Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nike +, minus the Nike shoes

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Nike + iPodIt's been official for almost a year now - the shoe sensor does not need Nikes (and you don't need to take a dermel to your insoles either, like this guy did(second comment)). Gizmodo reported in August 2006 about Marware's $10 waterproof pouch for you to stuff the sensor in. Today, Gizmodo reported a $7.99 Neoprene pouch that does the same thing.

What was originally thought to be measurement using the Piezoelectric effect (which explains why the sensor needs to be placed below the foot), as reported here, turns out to be a simple play with Accelerometers. While a Piezoelectric crystal also fits with the economic, accuracy and power consumption models, using an accelerometer really frees the user from buying the Nike+ shoes. Nice work Mr. Jobs.

Incidentally, accelerometers are also at the heart of the new Wii(I had the previlige of testing one today - it's wonderful! Now you can actually get some exercise playing a tennis video game) and the Tango bike.

What's bad about this Apple device? Two things -

  • The device is not compatible with the iPhone. Actually the iPhone isn't compatible with the device, but you get the idea. Now you need to carry your iPhone and your iPod Nano so you can listen songs and attend calls while measuring your run. Quite a feat indeed!
  • Insufficient reason? How about the fact that you can be tracked from a distance of about 60ft as long as you have the transmitter in/on your shoe? I believe carrying it in your pocket might also cause it to detect movement (Piezos would've been better for this). You should keep it 'Switched off' when you're not using it. Doing that, however, is a chore if you're donning the Nikes. And it doesn't stop at just tracking, this research at the Washington University suggests that your travel information can also be put up on the Google Maps. Do you really want everyone to know how much you ran? Or how little you ran? One of these is a real invasion of privacy.

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