Preview: New Nike Products

Those of you who follow the RW Twitter and FB feeds will know that last month I attended a Nike Innovation event in New York at which Nike unveiled details of their product launch plans for the coming year.

Amidst the blitz of new product development presentations, three things stood out that I thought were worth writing about.

Nike+ Fuelband

This is the latest addition to the series of Nike activity monitors, to follow on from the Sportband+ and Sportwatch+ but is much more geared towards exercise beginners.

What is it?

A wrist band that measures steps, calorie burn, ‘Fuel’ gains, and it also tells the time. Fuel is a fictitious currency invented by Nike to denote how active you are during a day. The more active, the more Fuel points you accrue. You sync the device with your www.nikeplus.com online account and set yourself a Fuel target for the day (2000, 3000 or whatever). You can change the daily target according to how active a day you are going to have (e.g if you know you are doing a long run you’d set the target higher).

As you progress throughout the day a series of LED lights flash across the band from red through amber and finally to green, the closer to your target you get. You also get a reading of how many Fuel points you have scored every time you hit the update button.

How does it work?

From the motion of your arm. It’s s simple premise, if you’re active you’re moving your arm. If you’re not, you’re not.

Is it accurate?

It’s clearly not an accurate measurement of energy burnt or calories expended, no – but that’s not the point. The idea of earning Fuel is that, unlike calorie consumption, you can compare activity level with friends of varying fitness across different sports and work out who amongst you is the most active between, say, the runner, the footballer, the basketball player and so on.

Is it any good?

Actually yes. It's designed to be simple, fun, universally accessible and a motivation tool for those who feel intimidated by some of the exercise forums and gadgets available today. And on this level it succeeds. There’s nothing like glancing down at your arm and realizing your band is still in the red and you’ve missed your target for the fifth day in a row, to get you into your kit and out the door. It’s not the cheapest beginner-targeted gadget at £139 but the ease of set-up, fun functionality and synchronicity with the Nikeplus.com community make it decent value for money.

Find out more about the Fuelband.


Click through the find our more about the Nike+ Training App and Nike Flyknit.

Nike+ Training app

What is it?

A new training app consisting of a series of 15 different workouts by Nike sponsored stars from various sports: Rafa Nadal, Manny Pacquiao, Allyson Felix and GB’s own Perri Shakes-Drayton.

Each workout is short, sharp, and used by that particular athlete in order to help with their own fitness, and is designed to get you fitter too.

Each workout is demonstrated on-screen, then while you’re doing it, the Nike+ chip in your shoe syncs with your smartphone to give on-screen feedback.

You can create daily programmes depending on how hard you want to work and what your goals are and can share your results, tips and challenges with friends on social media.

The verdict...

Having had a go, it's a cross between a video game and a fitness programme. ‘The gamification of fitness’ is how another journalist put it - and that sounds about right. But having had a go on a few of the programmes, Manny’s skipping rope challenge or Allyson Felix’s Fast feet, and ended up wheezing for breathe while staring balefully at the score on my phone, it’s easy to see how these quick’n’simple workouts can play a valuable part in your overall fitness schedule.

Watch a video of the Nike+ training app in action

Nike Flyknit

What is it?

This is not so much a product as news of a new technology that Nike will be launching this summer. Nike Flyknit is the upper construction that will feature on a selection of their summer-release running shoes (including LunarGlide+ 4) out from July onwards.

It’s essentially a unique one-piece upper with a knit construction made from polyester yarns.

The idea of this is that the knit will give (in no particular order):

  • more breathability
  • a snugger, better, more personalised fit
  • less rubbing and pinching
  • significantly less weight
  • the chance for more varied and innovative colourways.

In case you’re wondering ‘if there are no overlays or other elements grafted on top, where are the support features such as heel counters and arch locks going to come from?’, the answer is that Nike use the yarn itself to provide these.

So, for example if you want to provide a stronger, stiffer support structure on the medial (inside) part of the arch area, a thick yarn and more of it will be used in the area. And the same round the back with the heel counters and on the top of the shoe to protect the toes and so forth. Clever huh?

And as for the opportunities for colourway innovation, well while Nike are sticking with standard designs for now, the chance to use differently coloured strands of thread woven together in different patterns offers almost limitless possibilities down the line.

I managed to distract one of the Nike security heavies long enough to slip a pair of these shoes on my feet and jog up and down and it felt, well, extremely impressive. Like running in a supportive slipper. But of course I’ll have a better and fuller opinion for you when I get the chance to test them in a month or two.

The idea of an entire shoe upper constructed from a single piece with maximum support for minimum weight is a pretty exciting development, so keep an eye on this throughout the summer.

Read more about Nike+ Flyknit.