Nike has announced the launch of its new Nike+ basketball boots in the UK allowing UK basketball players to measure a number of stats as they play thanks to a bevy of sensors in the soles of the new shoes. Pocket was on hand to try them out.
The lightweight boot is made using the usual materials from Nike and comes in a striking black and blue design that depending on the colour of your kit will either work well or look awful. Nike has a strong heritage in basketball and on their own this shoe doesn't stray from the path.
We had the chance to do some slam-dunk practice on concrete and for the 5 minutes we were wearing the shoe they felt comfortable. But that's not why you are here.
You want to know about the tech involved.
Inside is the Nike+ Sport sensor, a black-box if you will that is built into each shoe that collects information about the users' movement from pressure sensors built into the sole of the shoe and then wirelessly transmitted in real time the data to a Nike+ Basketball app on their iPhone.
This being Nike, the data is then translated into something tangible and pretty rather than an array of boring spreadsheet data for you to analyse later.
In the case of the Nike + Basketball boots it measures how high, how hard and how quick players play each game.
Sync up your shoes with the app and straight away you are given a graphical representation of your shoes and the pressure you are applying. Go on your tiptoes and the apps "heat map" responds instantly. It's great fun in itself.
As you would expect, the data also captures Nike Fuel points so you can make sure that information is added to your daily total if you are working towards a set goal.
In an attempt to encourage you to share your cool new shoes, the iPhone app also includes a 'Showcase' mode that allows players to record a dunk and superimpose their live data onto the video, which can then be shared with their friends via Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere via YouTube. Yes we did that, although we have to caveat that Nike were kind enough to lower the hoop so we had a chance.
In practice, and we tried to score "big" for the Showcase feature so we could share it you without being embarrassed.
First go we manage to jump over 20-inches - not bad seeing as we haven't played basketball for almost two decades (excuses we know), however that's still a long way of LeBron James' 40-inches plus when he gets some proper "air".
My immediate response: "Maybe I can do better.
So I try, try, and try again. I eventually get another over 20-inch jump and stop, but it instantly dawns on me and sharing the news with others that this is a tool that will urge you to do better in a task or a skill set that you haven't been able to measure before. It's about making it a game.
And in that regard it succeeds and succeeds very well. It's obvious to see that if you play basketball the idea of knowing how high you jumped, how long you ran, or even how intensely you ran over the course of a game or in training will be great for bragging with your mates.
Nike's problem however will be to help you take this new found data and help you turn it into something to benefit from rather than just some stats to say that once you were great.
The new Nike + Basketball shoes are available in the UK now. Oh and here is a video on someone at the US launch doing a far better job than us.
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