iPhone idea: “nike+” app without the nike bit…

Posted on Jun 23, 2008 in iPhone

So whilst out jogging today (I’ve just started trying to get back in shape), I was thinking about the lack of a nike+ adapter that’s compatible with the iPhone. That got me thinking how great it would be if they made a bluetooth version, so you didn’t need the adapter for your iPhone, just the sensor for your shoe.

It’s a sensor dummy!

But hold on a minute – the sensor is basically just an accelerometer, right? Which the iPhone already has built-in. So theoretically all you would need to do is write a bit of software and hey presto! – you’ve got yourself a nice little “nike-” running-tracking system.

Throw a bit of cell-tower triangulation (or GPS on the 3G iPhone) into the mix and you’ve potentially got something that’s even better.

One iPhone-development project called “SyncStep” already uses the accelerometer to attempt to sync music to your walking pace, so I believe that technically, it should be possible.

According to several rumors, Nike will be bringing their system to Apple’s touch devices, but it’s hard to imagine them going for a software-only solution, as they mainly benefit from the concept by selling more “Nike+ compatible” shoes.

So if you’re a Mac software developer and feel like taking a stab at this idea, I’ll sell it to you for a new Macbook Pro!

Update: Thoughts on practicability

I’ve actually tried this out a bit using AcceleroLog to record the sensor information whilst jogging. Although I couldn’t make much sense out of it, I don’t think it would be that impossible to evaluate it and match the peaks and valleys up with individual strides.

The only issue I can think of is that Apple and Nike probably have a number of patents on the system, which might make a 3rd party app a bit of a tricky proposition…

(Ad-Alert! If you were thinking of purchasing the Nike+ kit for your nano anyway, consider supporting the site by purchasing it through this Amazon affiliate link.)


  1. Agreed!! This would be awesome! I’ve heard that Apple likes the Nike ONLY on the Nano to try to stimulate sales on that device. ie, iPhone for main device, Shuffle for the kids and a Nano for running. This is lame in my opinion, just let them all work with the sensor and I’ll run with what I want to run with.

    Even if nobody makes what you’re proposing, I’d still just like an iphone formatted running log to enter my runs, like what Buxfer does with money.

  2. Hold on to your horses and see what appears in the AppStore this summer… You may be very happy! :)

  3. Well now you’ve got my attention! Look forward to hearing more Rickland!

  4. Don’t worry… When Apple opens the AppStore, there will be many announcement from several companies I’m sure.

    But, let’s consider the Nike+ and Apple situation for a moment. These two major companies have invested a lot of money on their partnership. Neither is going to be happy with a software only solution, even though it may be the right thing for the consumer. I expect the longer term solution for a third party developer would be to work together with both companies.

    In the short term, you must think about the limits Apple may put on developers who want to stay on their friendly side.

    Apple’s policy is NO ONE may run an application on the iPhone in the background. And there are no exceptions. If one proved an order of magnitude improvement in efficiency by running the the background instead of the foreground, it wouldn’t make a difference. But even so, the application is far more power efficient and accurate than any other platform.

    Nokia has their N series (currently outside US, but we’ll see what this year brings) which boasts their Activity Monitor. It’s fairly spiffy, runs only in the foreground and kills the battery in a hurry.

    Then there are the speculations about what LG, Android and others will be doing soon.

    Accelerometers and their applications have barely begun to show their usefulness. I am looking forward to this new era in anticipation. I’ve met some really smart people doing amazing things with accelerometers over the past couple of years. It’s about time for many of them to start releasing their products and services.

  5. Damn, that’s a bright & uncommon idea, man))
    How accurate is that app you described (the one that chooses music depending on one’s walking pace)?