I’ve been meaning to buy an iPod nano for awhile so I could use the Nike + running appliance to track my runs. We received Nano’s for attending the Office 2.0 conference last week in SF so I finally picked up the Nike device this week and just tried it for the first time today. All I can say is that this is what Web 2.0 is truly about. It has nothing to do with AJAX and rounded corners- it’s simple, invisible technology that bridges your real life with online and quietly improves your quality of life, gives you useful information to enhance your health, connects you with health-conscious strangers, motivates you to stay in shape and allows you to talk smack with friends on the other side of the globe all in the pursuit of better fitness.
This little gadget is about the size and thickness of three stacked quarters and sells for $30 at the Apple store. They try to sell you the special Nike running shoes that have a divot in the sole where the appliance clips in but realistically, it works anywhere in the shoe. I just took my old running shoes, removed a few stitches from the rubber logo and sewed it into the tongue. This thing is amazing- once you calibrate it, it tracks your runs (both time and distance), can calculate calories burned and talks to you during your workout to tell you where you’re at. You can designate your power song (think your own personal Rocky theme song) and if you start slacking it automatically kicks in to motivate you to exert yourself more.
Calibration of it was slightly annoying. I’ve never run on a treadmill before but I figured that would be the best way to gauge a mile and calibrate the device. Realistically the best way to calibrate it is to either find a known street distance or better yet, a racetrack. Once it knows your stride though, it tells you exactly how far you run. The NikePlus.com interface is slick- this is a great example of a rich interface (looks like they used Flex as the technology). The community they’re building with this service has to be extremely valuable to both companies as well- health-conscious people that aren’t just self-proclaimed but demonstrably so.
Possibly the coolest feature is the seamless integration via iTunes with the NikePlus.com site- every time you sync your Nano, it will send the stats from your latest workouts to your account on Nike+ so you have one place where you can login and track your progress. You can also challenge up to fifty friends anywhere in the world and compare their progress with your own (smack-talking is always the best motivator for improvement). The Nike / Apple partnership is genius on so many levels- Apple has a new product, Nike sells more of their shoes and sports apparel that integrates, Apple sells entire workout playlists of celebrity athlete’s’ favorite workout songs complete with voiceovers to inspire the runner, both get access to a valuable community.
If you have friends with Nano’s that run, this is an affordable Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah gift they will never forget.