Smart shoes: Tracking fitness through your feet

We have come to associate fitness trackers and heart rate monitors with devices you wear on your wrist or strap around your chest. It is clear the race to make running shoes an integral part of the Internet of Things is lagging behind. This is despite the fact that feet are the most logical place from which to monitor steps, distance and other associated metrics.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets you can buy today

There are over 36 million active runners in the US and over 60% get some sort of injury each year. The advantage of purchasing trackers that are located on your feet are that these devices improve not just how far and how fast you run, but also how well you run. They do this through parameters related to your running form such as foot landing, cadence and time on the ground – metrics which you cannot get from wrist based trackers.

While this market is still in its infancy, there are a few players that have already come out with intelligent trackers for your feet.

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Sensoria Socks | Under Armour Speed Form MiCoach | DigitsoleRunscribe | Altra IQ Sports Shoes | Stridalizer | Kinematix Tune | Milestone Pod


Sensoria Socks

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These are no ordinary socks. Sensoria Smart Socks are infused with 100% textile pressure sensors to inform you in real-time when you are striking with the heel or the ball of your foot.

The smart garment connects to a lightweight anklet which wirelessly relays data during your run to the Sensoria Fitness mobile app. You then get information in real-time such as your cadence and foot landing technique.

The smartphone app monitors your run in much more detail detail and provides you with a foot heat-map as well as information on your foot landing, contact time on the ground, cadence, pace, heart rate (when connected with the Sensoria HRM or other devices), speed, distance, altitude gains, GPS track and many other paramenters. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track your progress.

The Redmond-based startup, announced at CES 2017 in January the second generation of its fitness sock. Dubbed as “Sock 2.0”, the upgraded garment improves on the above metrics, and provides actionable information from Sensoria’s AI coach on how to run farther, faster and healthier.

The company also announced a partnership with running barefoot shoemakers Vivobarefoot. Powering the shoes are two removable Sensoria Cores, each connected to four pressure sensors in the sole. Pre-orders for Sensoria Sock 2.0 will soon be available for $199, for delivery later in 2017. At the moment, there is no information as to a release date for the smart shoe.

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Under Armour Speedform Gemini 3 RE

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Under Armour’s latest stab at a smart shoe are the the SpeedForm Gemini 3 RE. Just by looking at them, you would never suspect these sneakers contain a built-in chip inside.

Released earlier this year alongside the SpeedForm Velociti RE, and SpeedForm Europa RE, the connected shoes track a range of stats including mileage, steps, and average cadence while training. You can also connect to the MapMyRun app to capture GPS info. The shoes automatically capture data and store between syncing. And you can forget about recharging – the optimized battery power lasts way beyond your shoe’s life.

The most interesting feature of the second generation line is its ability to track fatigue. Before heading out for a run, the app will ask you to do a “Jump Test” which, Under Armour says, scientifically measures and elevates the awareness of an athlete’s muscular fatigue level. The test consists of performing six jumps. Technology embedded in the shoes measures and averages the air time of each jump. The app then uses this information to let you know whether you should take it easy that day or push hard.

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MiCoach Speed Cell

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The miCoach Speed Cell turns your mobile device into a data-crunching performance analyzer. Either using the miCoach training plan or simply tracking your workouts, you will get detailed feedback after every session.

UnknownThe Speed Cell captures your 360 movement to record speed, distance, stride rate, and max speed. It stores up to 7-8 hours of workout data and clips on to your shoes. The app allows you to select a training program and get coached every step of the way.

You can share and compare your stats with your friends or the entire world via Facebook, Twitter or email, and get in-game rewards for your real-life workouts. The tracker is compatible with all shoe makes and models.

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Digitsole Warm Series

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With the Warm Series by Digitsole, you will never have cold feet again. Most connected products collect information and send it to your smartphone app. The Warm Series by Digitsole is the first step to a new generation of connected products that not only collects information, but also changes its properties.

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With a single tap on your screen, the heating function can be activated and the temperature adjusted for each insole separately. Thanks to the built-in thermostat, you control the temperature inside your shoes as you would do in your house or car.

