Nike plus Apple equals iSmug

nike_overviewhero20070905.pngImagine all the hand-rub­bing and mani­ac­al laughter that greeted the arrival of this little beauty — the NikePlus iPod attach­ment — through Hocking’s let­ter­box this after­noon, just when I thought my eyes were going to explode from proofread­ing (don’t laugh; edit­ing-related ocu­lar decom­pres­sion is a recog­nised phe­nomen­on). Aha! I thought, fond­ling the par­cel. A meth­od of com­bin­ing my innate geekery with a bit of exer­cise.

The par­cel was chunk­ily prom­ising and it did not dis­ap­point. Inside were two bits of kit: first, a tiny pedometer/transmitter that fits per­fectly into the trap­door with­in one’s NikePlus train­ers (good and, let me add, grief — into the sock it goes); second, a wee dongle that clicks into the bot­tom of my first-gen iPod Nano. Bosh. Nothing else to it. The iPod doesn’t even need to be restar­ted. A new menu item appears, and it is a simple mat­ter to enter one’s weight and start run­ning. Apple effi­ciency — it just works. Designed in California by Your Betters™.

The inter­face is a delight. Runs can be of a time, of a dis­tance. Calories are coun­ted. If the pedo­met­er com­pon­ent doesn’t do a good enough job of accur­ately cap­tur­ing dis­tance, it can be simply cal­ib­rated. Once you’ve com­pleted the run, the iPod will sync the data (dis­tance, times, con­tinu­ous speed, etc.) with iTunes and you can review your pro­gress. The data are even uploaded to Nike, if you want, so you can com­pete with people called Chet.

This is so cool I could bust. When pre­par­ing for runs in the past, I’ve actu­ally resor­ted to driv­ing the route just to get an idea of how long the route is; now, all I need to do is select ‘half mara­thon’ or — gulp — ‘mara­thon’ from the list.

The uber-cool thing is that, peri­od­ic­ally, the music track quietens and a sexy American lady tells me how long I’ve been run­ning for. She’ll say things like “You’re half way,” and this is just sol­id gold inform­a­tion. That’s exactly the stuff you need to know.

A last thought: I can’t quite tell wheth­er this next bit is freaky or cool, but as I fin­ished my run (at the door to my house; how’s that for tim­ing?), the sexy American lady told me how long I’d been run­ning for, cal­or­ies burned, and so on…and then I heard anoth­er voice.

Hi, this is Paula Radcliffe!”

Nervously, I checked the bushes.

You’ve just run your longest time. Congratulations!”

Er, thanks. But that’s only because it’s the first time I’ve -”

Be sure to check your stats online with NikePlus!”

OK. Bye, Paula.”


I stared, awe­struck, at the device.

Eighteen quid for geekery like this?

I got in, gave Britta a five-minute debrief­ing of all the fea­tures (in case she missed some­thing dur­ing the five-minute brief­ing I gave her on the way out) and went upstairs to my office. I put the Nano on the desk.

That’ll do, Nano.” I wiped a tear from my eye. “That’ll do.”

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

6 thoughts on “Nike plus Apple equals iSmug”

  1. And I am still try­ing hard to con­ceal my over­whelm­ing excite­ment about this new gim­mick…


  2. Just wait until you get to the end of a run and you wait, whilst details of the run are read out, to hear Lance or Paula tell you that you’ve just done your longest run or fast­est mile or maybe that you’ve burned some “ser­i­ous cal­or­ies” (as Lance puts it). Or (as in most of the time) you just get a long silence at the end of the readout, and you real­ise that there are no enthu­si­ast­ic words regard­ing your latest run. It bites.


  3. I’m wait­ing for the iCouch, which clips onto your bag of crisps and cal­cu­lates just how long you’ve been loun­ging on the sofa for and how many beers you’ve drunk.

    Very amus­ing post, though!

  4. Bonjourno! This is Luciano Pavarotti! You’ve man­aged to eat your body­weight in salted, MSG-laden snacks. Eessa bueno!”

  5. Ian, you brought a tear to my eye too. And I don’t even run.

    I did once have the idea for i-Beer, which is sim­il­ar to Roland’s idea. Not quite sure what i-Beer is but I’m sure it’s neces­sary.

    Technical ques­tion: what’s a ‘dongle’?

    Thanks for your com­ment on me plog, by the way. That female anarch­ist book sounds amaz­ing. I will have to look it up. I haven’t seen it on my wanders.

    I’m read­ing the Romanov book and next have a book about the tsar­ist gov­ern­ment and admin­is­tra­tion. What sort of thing are you look­ing into spe­cific­ally? I’ll have a think if I’ve come across any­thing appro­pri­ate.

    Hey, as the author of a tech­no­thrill­er, and one of the few who have read Taking Comfort, would you believe that the paper­back of TC was included in a chart of tech­no­thrillers on In fact, it peaked at num­ber 4! The amaz­ing thing is I had no idea it is a tech­no­thrill­er. Even now, I can’t for the life of me fit it into that genre. I am wor­ried that people expect­ing a tech­no­thrill­er will be sorely dis­ap­poin­ted. Who decides these things? Must be due to a tech­noglitch, espe­cially as the book’s over­all amazon rank­ing was far from spec­tac­u­lar.

    Carry on!

  6. i want one of those! although my bloody back is stop­ping me run­ning at the moment… per­haps i can hack it to give Johnny Vegas chim­ing in with “get your arse in gear lad or you’ll look like me, ya lazy fat twat!”

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