There’s currently a big push in the sports fitness industry towards wearable technology. This has largely come in the guise of smart watches, glasses and activity bands but 2014 could be the year that wearable technology properly aligns itself with your clothes.
The whole fitness technology revolution began in the 1970s with simple devices like the pedometer. For generations they made little impact on the market, with no mass innovation. However, over the past decade we have had an influx of increasingly technical sports watches. The app era, led by Apple, heralded in the idea of fitness focussed pieces of software that you carry around with you all day. This was the bedrock on which the red hot fit tech market is now built on. This market reached boiling point with Under Armours $150m acquisition of MapMyFitness.
Some would see the $150m acquisition of a glorified gym notebook as a typical example of a non-tech company getting their hands burned by dabbling in an area that sits outside of their expertise. However this is not a new strategy for UA, as they have been quietly snapping up a host of fit tech companies over the past three years. Intriguingly, they are yet to launch anything of note on the back of these acquisitions, but sources indicate that this could be set to change.
If one thing is for certain, UA have their eyes firmly cast on the wearable clothing tech scene moving into 2014 and beyond.
Wearable sports tech is not new for their American sports apparel giants. The Under Armour E39 was one of the most amazing pieces of fitness technology ever conceived, let alone created. For the unanimated, it’s a biometric sports top which collected such detailed sports performance readouts that it was deemed irrelevant for the wider market. Readouts including an athlete’s anaerobic threshold, aerobic capacity, muscle heat and GPS positioning on top of the more ‘standard’ heart rate data, were deemed beyond the needs of the wider public.
The possibility to connect that kind of detailed performance data into a vibrant sports community like MapMyFitness offers endless opportunities. MayMyFitness have created a huge active sports community, full of people who take their fitness seriously enough to want to measure and record their performance, whilst comparing it to their friends. It stands to reason that this sports community would be the perfect tie in for the Armour39 chest belt as well as more all-encompassing wearable tech like the E39.
This all comes in light of heightened competition from other sports apparel manufacturers in this space. Nike is adding a sports watch to their hugely successful Nike+ Fuelband range. The launch of the Adidas miCoach sports watch in to this arena too means that the major sports kit makers are all on the scene in a big way for 2014.
However UA have the opportunity to gazump them both by producing the first properly integrated solution allied with much richer performance feedback. We’re waiting excitedly on the upcoming product lines from under Armour.