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Sweat it out… and make it count

In the past days at SXSWi I had the chance to attend several sessions on how technology is influencing the way we think about and achieve fitness. From designing footwear and apparel to coming up with new ways of driving motivation and commitment from consumers, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the fitness world.

I found the “Sneakers and Technoly: A Love Story” presentation a fascinating one. Not only because I am passionate about brands, fitness, training and sports, but also because I am a project manager, and the complexity behind the design and marketing processes are fascinating in their own way. Jeff Lyman from Nike and Steve Caputo from Arnold Worldwide provided a synopsis of how signature footwear comes to life. Designers actually travel with the athletes and become intimately familiar with the athlete’s personalities, likes, dislikes, game style, etc, as well as with any specific needs the athlete identifies as an opportunity to improve performance. The approach of the designers is not to immediately come up with a beautiful design. Instead, they tackle the issues that will help the athlete perform better initially, and these end up driving the aesthetics. It is the creative process in action. Athletes, designers, engineers and marketers get together to come up with a product built for optimal performance and with a beautiful design.

As you know, the Nike Fuel band was also launched at SXSWi. With the slogan “Make it Count”, Nike provides a way to track your activity and provide the person wearing the band with a real time snapshot of how many calories you have burned, etc, etc. This band has a built in accelerometer which allows it to detect movement and translate it into “Nike Fuel points”, measure calories burned, steps taken, etc. Then, it synchronizes to the Fuel app on your iDevice (iphone, ipad, etc) to keep track of your activity overtime.

This is a cool variation of other activity tracking and coaching devices such as the miCoach pacer by adidas, or even the Nike+iPod system. This one, however, makes “everything” count. Not only actual training activities, but any daily activity, such as walking, dancing, etc, etc. This is a gadget that will attract not only people who are active in sports, but the everyday individual who wants to track their physical activity throughout the day. So if you want to get fit, technology is there to help you, literally, at every step of the way…

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