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When the Nike+iPod Sport Kit was announced, I was really excited about being able to track my running progress with my iPod nano. I was not excited, however, by the thought of having to switch to Nike running shoes to use it. The notch that’s cut into Nike’s new shoes for the transmitter is a brilliant idea, but I don’t want to sacrifice the support and comfort I get from my trusty Saucony Hurricanes. Since the Sport Kit transmitter is just an accelerometer, I figured there had to be an easy way to attach it to my shoe laces.

Well, my Nike+iPod kit arrived yesterday and without wasting any time, I tucked the transmitter under my laces and jumped on the treadmill. Everything seemed to work just fine, and the transmitter hardly shifted during my 10 minute trial run. But I knew that If I wanted to run outdoors for long distances, I’d need to come up with a more secure solution.

After 17 seconds of brainstorming, it hit me: Velcro. This morning I dug through my wife’s sewing kit and found a strip of velcro with adhesive backing, a needle and some thread.

First, I placed the transmitter under my laces near the toe and marked the position that I wanted to attach the transmitter, making sure it was underneath a cross in the lace.

Nike+iPod Shoe Hack

I then cut a small piece of velcro and attached the “hard” side to the back of the transmitter, being careful not to cover the sleep button.

Nike+iPod Shoe Hack 2

Next, I stuck the “soft” side of the velcro onto the tongue of my shoe where I had previously marked.

Nike+iPod Shoe Hack 3

Using the needle and thread, I sewed a few stitches through the velcro and the tongue of my shoe, securing them together. It can be tricky to push the needle through the layers of fabric and the velcro’s adhesive, be careful. Six to eight stitches should do.

Nike+iPod Shoe Hack 4

Lastly, I attached the transmitter to the shoe and laced it back up.

Nike+iPod Shoe Hack 5

The whole process took about 10 minutes (including taking the pictures) and doesn’t permanently damage the shoe.

Early results seem to indicate that having the transmitter under the laces rather than inside the shoe does not affect the accuracy of the device, but I’ll run some tests over the weekend. EDIT: My results are posted here.

Update Sunday, July 16, 2006:
Several people across the Interweb have suggested that I’ll come home from a run one day to discover that my transmitter is gone, having fallen out of my shoe along the route. There are two reasons why I’m not so worried:

1) I’ve run a total of 15 miles over three days and the transmitter is still securely stuck to my shoe. If you apply the velcro properly and make sure that it is tucked under your laces, you should have no problems.

2) If the transmitter does fall out of your shoe while you’re running, the iPod nano will stop recording any activity. After two minutes, the voice will announce “Activity stopped. Press the center button to resume your workout.” If I ever hear this announcement while I’m running, I’ll check my shoe. If the transmitter is gone, I know it’s exactly two minutes behind me.

Now, if the transmitter falls out and gets stuck to a piece of gum on another runner’s shoe, I guess I’m S.O.L.

Update Sunday, July 25, 2006:
I’ve posted some additional tips here to help you make sure that you don’t inadvertently lose your transmitter when using the Nike+iPod kit with your own running shoes.

Update Saturday, December 30, 2006:
I’m happy to report that after 5 months, I’m still running with the sensor attached to my shoe as described above. No problems. But since I first posted this, several commercial products designed for attaching the sensor to your shoe have been introduced. Be sure to take a look at my Nike+iPod Shoe Hack and Sensor Accessory Round-Up to see the most popular ones. I’ve also written a Nike+iPod FAQ to help answer other general questions about the Sport Kit. Here’s wishing you many happy miles in 2007.

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244 Responses to “Shoe Hacker: Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Mod”

  1. SharkDrive says:

    Podophile, Thanks so much for posting this. I went to 5 different locations trying to find the “special” nike shoes that the transmitter fits in. No one has them yet, and most didn’t even know what it was….lol.

    I have been wondering if it would work without the shoes, now i know it can. Please post your results as you continue to test this.



  2. motherduce says:

    Nice idea, keep us posted on your results. I need new shoes anyway, so I may still go for the Nikes, but maybe not…

  3. Chris Eidhof says:

    Nice! I’m about to buy new shoes and I was hoping that the sensor would work on other brands too. Cool :)

  4. Kevin says:

    Hahaha, nice one!

  5. Rich Akerboom says:

    Anyone have any idea what kind of accelerometer is in there? Can it track motion in 3d?

