workers. How can I be sure that my shirt, sorts and socks are also contributing to third world suicides?

  • AR Worlds 2012

    It looks like Nike is dominating the sports mobile sensor business by far. I've been a heavy user of the Nike+ line myself and I just can't wait to get my hands on an API that allows me to use their real time data for displaying the stats in mobile augmented reality view.

  • Susan Bodiker

    Apps have the potential to revolutionize not only fitness, but wellness. And will soon be as integral to a doctor's bag as a stethoscope. The key is making them affordable and accessible to more than affluent early-adopters and technophiles.

  • Mikal Christopher SCOTT

    I am not sure everyone wants to train/workout having to attach their phone to them somehow... I might prefer to use an iPod touch.
    Maybe someone figures out how to make the whole Nike+ sensor pad transferable to different shoes, that would be killer. 

    Cuz I play tennis in Adidas, soccer in Puma, and run in Asics...and use Nike+GPS watch to in all three disciplines, just to track distance.

    Looking forward to some new tech!

  • ASV

    Take a look at the ADIDAS SpeedCell which does exactly that.
    During the workout you only attach a small accessory and afterwards you can synch the data to your computer.

  • CedFunches

    One of the main things missing from Nike+ was an actual way to track workouts. It sounds like a no-brainer but I believe they may have it with this one. NikeBoom! and Nike+ seemed more about rah-rah than actual workout productivity, tracking, training and motivation. 

    Hope to see more practicality in their new apps. 

  • Adam Webber

    It's an iterative process, each time making the experience better and finding the features and capabilities that delivers more on what uses want/need.