Apple and Nike last week jointly announced the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a two-piece wireless gadget available in late June that pairs Nike sneakers and an iPod nano to help runners track their performance. The iPod will display info and provide audible feedback during the run, and will sync your running stats to iTunes when you connect to a computer running iTunes 6.0.5 (available soon as a free download). The same info can be synchronized to Nike’s nikeplus.com Web site, where you’ll be able to match up against other runners.
Nike’s new "Nike+" shoe styles, beginning with the Nike+ Air Zoom Moire, include a pocket under the insole to hold the Nike+iPod sensor, featuring an accelerometer that wirelessly transmits your running stats (including distance, time, pace, and calories burned) to an iPod nano’s matching receiver, which plugs into the nano’s dock connector.
Before running, you can select a "Power Song" that will help you past those slow stretches, offering extra inspiration at the touch of a button. The iTunes Music Store will offer special music iMixes suitable for running, with introductions recorded by athletes.
Apple says the Nike+iPod Sport Kits will be available in late June for $30 at apple.com, nike.com, Apple Stores, Apple authorized resellers, Niketown stores, and select Nike retailers; the iPod nano ($150 to $250) and Nike+ sneakers ($85 to $110) are, of course, sold separately. The company says the sensor’s built-in battery won’t be replaceable, and battery life will depend on usage and other factors, so you may end up having to buy new sensors every so often. The unit is water-resistant, meaning that it shouldn’t have trouble with the soaking associated with rainy runs, although it won’t withstand sustained submersion.
There’s no inherent reason why this clever joint project couldn’t (though it doesn’t) work with other iPod models sporting the dock connector, but I suspect Apple wants to encourage runners to use iPod models with solid-state memory rather than a less shock-resistant hard drive.
For some opinions about the Nike+iPod Sport Kit from Adam, who in another life is a competitive runner, listen in on his MacNotables podcast on the topic.