There are also the more standard functions. The built-in accelerometer keeps a count of the number of steps, distance walked and calories burned thus turning the insole in a reliable pedometer. You can track your steps, log the distance walked and measure the calories burned.

The company also has other connected foot-ware in its product range. You can opt for the Warmin’ sneaker or Smartshoe 001, both of which allow your shoes to reach a pre-determined set temperature via smart technology. Smartshoe 001 are a bit more sophisticated. Digitsole refers to them as the “the first connected, interactive, heated, shock absorbent shoes with automatic tightening that can be controlled via your smartphone.”

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Finally, there is also the Run Profiler. These are digital insoles which analyze the 3D position of your feet and the characteristics of your strides. They will detect and measure your fatigue to prevent injury, analyze your gait to show you how to spend less energy, and give you audio coaching advice in a real time.

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Runscribe

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smart shoesRunScribe is a lightweight running gadget that mounts on your shoe and uses a 9-axis sensor to capture your movements. The device makes thousands of calculations for every stride. The full range of data provided by the tracker includes: steps, distance, pace, time, stride length; efficiency indicators (stride rate, contact time, flight ratio); motion profile (footstrike type, pronation excursion, pronation velocity); shock (shock G2, Impact Gs, Braking Gs); symmetry.

Onboard flash memory stores your runs and wireless data sync is available via Bluetooth Smart through iOS or Android. Data is downloadable via the Runscribe app and Runscribe web dashboard.

 

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With this little tracker, you can compare runs to see how metrics shift over time, the impact of different factors, like terrain, shoe type or distance may have on key metrics, and see how your metrics compare with averages from the runScribe community.

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Altra IQ Sports Shoes

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Running shoe manufacturer Altra teamed up with iFit, a company that specializes in fitness wearables and associated software, to produce the IQ. Just out, these smart shoes feature a multi-sensored system within the length of the midsole that can sync your shoes to your smartphone and give you lots of useful data.mj-618_348_altra-iq-smart-shoes-worth-running-in

This includes whether you are landing harder on one foot and whether impact concentrates on your heel rather than the mid foot or toes. They can also tell you stride length, speed, distance travelled, the amount of ground contact time, and cadence.

The app provides real-time suggestions on how to adjust your form, increase performance, and cut down the chances of picking up an injury.

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Stridalizer

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These sensor-packed insoles tell you exactly what’s going on with your runs. If you carry your phone, you can access real-time tracking, stress-maps and alerts during your run. Or, leave your phone behind, sync your data and review your running form and performance afterwards. Data provided by the app includes pace, distance, time, stride length, stride rate and ground contact time.

The app shows you a stress map, or the pressure experienced on your feet and knees. This is important if you want to avoid injury. Knee injuries account for about 42% of all running injuries. Stridalizer will help correct this by pinpointing areas on which you need to focus.

You also get real-time notifications on the stress experienced on your feet and knees, overpronation and overstriding. Should you overstride or overexert yourself too much during a run, the app will send out an immediate alert.

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Kinematix TUNE

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Kinematix TUNE is a Kickstarter funded product that applies in-shoe monitoring to both feet at the same time, allowing you to analyze the relevant parameters needed to assess your running form.

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The tracker builds your runner profile and continues to evolve it with each run. This allows you to evaluate your performance, for individual runs or even segments of runs, so you can understand where you performed best and where you need more work. The profile is built using running data from the insoles, GPS and personal information you provide such as age, height, weight, among others.

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Because each foot is monitored separately, this allows the tracker to detect and visualize asymmetries between left and right foot and heel and ground contact times – all of which can be corrected with the proper training. TUNE will then recommend specific exercises for you, and show show you how to do them via video demonstrations.

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Milestone Pod

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You can make any shoes smart with the Milestone Pod. Just clip them on and you are ready to go. The device remains attached to your shoe for the life of your shoes, then can be reset and transferred to a new pair.

The gadget tracks basic performance metrics such as pace, distance, steps and calories. So you can learn about your form, it will also dish out stats on cadence, stride length, ground contact, foot strike, rate of impact, leg swing and total shoe mileage.

There are no buttons, no charging and no need for a GPS signal. It works the same indoor or out. It’s always on, already ready to collect your data.

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