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Smart shoes change running

Wearable devices like smartwatches and activity bands have a new competitor: smart shoes. By ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



How the Hovr works

Gareth Heyns, who calls himself brand ninja at Under Armour in South Africa, told Arthur Goldstuck how the Hovr shoes work:

“The two main things the shoes measure are cadence and striding – steps per minute and the length of two consecutive strides. With both, it has a formula that maps out your distance. As soon as the sensor feels vibration, or you reach a certain speed, it will register that you’re doing a workout, and then gives your pace per kilometer, or cadence, as real-time feedback. Obviously it won’t give you a heartrate, and the sensor doesn’t have GPS tracking, so it won’t in itself give you the route of where you run. But if you have your Smartphone with you, it will pull that in from location settings.

“It can set the pace you need. If you want to run, say, 5.15 minutes per kilometer, it will set your per minute pace. In settings, you can choose a coaching option, so that if you’re running with Bluetooth headphones, it updates you and gives you coaching to keep you on track.

“The shoe with the phone tracks at least 13 metrics. Without the phone, the shoe tracks 10 of those – it leaves out GPS, weather and elevation. You can set it differently for the treadmill or outside. You can have a phone-connected and a non-connected run.

“If you un between 3.7 and 8.4 minutes per km, it will track your run as a workout. If you run 120 to 200 steps per minute, or if your stride length is between 1 and 6 metres. If you run for longer than 9 minutes or 1.6km, it will qualify you for a coaching tip, which is geared to trying to get you to run as efficiently as possible and minimise the impact on your body and joints.”

The shoe holds 6 hours of memory if not connected to the phone during that time. If one keeps the phone connected, the data is constantly synced. The battery in the chip doesn’t have to be charged: Under Armour promises that it will last the for the life of the shoes.

The best commendation for the shoes, says Heyns, is that Under Armour has not yet had any returns in South Africa.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
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