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 some of 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, balance 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 some good options.
Stryd is a lightweight shoe-clip. Its main novelty is that it brings an entirely new metric to the world of running – power. Power is a single measure the incorporates speed, form, fatigue and terrain. This helps runners better pace their efforts. A simple tweak in effort can keep you going strong through the entire workout or race.
Simply set a power target and run to see results. Stryd accounts for terrain, form, and fatigue to tell you how hard to move. This allows you to run faster and not hit the wall.
There are other metrics, too. The full range includes: power, form power, leg spring stiffness, run stress score, ground time, vertical oscillation and cadence. Stryd measures everything with high accuracy, realtime pace and distance. The shoe-clip also plays nice with over 30 ANT+ Bluetooth sport watches such as the Apple Watch, Garmin, Suunto and Polar wearables.
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, too.
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.
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.
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.
Running shoe manufacturer Altra teamed up with iFit, a company that specializes in fitness wearables and associated software, to produce the IQ. 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.
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.
Online training platform Zwift have released a RunPod that connects to your device so you can train in the comfort of your home or on the gym treadmill.
The launch follows the acquisition of running tech business Milestone this summer. The goal all along was the come up with Zwift’s own footpod, essentially a refined version of the popular MilestonePod. Something that has a more responsive feel for both indoor and outdoor running.
The Zwift RunPod is a low cost alternative to more sophisticated foot pods from the likes of Garmin, Styd and Polar. It gives those who don’t already such a device, a cost effective way to get into the game.
Data is captured 1,000 times per second (per insole) and includes info on cadence, step length, foot-strike, pronation and balance. Users get real-time audio, visual and haptic feedback that includes personalized speed and technique workouts and guidance on achieving a pre-set target. The lightweight insoles are embedded with 32 high-precision sensors that work in conjunction with two GPS trackers
The accompanying smartphone app spits out more detailed guidance which includes a complete picture of your running technique. You also get a Running Health score after each run which shows your injury risk in an easy to understand way.
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