Watch: A Sci-Fi-Worthy Run Tracker From Nike

Stale running charts get reimagined with a dose of sci-fi glamour.

Nike has some of the best exercise interfaces around, yet when you’re putting in several miles a week and tracking your progress accordingly, anything can get stale.


That’s why MvsW, an interactive campaign by Nike Hong Kong, is so exciting. For this ongoing gender race to put down the most total miles the fastest, Pill & Pillow created a series of men versus women, blue versus red visualizations that put the best fitness charts to shame.

“As fanboys of sci-fi movies, we wanted to create an interface like Tron with the control panel of the Ironman’s suit,” Creative Director Henry Chu explains. “Backlit graphics show data progressively, with a feel of speediness.”

Indeed, the first thing you realize is that everything about the interface feels fast. Virtual cameras don’t just tilt and pan, they barrel roll into scenes. Lines race across vast, undefinable spaces. And while there’s certainly an element of sci-fi throwback–the comparisons to Tron are unavoidable–what the images lack in fidelity, they make up in sheer velocity.

But there is a method to the madness. Amidst the stark visual overload, the backend is crunching six attributes from Nike+ (Total Distance, Total Time, Farthest Run, Longest Run, Average Pace, and Fastest 1K). Take a closer look, and you’ll see that distances are always depicted in bars, and circles represent time. Their animations may often start with visual intensity, but they’ll always end with a clear, definable result.

The ultimate effect is that runners can feel like they’re in the middle of a high-speed race, even though, technically, each gender is contributing their miles at vastly different times (some people might run after work, others only on weekends). These visualizations become a unifying force to suck runners back into the race–a trick Nike+ has used before–intensified by the element of speed.

The good news is, you don’t need to actually live in Hong Kong to take part. Any Nike+ runner can log in at the site and join the race. So down a Cliff bar and fire up the light cycle. There are gender bragging rights at stake. (And ladies, you’re currently behind.)


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.