Eight futuristic running and fitness gadgets to look forward to

Running brings all kinds of rewards – from providing time to listen to your favourite songs to preventing disease. But like everything else, it’s even more worthwhile if you can add some fun tech to the mix. There are some great gadgets and wearables on the market already, but here are some we’ll see over the next year or two that are even more innovative, taking fitness tech to the next level…

1. The Run Safer shoe

This new system, which has European Commission backing, is designed to prevent injuries. It consists of a shoe with an in-built sensor that monitors how you’re running in real time. You’ll then get feedback to avoid future problems via the attached website or app. It’s currently being developed and should go on sale in 2015.

2. Run-n-Read

Exercise is great and all, but it can really cut into your reading time (and don’t yell ‘audiobooks!’ at me, it’s NOT THE SAME). The Run-n-Read is a small device that clips to your top or headband, so you can read the book/blog/news site of your choice on an iPad or Android tablet while running on a treadmill without feeling dizzy, nauseous, or unable to  concentrate. It tracks head movements so the text moves in sync with your eyes (it’s even ophthalmologist-approved). It’s not clear when it’ll be widely available, but you can sign up to be notified when it is.

3. LEO leg band fitness tracker

A next-gen wearable, this little device monitors all the variables you’d expect – steps, heartbeat, etc. But it’s also sophisticated enough to measure muscle activity, fatigue, lactic acid, hydration, calories, technique, and more. If something is off, like you need to take in more water, it’ll alert you ASAP. It also becomes more ‘intelligent’ over time as it adapts to your body, and can recommend goals based on your data. Recently funded on Indiegogo, it should be available from May 2015.

4. Vyper

Based on the success of its Kickstarter campaign (which more than doubled the $100,000 goal with days until the deadline, probably in part thanks to testimonials from professional athletes), it seems like this is going to be popular. It’s a device to enhance recovery after exercise, loosening up muscles and increasing circulation using a mix of pressure and vibration, like a futuristic foam roller.  It will begin shipping this November.

5. Runscribe

A wearable (pictured above) that clips to the outside of a running shoe to analyse stride patterns with the aim of preventing injury, this was (over) funded on Kickstarter. It collects info from thousands of data points every time your foot hits the ground, to identify potential problems (and show where you’re getting it right), then when you get home you can geek out to in-depth visual representations of every aspect of your running technique. They also plan to start shipping this November.

6. Virtuix Omni virtual reality treadmill

Treadmills are fantastic when it’s cold (or when you’ve got a few Law and Orders on your tablet), but that whole run-in-one-direction-without-stopping thing is a bit limiting, and leaves you staring at the same old wall day after day. The Virtuix Omni treadmill is designed to work with a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift, so you can feel like you’re running free (in any direction) and/or race through your favourite games. It has an octagonal shape and a concave surface designed to prevent injuries. It’ll set you back $499 (£301) and is expected to launch by the end of the year.

7. iPod-controlled trainers

The inevitable next step after the Nike+iPod system, which put a sensor into your shoe, is to have it built into your trainer from the start. The less obvious step, but one that we can apparently expect, is for Nike to develop a running shoe that you can control via iOS. Earlier this year, the company applied for a patent for a shoe that contains a sensor and has a motorised component that adjusts the fit. There’s also mention of a ‘voice activated’ function, which isn’t described in detail, but suggests some kind of Siri-type technology for your feet. Time will tell (maybe on 9 September?) (but probably not) how much of this concept will actually come to market.

8. Push training system

If you want to do a little weight training to complement your cardio, this device is like a portable personal trainer. Strap it on your arm and it syncs to your smartphone, providing instant feedback on your force, power, strength, speed, and other factors. These results can be stored and used to track your progress (or compare with others). Plug your fitness goals into the app and it’ll tell you how many reps or squats it’ll take to get there. It’s available for pre-order for the early bird price of $149 (£90) until the end of August, and will be on sale soon after.

Diane Shipley