Image source: Sensoria

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

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 Speedform | MiCoach | DigitsoleRunscribe | Altra IQ Sports Shoes | Stridalizer | Lechal Smart Insoles | Milestone Pod | Garmin Foot Pod

Sensoria Socks

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Image source: Sensoria

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 the ground 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. This provides you with information such as your cadence and foot landing technique, allowing you to adjust your technique in real-time.

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Image source: Sensoria

The smartphone app also churns out a foot heat-map as well as more general information including 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 more. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track your progress.

The Redmond-based startup, announced last year the second generation of its fitness sock. 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. Pre-orders for Sensoria Sock 2.0 will soon be available on the company’s website. The same goes for its first ever pair of smart running shoes. Designed to help runners improve running form and increase performance, the shoes link to the app to provide real-time audio and visual feedback during your run.

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Amazon | Sensoria*

Under Armour Speedform Gemini 3 RE

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Under Armour’s recent 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.

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Image source: Under Armour

Released last 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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Amazon | Under Armour

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.

smart gadgets for soccer aka football - Smart shoes: Tracking fitness through your feet
Image source: Adidas

The 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.


Digitsole Warm Series

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With the Warm Series by Digitsole, you’ll 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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Image source: Digitsole

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 footware 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.

Amazon | Digitsole*


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Image source: Runscribe

RunScribe 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.

On-board 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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Image source: Runscribe

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.


Altra IQ Sports Shoes

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Image source: Altra

Running shoe manufacturer Altra teamed up with iFit, a company that specializes in fitness wearables and associated software, to produce the IQ. Out earlier this year, 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.

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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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.

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Image source: Stridalyzer

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.


Lechal Smart Insoles

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Image source: Lechal

Lechal insoles and buckles can turn your regular pair of shoes into your personal guide. Slip these smart insoles into your footwear and get help navigating. The gizmo connects to the GPS on your phone to lead you to your destination. All you need to do is set your destination in the accompanying app and follow the series of simple vibrations and patterns. The shoe that vibrates is the way to go.

The intelligent insoles also double-up as a fitness tracker. They’ll keep tabs on steps taken, calories burnt, distance travelled and more. You can also sync data with Apple Health and the Google fit app. Battery life is a perfectly respectable 15 days on a single charge.


Milestone Pod

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Image source: Milestone

You can make any shoes smart with the Milestone Pod. Just clip it 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 as well, 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.


Garmin Foot Pod

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Image source: Garmin

Small enough to attach to your shoelaces or fit in the mid-sole pocket of compatible shoes, this best selling gadget is easy to use. Much of its benefit is for those who regularly use a treadmill although it can be useful for outdoor runs as well.

The outstandingly robust device uses advanced MEMS inertial-sensor technology to achieve Garmin says 98% accuracy for speed and distance. The foot pod is compatible with most Garmin wearables, as well as third-party GPS watches that support ANT+ foot pods.

This is a great little gadget that will not set you back very much. The foot pad is powered by a small, replaceable watch battery which will keep you running for up to a year.

Amazon | Garmin*

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