Interviews

Under Armour Unveils Its New HOVR Infinite Incorporated with Groundbreaking Technology

by On Dec 8, 2018

Ever heard of having your distance, pace and strides length tracked without holding your phones? Or what about a free in-depth personalised run coach by your side after every run?

Groundbreaking Technology Incorporated With Under Armour's New HOVR Infinite!

Long distance runners listen up! This upcoming latest addition to Under Armour's digitally savvy “Connected” line is designed for you! UA will be launching the new HOVR Infinite across the globe from 1st February 2019 onwards. The shoe enhances how consumers experience UA’s proprietary HOVR technology which features a sturdy foam compound that provides energy return and shock absorption with every stride taken.

The main focus for the coming year is based on Connectivity. In 2019, the HOVR Infinite alongside with every other HOVR performance running shoe around the world will be able to connect to UA’s “MapMyRun” application. This allows runners to track basic statistics such as running distance, pace, splits and even more advanced gait metrics like cadence and stride length.

HOVR meet Digital. The HOVR Infinite will include a feature that analyses run data and provide runners with a real-time, in-depth personalised run coach that consumers have access to. They will be able to evaluate their precise progress and check their historical data, allowing for better pace prediction and planning for future runs.

Chief Executive Officer of Triple Pte Ltd, Michael Binger mentioned:

The sports industry is constantly being reshaped by technology, and digitalisation is changing the way we interact with sports like running. In 2019, we aim to elevate our customers’ running experiences by connecting them to digital platforms that will understand their needs and improve their performance. Our Connected Fitness investment gives us the unique ability to go wherever our runners are, via our digital community, and speak to them in a personal and intimate way.

RunSociety has an exclusive interview with both Under Armour’s Senior Director of Merchandising, Kent Collins and Director of Under Armour’s “MapMyRun and Connected Footwear” product, Ben McAllister.

Groundbreaking Technology Incorporated With Under Armour's New HOVR Infinite!

RS: Will you be running in this year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018?

Kent: Yes. I will be running in the half marathon.

RS: What’s the inspiration behind this model of HOVR Infinite running shoes?

Kent: What we said out to do is to build a shoe for runners who whether you are trying to finish your first 5K, or finishing your 10th marathon, a neutral cushion running shoe that is built to go the distance. We really want to ensure that we have all those features built into the shoe that was built for an infinite number of miles.

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RS: Can you go more into details about the technology incorporated with the shoes?

Kent: We focus on three things.

Firstly, more hover built into the shoe, so you'll see a very thick cushioning platform of an 8mm off-set. Secondly, we focused on more comfort, obsessive details with the upper, the foam, the tongue, the collar and the overall cost of it. Thirdly, we wanted to be more digital savvy, there's a chip built into the shoe that connects to our app "MapMyRun" where you can track and log all of your workouts while also getting coaching details.

Groundbreaking Technology Incorporated With Under Armour's New HOVR Infinite!

RS: Despite having sports watches and other apps, how does this technology stand out?

Ben: We are not trying to compete with or replace GPS watch. In fact, we are working on the ability of the shoes to connect with various GPS watches including Garmin, Samsung and Apple watch. What we are trying to do with the shoes is democratise access to this technology data as we don't want to spend $500 on a GPS watch.

But what we really want to do is to speak to everyone and give them access to this information that they can't get from just their watch. So you have a phone,  we can track that GPS  from the phone, but you are not going to get a detail information on your running form. so that we can add that to the equation and then give them feedback on how to run more economically with a lower risk of injury.

RS: How does the data record itself without the application being close by?

Ben: It's really simple. The beauty of it is when you set your shoe up, pair it with the app. Once you've done that, don't even crank out your phone, don't need to press start, don't do anything, just put your shoes on and go run. Every time you take a step with the shoes, they are recording your steps and they can sense when you break from a walk into a run. As soon as you hit a running stride it going to start recording with high fidelity and when you stop, it will stop.

Let's say I'm running and I start walking. It's going to give me 5 minutes of walking and the app will track back to when I started walking and trim the workout there, now I have my run. The pace will be lower, it will factor in them so your average pace will go down. However, the intention is not having to think about it. As soon as you open "MapMyRun", it connects back to the shoe and imports the workout.

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The short story is, it looks just like if you run with your phone except you don't have the map. You have all the data like distance and pace. The map lies in the original question of whether you are a beginner runner or you're a very experienced runner. The app and the connective feature can speak to both kinds of runners because they can help educate you if you're just getting started to track your progress, or you are trying to hit a really tough goal.

RS: In the future, will UA develop other products relating to GPS watch?

Ben: We are always looking into different solutions to solve problems for athletics. Right now we are not eager to get into the hardware business consumer electronics. We are really focused on the connective shoe experience.

Kent: We are always looking at other opportunities to improve that later whether it's something like connective shirts that measure heart rate or something like that. We are trying to stick to those principles that we talked earlier like making it easier to use, seamless experience to solve the problem. There are lots of things out there that might seem cool but they don't necessarily check off all the boxes.

RS: How has this changed the way UnderArmour produces athletic shoes?

Kent: I would say that we kicked up a presentation that everything we do starts with consumer insights and the insights that we were able to develop or through data collection that Ben team does help inform us on how we build a product in the future. SO we can resonate more with consumers.

For example, we can see what colourways are trending at the highest on "MapMyRun" then we can determine when we build the product in the future to make more of that colourways. If the red Sonic is running more than people in the white Sonic, we know we are resonating more with red colourways than with white. In terms of how we're building products and overlapping the product types with both consumer engagement and the app, allow us to make smarter product decisions for future product releases. (e.g fashion colour vs road races runners colour)

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RS: Working with lots of data can be risky, how secure will the data be?

Ben: The thing we always talked about it internally is that trust with our users is really important to us. We like to say "Trust is won, and if it drops, it is lost in buckets". The principles we operate around are being very careful and transparent with our users about their data are being used. We are really careful in managing those things. We have a dedicated privacy security team, that on the connective fitness side, we are constantly consulting them as we are talking to them about how we need to manage the data, how the process around that is governed. Thus, its something we take very seriously.

RS: What advantage do you think this shoe has but not the rest?

Kent: We embrace competition at Under Armour. Competitions help us, pushes us in the industry to make better solutions. The key factor of what we are building is the energy return equation. While we have this responsive "home" that is very durable over the long run, the energy web piece, we believe is the advantages component to fight back the force of gravity, that 2-4x impact that a runner experiences on a run.

The foam plus the energy web gives us zero gravity field and energy return.

Groundbreaking Technology Incorporated With Under Armour's New HOVR Infinite!

RS: What is the process of developing the HOVR Infinite?

Kent: It has gone through extensive wear testing over the past four months. All products at Under Armour goes through an extensive wear testing before going into the commercial market and now it's not just wear testing but also data validation. We have an exercise science lab in the office I worked at in Boston with two scientific treadmills and every day we have people coming through there running on these scientific treadmills, validating all the data from the distance, perspective, stride lengths and all that stuff.

RS: When will the HOVR Infinite officially launch?

Kent: The HOVR Infinite will launch globally on 1st February 2019.

Will you consider getting a pair of the new HOVR Infinite on 1st February 2019? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below!

What used to be a couch potato, now an active sports person. A person that enjoys all kinds of sports, especially Ultimate Frisbee. Running constantly on the weekends to keep himself fit as a fiddle.

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