Under Armour is charging $160 for its new shoes, but they can tell how tired users are and automatically track their runs.
In early 2016, Under Armour unveiled its vision for the future of fitness tracking in the form of the SpeedForm Gemini 2 running shoes. Through the use of embedded sensors, the shoes would automatically track workouts, including data on cadence and distance. Under Armour has now announced the follow-up product, the UA SpeedForm Gemini 3 RE, which has the same sensors but with new styles. The company has also added a Jump Test feature that measures muscle fatigue. This is meant to help runners assess their current condition so they can alter their workout accordingly. These features are included in two other styles of smart shoes launched with the Gemini 3, the UA SpeedForm Europa RE and UA SpeedForm Velociti RE.
The fact that Under Armour is, in their words, doubling down on smart shoes, is a sign that the company is optimistic about this product line. The Gemini and Europa cost $160 and the Velociti is $140. Many high-end athletic shoes go for around $100, so the price seems fair considering the technology included. This is still considerably more than a basic wrist-worn fitness tracker, which, thanks to China manufacturing, has seen prices fall considerably. In a way, Under Armour is selling convenience.
With smart shoes, users do not have to worry about timing their work out. They can simply download the data and see when they started and stopped. Under Armour's shoes work through the app MapMyRun, which the company acquired in 2013. Additionally, the position of the sensors gives people access to some data that simply cannot be tracked through a smart watch or a wristband. This is seen with the new Jump Test feature.
The key to success in smart shoes might be keeping the price relatively low. In time, the price of smart shoes will come down and allow them to gain much broader appeal.