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Apple, Nike exercise iPods to track workouts

NEW YORK — Apple and Nike have unveiled an iPod gizmo to put more rhythm in your run: the Nike+iPod Sports Kit, the first product coming out of a new partnership between the companies.

The wireless kit lets Nike's new Air Zoom Moire shoes send fitness data to your iPod Nano — via a sensor you tuck inside the running shoe and a small receiver that attaches to the Nano. As you run, the sensor records your distance, time, pace and calories burned in real time and displays data on the Nano. At the push of a button, audio feedback is delivered through Nano's earbuds.

"One of the most powerful influences on running is music," Nike CEO Mark Parker says.

You can customize a workout (how far, how long) and choose playlists to hear on the run. You can also set up a "PowerSong" that kicks in when you need to summon a burst of energy.

From the Nano, you can upload workout data to Apple's iTunes and a new nikeplus.com website. You can track progress over time and compete virtually with other runners.

"The two companies are both really technology driven, it's just that (we're) in completely different areas of technology," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in an interview Tuesday.

"When we get together, the ideas just flow," Parker says. "We're just sort of scratching the surfaces with this new product."

Still, there were a few creative conflicts in the 18 months leading up to the announcement. "There were lots of negotiations around the (device) that goes in the shoe," Jobs says. "Our engineers really liked that to be as big as possible, whereas shoe designers would have liked it to be as small as possible."

Jobs and Parker say the sensor's battery will outlast the shoes.

A self-described "fair-weather runner," Jobs hasn't tried the product. But seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, a Nike celebrity endorser, has.

Armstrong is in training for the New York City Marathon. He ran a route with the Nike+iPod, then drove it in his car to test accuracy: It clocked in at 5.2 miles on the Nano; the car route came in at 5.3 miles, he says. "When you run you cut some corners. I was pretty surprised for it to be that accurate." You can use the kit out of the box or calibrate it.

The $29 kit will be available within 60 days at Apple stores and shops where Nike footwear is sold. "It's a really inexpensive accessory for two premium-priced products," says Ross Rubin of the NPD Group research firm.

Of course, you'll have to spend at least $149 for the Nano and $100 for the shoes. Six other iPod-ready Nike shoe models are coming.

Apple, Nike exercise iPods to track workouts - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 -

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