  6. Dan Heringer says:

    I was curious about the same thing for my wife. Thank’s for the post. One quick question … does anyone know if it will work with iPODs other than the nano? All of the literature says nano, but I’d rather not have to buy one just for this.

  7. Podophile says:

    Dan – The Nike+iPod Sport Kit only works with the nano at this time. One reason for this is that the full-sized iPods use a hard drive, which tend to lock up when shaken or jostled too much (as it would be when jogging). The nano uses flash memory, which has no moving parts, and is better suited for exercise.

    When you plug the Nike+ dongle into a regular iPod, you get the message “The currently attached accessory is not supported by this iPod.”

  8. [...] Podophile » Blog Archive » Shoe Hacker: Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Mod (tags: ipod nike apple hacks) [...]

  9. paul says:

    Thanks, I really liked your hack and I immediately went to Amazon to place an order for one. It was only afterwards that I read that it only works with the Nano. I was able to cancel the order. Thanks, maybe I’ll try this after I get a Nano.

  10. Podophile says:

    Paul – I know it sucks… but you really don’t want to do a lot of running with a hard drive based mp3 player (though I used to do it on occasion with no real problems). Thanks for reading. I hope there’s a nano in your future…

  11. test says:

    Thanks mr. podophile!!!!

  12. Peter Garner says:

    Thanks for this experiment in the interest of podscience! If I had a Nano, I might just go out and buy one of these gizmo’s. Alas, the Nano in our family is my wife’s…

  13. [...] Okay, so some genius has figured how to use the Nike iPod thing to work with regular running shoes. The key: velcro. As a runner this interests me. Mostly because I don’t have to run in Nikes which from what I’ve heard aren’t the best. Yes, I know I’m succumbing to marketing by actually thinking about buying this thing but it panders to a male’s base need of gadgets. Why deny that. Also, I wrote a song today. I recorded it on the digital voice recorder that I use for the other podcast. I’m thinking of doing a podcast concert thing if there is such a thing. Also, one more thing: what’s the deal with all the softcore porn that Showcase has been showing on Friday nights lately. I suppose that the previous sentence indicts me as someone who watches that but really, other than infomercials what else is on between 1:35 and 3:35AM? [...]

  14. Nicolas says:

    Too bad they don’t stil make the Kangaroos shoes… On a personal note,I just ducted taped mine to a pair of Chuck Taylor’s, and the use of the treadmill really helps to assure proper calibration!

  15. fuzz says:

    ‘Roos still exist! Been seeing them at Elder Beerman for the ladies. Not sure about the men…

    Podophile — how big is the transmitter? Will it fit in the ‘Roos “pouch”?

  16. posidian says:

    I know shaking the drives isn’t the best idea, but I ran with my 4g iPod for a year and a half with no problems, and now run with my 60gb video iPod. I wish this worked with other 5g iPods, because I’m not going to buy a nano just for running.

  17. Dan says:

    This “not good to run with a hard based player” is BS with the iPod.. Yes, It does have a hard drive but It also has a 64mb internal flash memory which is used to store the current song your playing, and stores around 6-7+ other songs that will be played after that. The Hard drive in the iPod only moves if you change a song manually or if it needs to store the next 6-7+ songs. And when I jog/exercise/ride bikes I usually listen to a playlist, so the iPod’s hard drive is rarely moving(And if it does its only for a few seconds). Also, The iPods hard drive is not nearly as weak as your thinking. The iPod uses a large size drive(Its much larger then Microdrive’s that other brand hard-mp3-players use)and is Much stronger and shock resistant then a Micro-drive… The only reason I can think they would do this is because the Nano is smaller, Hawter and APPLE wants to conquer the Flash-Based-Mp3 market even more.

  18. Podophile says:

    “This “not good to run with a hard based player” is BS with the iPod..”

    Dan, my 5th gen iPod has locked up a couple of times while jogging with it. Not really a big deal, just needs a hard reset. But unless you want to stop running while the hard drive is spinning, it’s going to happen from time to time. I don’t disagree about Apple wanting to push their flash players, but I think they also don’t want to deal with thousands of complaints about iPods freezing and the public backlash that might result.

  19. Michael says:

    Great tip. I’m afraid the transmitter part that attaches to the Nano will make the Nano not fit in a lot of the cases/armbands out there, such as the Marware one I have. Of course I’m sure it will fit fine with the Nike+ case/armband …

  20. Michael says:

    From the prospective of a podiatrist, I can tell you that Nike’s shoes are crap. Go with New Balance, Brooks, or Saucony, and get fitted at a real shoe store.

