Xiaomi to Partner on Smart Sneakers

by Matt Klassen on March 17, 2015

Apple may have its Watch, Google may have its Glass, and Samsung may have, well, a little bit of everything, but up and coming Chinese mobile titan Xiaomi will soon have its own smart sneakers, as the company has partnered with struggling fitness brand Li-Ning to produce the new smart shoe. The collaboration is reportedly the first in China between a sports company and “smart” technology, and both companies are hoping to attract the younger generation to products that combine fashion, fitness, and futuristic technology.

But if you’re thinking these futuristic shoes might be something akin to what Marty McFly sported in Back to the Future II, where his sneakers were able to automatically resize and tighten, well these shoes aren’t quite there, as really all they’ll be is a fitness companion that feeds your smartphone the same sort of data that a fitness band currently does. That said, it’s clear both companies have a lot riding on this.

For its part, fitness company Li-Ning is trying to reverse its flagging fortunes, attempting to recreate its glory days during the 2008 Beijing games where its footwear for all the rage. Now, however, the company has fallen from favour, struggling through a prolonged restructuring, weighed down by bloated inventory and slowing demand for its products. For Xiaomi, the company is looking to build on its soaring popularity, hoping to expand its reach as it continues to eat up Chinese mobile market share.

According to Reuters, the once powerful fitness franchise Li-Ning will partner with Xiaomi’s wearables subsidiary Huami, the maker of the Mi fitness band, to develop the smart sneakers. The shoes themselves will have a smart chip embedded in the sole to provide feedback to users on running progress, form, and other such real time updates. The shoes will send the information to a related app where users can track fitness progress and achievements.

“We have chosen to collaborate with the Mi band because of Huami Technology’s strength in “smart” wearable products,” Li Ning said in a statement on Monday. “We hope to use this opportunity to provide professional “smart” running shoes to running enthusiasts inChinaat an affordable price.”

In concert with Xiaomi’s own mobile strategy, the key here is that the two companies will provide these smart sneakers at an affordable price, making them accessible by the mid range and budget markets in China, a strategy that will likely give this product a competitive advantage in the wearables market; that is, of course, if anyone wants smart shoes.

While these smart sneakers may be the first in China, they are not by any stretch new fitness technology. The smart sneaker will put the partnership in competition with established fitness products like the Nike FuelBand and the Jawbone Up, as such products offer the same running data, just not in a shoe. It’ll be interesting to see if moving this technology from one’s wrist to one’s foot will have any appeal to the fitness tech consumer, as again, both companies have a lot riding on this; one hoping it will revive its momentum, the other hoping it will help sustain it.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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