Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nike iPOD

Our story starts the other day when new friend to the Institute Kapgar had this story about Ipods and their rivals: Kapgar gets Medieval on ScanDisc's ass. (I disagree with the venerable Kapgar's opinion, and if you care to see what I had to say scroll through the comments.)

Now word comes that Nike is combining with ipod. (the story is below, if you're interested.)

Basically, Nike is putting a sensor chip in their new running shoes that will attach to an iPod, and give information on running time, distance, calories and so forth.

Now, straight up I want to admit I know very little about iPods. I don't own one, and the whole thing seems very silly to me. Obviously others disagree.

But no matter what your feelings are on iPods, is this technology really needed? I mean, I'm no Luddite, but just because we can do something doesn't mean we have to. Do people really need their shoes to tell them exactly what they are doing when running? Can't they just exercise? Haven't people done this for thousands of years, and somehow managed it?

Okay, maybe long-distance runners will find this useful, but be honest: won't this become the latest fashion accessory for those who just have to be at the edge of hip?

Those of you who have iPods out there, will you get these shoes?

by Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service, Taipei Bureau

Nike Inc. is putting the world's most popular music player to work in a system designed for its latest athletic shoes that tells runners the distance and time they've covered in their daily jog.

The company teamed up with Apple Computer Inc. to offer the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a wireless system that includes a sensor chip used in Nike+ shoes to relay information to a receiver that attaches to an iPod nano music player.

In a demonstration video on its Web site, Nike showed a runner hooking up the system to his iPod nano, which then proceeded to keep him updated on his running time, distance, calories burned and other information. It also displays the information on the iPod's screen. The Nike video can be viewed at:

The new system can only be used with Nike shoes made for the Nike+, and the first such shoe on offer is the Nike+ Air Zoom Moire, which can be pre-ordered on the company's Web site. Nike has also specially designed other apparel, including jackets and shorts, and an iPod armband, with water-proof pockets for iPod nanos.

In addition, a new Nike Sport Music section has also been added to the iTunes Music Store, and Nike has set up a new Web site to personalize the system for users:

The Nike+iPod sport kit is expected to be available by late July in the U.S. at a retail price of around US$29 each, through Apple and Nike stories and Web sites, in addition to select retail stores throughout the U.S.

Apple users interested in the shoes will need a Nike+ shoe, an iPod nano and Mac with USB 2.0 and Mac OS X version 10.3.9 or later, as well as iTunes 6.0.5 for the system. PC users will require USB 2.0, Windows 2000, XP Home or Professional and iTunes 6.0.5.


Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Because I run, I think it'd be nice to have something that you can use to optimize your training runs, especially your long runs. BUT, it's my understanding that knowing your heart rate is more important and there are already things out there to measure that.
I guess what I'm getting at is that, as a runner, I'd find it pretty useless. Plus, it's not good to run with earphones especially outside because you wouldn't hear cars or stalkers etc.

Tracy Lynn said...

I've decided that I'm not getting a portable music player of any kind until I can get one of those that they implant into your breast. That's right, you heard me, I said BREAST.

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Tracy Lynn, You made me snarf yogurt through my nose. I'm ROTFLOL!

Tracy Lynn said...

My work here is done. My entire goal in life was to make LJS snarf yogurt through her nose, and now I can retire. WHEEEEE! I love it!

kapgar said...

I wouldn't call it a fashion accessory because there is nothing that really shows. The sensors are hidden in the soles of your shoes and all that is added to the iPod is a little block that is 1"x 1/2"x 1/8" and it's pure white. So no fashion bonus whatsoever.

The thing that's nice about this is it comes with software for your computer. You dock your iPod and you get trend analysis of your workouts for as far back as you want to go. Ain't no pedometer I've ever seen that does that.

The other big boon to this new technology is that it's bluetooth. The additional piece on the iPod has a wireless connection to the sensors in the shoes. While this may not seem like a big deal at first glance, it's huge for tech geeks because it's the first sign that a portable MP3 player can use bluetooth technology and it's a step towards seeing it employed for things like headphones. Wireless headphones would be wonderful when you work out. How many times have you ripped off headphones accidentally during a workout by snagging the cable? I do it all the time.

I agree with LJS that it's not safe to run with headphones on; but it's never going to stop. Everyone's doing it, and everyone will keep doing it.

Hyperion said...

When I wrote that it was a fashion accessory, I was meaning more in the heads of certain people, the same people we've been arguing over (whether or not they are sheep).

I'm reminded of the novel American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, where the guys are at lunch and make a point of pulling out their wallets to show off their business cards.

In my mind--and maybe I'm just overly hard on rich people, and while you may not think you're rich, if you can afford an iPod you are rich to Hyperion--these people we've been debating would be damn sure to tell everyone they run into how their iPod is communicating with their Nikes.

Hell, I suppose I might do the same. It's kind of neat, and something you'd want to talk about, but I can just see people buying it just for that.

In other news, I have no idea what bluetooth means. I really know nothing about iPods (although I suspect that is a technology term, but I know even less about that.)

kapgar said...

Actually, I'm not rich at all. I play the game very well. My first iPod ($250 retail), I got for $50. My second iPod ($300 retail), cost me $18. Both brand new. Both purchased from legal, bricks and mortar retailers (Target and Best Buy, respectively).

That comparison to American Psycho was very good. Yes, some people would do that. However, most of the people I know since I work in a gym as a second job, never seem to show off their gear. They will flaunt when someone asks them about it or wants to see it. But they never seem to go out of their way to "show off," per se. Maybe it's just the area I live in. Who knows.

Bluetooth is a wireless technology. Many of the new wireless keyboards and mice for computers are bluetooth as opposed to infrared. It's just a much more reliable wireless connection. Those cyborg-like headsets that people have for their cellphones are also bluetooth. Typically crystal clear sound at up to something like 100'. Not that you'd want the distance with an iPod, but the clarity would be wonderful on headphones without wires. Bluetooth stuff now doesn't even have an external antenna. Is tres cool.