  21. mark says:

    ipods suck and nikee is even worse!

    [Juvenile comments deleted by moderator. Please play nice.]

  22. Philoman says:

    mark, I do no know what your frustration is with iPods and Nike but to me you may have a bigger personal problem than the possible problematic social structure that may exist.

    I’m not sticking up for anyone, but a sad disturbed feeling I get by reading your post.

    Be gentle and you will be appreciated and thus may lead to a more happier life. Cheers.

  23. [...] This mod lets you use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with any brand of running shoe. It’s quick and easy…and it works! Doesn’t damage your shoes, either. Step-by-step guide and photos.read more | digg story [...]

  24. tristan says:

    nice hack!
    have to disagree about running with a regular iPod though, I have a 5G ipod which I have been running with, almost daily, for 6 months with no problems.
    It would be good if apple were to introduce the Nike kit to the normal iPods as I don’t really want to buy a nano just for running!
    but then I might have to….
    the best thing of course is that you have figured out how to make this work with non-Nike shoes. Any serious runner wouldn’t be using Nike shoes anyway.
    keep us all informed of the test results!

  25. [...] When Apple announced a new accessory for iPod Nano which could give details of your workout progress, it seemed cool. But there was one limitation, only Nike shoes supported it. Now here’s a very cheap mod which makes the kit to work with all shoes. The transmitter is placed under the laces. Check it out here. [...]

  26. Johnny Appleseed says:

    Sure, the HD iPods have a cache, but I suspect the Nike pedometer requires the iPod to be constantly recording data, which would mean the HD would be constantly spinning, increasing the likelihood of a problem.

  27. Andrew says:

    This is just an effort by Apple to sell even MORE of the popular nano. Everyone knows that the nano is just a ripoff (4GB and 1000 songs, $249 or 30GB, 7500 songs, video, $299). All you need to do for a 30GB is save up 50 more bucks than the nano. It’s that easy, and I’m sure that someday there will b a hack or something that will let the Nike thing work with any iPod with DC.

  28. neofactor says:

    Apple/Sony should sell these with a hole through the center to pass you laces. Or a MOD attacjment that allows this.

    I was wondering if it hurt to run with that pressing on your instep?!

    I was just going to take cut a hole in my shoe (from the inside) under the arch liner… to just tuck it in there.. but was worried about the changes to the arch or heal strike issues.


  29. Alan says:

    Dan – There is suppose to be an firmware upgrade for the ipod video so it will work as well.

  30. Scott says:

    My take on the jogging with HD iPod debate: it probably depends on your running style. I had a 3G iPod for almost two years, and an iPod Photo for over a year now, and neither has ever locked up on me while jogging. I’m annoyed I have to buy a Nano to use this, but Johnny Appleseed poses an interesting theory about why the Nano’s required.

  31. Dave says:

    I wonder why the Nike+iPod Sport Kit doesn’t work with the Ipod Shuffle too. It uses flash memory as well, so no moving parts to damage. Maybe its just to small?

  32. Podophile says:

    The Shuffle doesn’t have a dock connector. The Sport kit has 2 parts: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter goes on (or in) your shoe, and the receiver plugs into the dock connector of your iPod nano.

  33. Dan M. says:

    The shuffle isn’t supported because it’s too cheap. You can see everyone complaining how it doesn’t work with their “full-sized” iPods, but some are considering picking up a nano mostly for this purpose. If the half-as-expensive shuffle could be used instead, then Apple’s ploy of making this nano-exclusive to boost revenue wouldn’t be so successful.

    Either that or a lack of the dock connector…

  34. brian says:

    #30 – I cut a hole in the tongue of my shoe under the laces and tucked the transmitter in there and there was no discomfort at all. I did keep the laces right over the transmitter slightly looser than usual.

  35. Off Topic: Shoe Hacker: Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Mod…

    Apparently you don’t have to use Nike shoes with the new iPod Nano + Nike Shoes kit. Since it’s just……

  36. Uncle Foobar says:

    As an Apple stockholder i have to suggest:

    Please stop bitching about the Nano and just go buy one!

    You’re children,dog and wife will love you more if you do.


