The Wearable Runners Really Want

wt99bThe other day I talked to someone who is training for a marathon. They tried a couple wearables to help in their process but wanted something more. Both Luke and I look into the mind of a runner and hopefully help in conveying the message. Luke also got a 360 camera and was showing us what it can do for his trip to Europe.

Season 3 of Wearable Today comes to an end with episode 99. Since Luke will be in Europe and I will be heading to SXSW, we will be taking a few weeks off before we jump into Season 4.

Wearable Today Episode 99 Show Notes

  • Follow us on Reddit!
  • Everyone loves having more Pie, so why not have thirds? The Raspberry Pi 3 was announced today, and has some major upgrades. It has Bluetooth and WiFi built in, and includes an new 1.2 GHz quad-core processor integrated on to the board. The Internet of Things groups are abuzz with what this could mean for more IoT devices, and even makes a great first computer for developing countries. The new device goes on sale today for the same amazing $35 price point as the Pi 2.
  • Google’s Project Tango is pushing the bounds of how our devices see our world, and Lenovo has finally announced the launch date of the first consumer version of the technology. According to an interview at Mobile World Congress, the first Tango-powered Lenovo phone will be launching this July, with a price point around $500.
  • Apple has still not announced their Apple Watch sales numbers, but another research firm is taking a crack at their own estimate. IDC has put their estimates at 11.6 million, which is a little under the numbers we reported a few weeks ago by Canalys. FitBit still led the pack with 21 million devices sold, and Xiaomi comes in second with 12 million sold.
  • As more companies get in to IoT and wearables, there’s the possibility of every manufacturer inventing their own standards, which could lead to incompatibility for customers, and prevent the widespread adoption. Some of the major sensor companies are now coming together to agree on standards that they can all follow. At the Embedded World conference this week in Germany, Advantech, ARM, Bosch, Sensirion, and Texas Instruments came together to unveil the M2.COM platform, which is all about sensors. The standards for connectors and form factors should make it easier for manufacturers to integrate with other hardware, but allow them to freedom to build whatever they can imagine.
  • Playstation VR hasn’t gotten much attention, but apparently Sony is about to make some big announcements. They’ve invited members of the press to an event right before GDC (the Game Developers Conference). Since Sony has not backed down on their claim that the device will launch in the first half of 2016, we’re expecting that they will announce a price and launch date.
  • One surprise to come out of Mobile World Congress was a new smartwatch from Haier. At first glace it looks like just another Android Wear device, but actually it runs a full version of Android underneath. It has a completely round 400×400 display, 8GB of storage for plenty of music, and all the requisite sensors. At only 200 Euros, it’s a very nice looking watch, and can run any app on Google Play. How well the apps work is yet to be seen, but you can read the whole article and see a video walkthrough on
  • You might think that Apple Watch accessories are all about that band, ’bout that band, ’bout that band, no watch face. But you would be wrong. VGEO is manufacturing custom bezels for the Apple Watch that are meant to give it a more luxury look. The bezels snap around the watch, but don’t block any of the sensors or buttons, and are offered in Stainless Steel, Black Steel, Rose Gold, and Yellow Gold, along with various inset gems. Pricing has not been made available yet, but this could be the perfect gift for that fashionista that doesn’t feel like her watch matches the rest of her outfit.
  • Ready to turn your board game playing into a new experience? Rick Johnson and Jeri Ellsworth demo castAR at the DICE summit in Las Vegas. It won’t be ready until 2017, but imagine watching a D&D battle unfold right in front of your eyes. CastAR is a company that raised over a million on Kickstarter, but ended up giving the money back and free headsets to all backers.

wt99cThe Wearable Runners Really Want

Jeff’s Take

Last night I sat down and talked with a friend who got a wearable because they are training for a half-marathon. In the next half hour I started to understand what they really want in a wearable. It’s the same thing we’ve talked about here.

To replace the phone.

Not completely, though. They want this to be something that can separate from the mobile and have some important functions. Like music. Any wearable nowadays should have some base storage on it. Doesn’t have to be big – 4 GB is more than enough to store music, contacts, and a few other things.

According to a CES 2016 Runners World Article, the Fitbit Blaze is what they think runners want. Only problem is it isn’t. The biggest issue for this device is its size – too big and heavy for a runner who is pairing down as much as possible.

The best watch would be one that is lightweight, stores music, allows for note-taking via voice – possibly something that can send quick texts at a coffeeshop wifi. It doesn’t have to contain LTE just yet, but wouldn’t be an issue if it did.

Pairable with a Bluetooth headest, GPS tracking, and most important, the size of a wristband that can fit snug against the skin so it’s not flopping around. Of course, not forgetting the sensors needed to monitor all the vitals.

Can that be accomplished in a 2016 wearable? Maybe. Then again, if it was incorporated into more than just the wrist without adding any major weight, then runners will definitely consider it.
This is the same thing that they look for in a Water bottle. The camel-back is a device that sits between your shoulderblades. It holds liquid and it has a dual purpose – to help keep you cool and help hydrate you when you are on mile 7 or more.

If the electronics can be distributed in a shirt or shorts to give the runners what they need, that would help emmensley. But no 5.7 inch smartphone.

Luke’s Take

I am not a runner. But I have run a few 5Ks, and ridden my bike to work a couple of times. So I understand some of the concerns about a fitness wearable.

One guy at our office rides his bike to work almost every day. For him, that’s 35 miles or more per day. He had an iPhone, so he got an Apple Watch. He carries his phone in a pocket on the back of his riding jersey, and wears his watch. He can easily call home without getting his phone out, but he has other fitness apps that require getting the phone out anyways. He also carries his laptop and extra clothes with him on his bike, so saving the weight of a few ounces from his phone would not be a big deal for him.

I do think a great offline experience is important, and Android Wear seems to be moving faster in this direction than the Apple Watch, of course it’s not well publicized by Google or the media.
Android Wear introduced offline music mode over a year ago, apps have full capability to run offline, and now devices can even have 4G built in. There is one problem though.
App Developers. And I say this as someone who works in app development.

Until developers really start using the offline features, it won’t take off. Google can build a few apps, just like Apple does, but 3rd parties are what really drive the market.

Offline run tracking with GPS, maybe a news reader, and of course hybrid fitness apps like Zombie Run would make for great offline experiences. Add a mapping solution to locate your favorite eatery, and throw in form of payment like a barcode for your Starbucks, and you have a real offline experience.

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