2012
07.09

I recently ran my first half marathon and I have to admit connected devices helped me train for what I consider one of the most difficult races I have ever run.

Now, let me clear the air first. I began running before even portable music devices such as Walkmans and Discmans were popular. So I am quite familiar with the solitude of running without a voice chirping in my ear, but when I first purchased the Nike+ sensor to place in my shoe roughly two years ago, I haven’t looked back.

While admittedly the distance calculations aren’t 100% accurate, I have become quite accustomed to being able to track my runs. One of my favorite features is when ‘the voice’ tells me I have 400 meters to go so I can pick up the pace. Being able to do timed runs also allowed me to improve my interval workouts.

Yes, my Nike+ sensor was with me every step of the way on my journey to finish the half marathon and actually helped push me to go faster and farther.

This is one of the reasons why I was excited to see Nike’s recent announcement about its Bluetooth connected Nike+ training shoe and the Nike+ basketball shoe. The company says the built-in Bluetooth smart sensors can track how hard, fast, and often you train—and be used on a range of Bluetooth-enabled devices.

With the emergence of the smartphone, many runners can easily use an app, in combination with the GPS or accelerometer on the device, to track many of the functions related to fitness. My running buddies just use the GPS, accompanied by an app, to track and monitor their runs.

The concern? The battery life. Both my friends were fretting on the starting line that their smartphones weren’t going to make it through the lengthy half marathon. However, combining performance-monitoring sensors with Bluetooth can have a less detrimental effect on battery life.

And consumers are starting to take notice. IMS Research says 36% of respondents that own a sports and fitness app indicate battery life is an issue. Further, the majority of smartphone owners who exercise at least once a week are prepared to buy a sports sensor to enhance sports.

It makes sense. Fitness enthusiasts are willing to pony up a couple extra dollars for the sensor if it means the device can ‘go the distance’ with them in whatever the sporting arena. This is good news for the M2M (machine-to-machine) market. Combining sensors with Bluetooth opens new opportunities for business.

Now, for me, if the battery on my device ended prior to the finish line, I would run on without music or ‘the voice.’ But I am likely an anomaly. So many runners today probably wouldn’t want to forge ahead if their device died midrace.

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