Friday, March 12, 2010

Running and Tech part duex

Today's run that Nike+ "lost"
Gear that gets you Going

Nike+ System

Nike is a great big company, they do great big things. They invest a bajillion dollars in fashionable athletic shoes and equipment, they invest a bajillion dollars in advertising.

Apple is a great big company, they do great big things. They invest a bajillion dollars in fashionable computing and entertainment equipment, they invest a bajillion dollars in advertising.


Together they produced the Nike+ system for users of the Apple iPod/iPhone. The hardware part of Nike+ is a basic pedometer. It counts your steps. cool beans! At $29.99 this pedometer is priced competitively with other step counting devices - excepting the fact that you need an iPod or similar device to connect it to - that raises the total price significantly - but many people already own iPods/iPhones for other purposes so we will overlook this trivial fact.


The second part of the Nike+ System is the back-office software that interprets that data using an apple device (iPod Nano in my case)this ingenious coding allows the ipod to transform the pedometer's counter clicks into a nice pile of data - pace, speed, and with user input (weight) it will generate a good approximation of calories burned. OK, this is starting to look better than just a basic pedometer! Do remember that you also have an iPod with you when you are working out, so now you have a device that while blasting tunes, audio books or most often in my case podcasts ( I <3> Leo) will keep track of how far you've gone, how fast you went and will upload that data to a website where you can visualize it and more.


The third part of this little wunder-tech is the Nike website where you upload and store your workout data. This is where this device really shines. the landing page has all the flash you would expect from Nike - the marketing department is in full force and you can quench your swoosh-thirst with a complete catalog of apparel and swag.

Once logged in the home screen shows you your dashboard which contains current runs, goals, challenges, coaches, and an annoying and completely superfluous section called a "mini" - an atempt at wii replication, rather than Nike innovation.


The runs are cataloged graphically by date and distance - the system also asks how the run was - attitude, weather, surface and a space for a comment is available for each run. This section really adds depth to work outs, showing you graphically where you are and where you've been.


The Challenges section is the masterstroke of genius for Nike. where individuals can test themselves in friendly competitions or join teams and compete as groups. This can be a great driver for improvement in the individual - and provides a sense of community ( I had to get that screen-cap in as I was for the moment in the lead :D )


The website is written in Flash, which while looking "really cool and trendy" causes performance issues in most browsers. That aside and the pandering "mini", the overall package is quality. The Nike+ system does what it's suppose to do and does it well, after a simple calibration run, the device is fairly accurate and the mileage call outs are helpful. However the most valuable part of the system to the user is the community, a global and diverse community with friendly camaraderie and friendly competition. Even starting out, you feel like you belong, and you feel compelled to get more exercise! After all is said and done, that is the genius of this product. The device does it's job, but the community adds value that helps the device become more than the sum of it's parts.

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