Under Armours new smart shoes will be made available from January

Under Armour's new smart shoes will be made available from January

US sportswear brand Under Armour has developed a new line of smart running shoes designed to track a user's capabilities and inform the runner if he or she is too tired to run. 

The Record Equipped shoes – UA SpeedForm Gemini 3 RE, US SpeedForm Velociti RE, and US SpeedForm Europa RE – are powered by Under Armour's mobile app MapMyRun. They contain a chip that measures cadence, real-time pace information, and the number of miles run in that particular shoe.

Before running, the user can do a 'jump test' in the shoe that will scientifically measure the athlete's muscular fatigue level. This is designed to help track the user's recovery status over time and provides immediate guidance on how to alter the intensity of a workout.

"We are taking a scientific approach to recovery that is directly utilising real-time data from your body to determine what level of workout you should execute to guide your training," says Mike Lee, chief digital officer at Under Armour.

"We know one of the biggest problems runners face is pushing through pain and fatigue, leading to injury. The Jump Test in MapMyRun is a critical first step for runners and will help avoid the 'training hangover' many athletes face by giving them awareness into their ability to perform." 

The three shoes are being made for pre-order on UA.com from 5 January, and will include an annual MVP subscription to MapMyRun. The Gemini (with neutral support built to run long) will retail at US$160, the Europa (to run long with stability) will also retail at $160, and the Velociti (with neutral support to run fast) will retail at $140.

"Footwear is a crucial performance weapon for runners, and what we at Under Armour have placed at the forefront of our innovation pipeline," says Kevin Haley, president of category management and innovation at Under Armour.

"When we looked at advanced tools used by elite athletes, it was a natural fit to integrate the cutting edge functionalities of our Connected Fitness mobile apps to uniquely enhance our newest running footwear, making those tools available to all athletes. We're excited to follow the success of our first smart shoe with this robust global roll-out of connected footwear to help athletes around the world maximise their training."

The launch comes as part of Under Armour's push into the footwear business, which it sees as a major growth driver. It also follows the launch of its UA SpeedForm Gemini 2 RE earlier this year, the brand's first smart shoe.

Footwear was the sportswear firm's largest growth driver in its third-quarter, with the division's sales up 42% to $279m.

Under Armour says it plans to more than double the number of units of Connected Footwear worldwide in 2017 with global distribution to North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and for the first time, Greater China. 

The company also opened its state-of-the-art Lighthouse manufacturing innovation facility in Baltimore during the summer – the first step in revolutionising the way its products are made. 

The 35,000 square-foot facility brings together product designers, technical designers and manufacturers under one roof to collaborate on new, cutting-edge products and more efficient manufacturing processes.

As proof of Under Armour's growth plans, the company is already planning a second centre, and for the launch of several contract factories next year.

How Under Armour's Lighthouse will disrupt production