  37. Lifehacker says:

    DIY Nike+iPod shoe mod…

    The Podophile weblog describes how a little velcro can easily turn any running shoe into a Nike+iPod sport kit-capable shoe. When the Nike+iPod Sport Kit was announced, I was really excited about being able to track my running progress……

  38. video owner wanting a nano says:

    Tristan said “Any serious runner wouldn’t be using Nike shoes anyway.”

    Ahh…the great Nike/New Balance/Sacouny/addidas/Reebok/Asics flame war – second only in scorching power to the M$/Apple flame-fest. It’s kind of funny how these personal preferences become religon. I for one hated Nike because they were so narrow in the toe box I couldn’t wear them. At least until the Shox and the Triax came out – before that I always wore NB or Asics. Then again, I wasn’t a serious runner. My dad (marathoner) and brother (100+ mi/wk state champion XC) were and loved Nike’s b/c they had a narrow toe box. For all you non-runners reading this thread, beware – the flames that accompany shoe disscussions (esp Nike) are dangerous.

    I hope someone finds a way to set the 5g to do this or better yet a 5g Cateye/Shimano package or mod for cycling. Ditch the cylce computer for pleasant audio voice…..

  39. DrRocket says:

    Does anyone know if this sensor will work for things other than jogging? Will it still work on an elliptical machine or similar non-impact device?

  40. [...] The secret is velcro. Read more at Podophile (via Lifehacker). Now that sounds more elegant than my original plan of gouging out the inner recesses of my Nike Presto. [...]

  41. Jay Soffian says:

    I also used Velcro, in a slightly different fashion:


    I’ve run 21 miles with it so far and it isn’t going anywhere, at least not while my foot is in the shoe. You’re solution is probably more secure when the shoe is footless. :-)


  42. [...] I am tempted to get the Nike + iPod kit, particularly since it’s been proven that you aren’t obliged to use Nike shoes – I prefer Mizunas myself. However, the battery is not replaceable in the sensor, which brings to mind the early iPod battery debacles. All Apple says on their store page is The sensor’s battery is not replaceable. Battery life will vary considerably based on use and other factors. I think I will wait and see how many miles people are getting out of it first. Besides, I only really use my iPod when running on a treadmill; when I’m out at Frick Park or on the Butler Freeport Trail I much prefer running sans phones. Must resist gadget…must resist… [...]

  43. Afrosheen says:

    Running with HD-based iPods aren’t good and I could vouch the death of my 4th gen. iPod for this very reason as it died after I ran with it on the elliptical machine. Each time I tried to turn it on I heard a couple of clicks inside my iPod then it would shut off. Now, I did get a 60 gig Video iPod as a replacement, but I’m not gonna risk having to go through that again by running with it (and I used an iPod sleeve no less). I’m good to get the nano for this purpose ’cause it would stupid to spend money for a Nike+iPod kit and then have it kill another one of my iPods again.

    DrRocket also asked this but I’m also wondering whether this kit would work if I were to be running on the treadmill, ’cause already as a basketball referee I do a lot of impact running and it would be insanely stupid to put more impact on my knees just to track my running.

  44. Hermes says:

    links for 2006-07-17…

    A Siren Festival Survival Guide — New York Magazine Glad that most people followed rule 3–clear viewing for the Stars…

  45. yablog says:

    YEs ! nice idea to fix this podometer transmitter this way.. But, the nike shoes are also very nice but did they are well concepted for the runnin’ with the max comfort possible ?

  46. [...] Update 17 July 2006, 8:26am: Somebody beat us to the blogging punch — via Engadget, Podophile has a “shoe mod” to get the transmitter working with any shoe of your heart’s content. [...]

  47. [...] Das Nike+iPod Sportkit, das demnächst auch in Europa erhätlich sein wird, ist eine nettes Spielzeug, keine Frage. Doch gerade als ambitionierter Läufer möchte man nicht einfach seine gewohnten Laufschuhe wechseln, nur um in den Genuß des kilometerzählenden iPod zu kommen. Aber wie von uns bereits bei der Produkt-Ankündigung Ende Mai vermutet, braucht man nicht zwingend ein Paar der neuen Nike-Treter. Denn der Sensor ist kein Schrittzähler, sondern ein Beschleunigungsmesser. Daher funktioniert er mit jedem beliebigen Schuh, solange er nur ordentlich befestigt ist. Eine exemplarische Bastel-Anleitung für eine Klettverschluss-Lösung findet sich hier. Bleibt zu hoffen, dass Apple nicht noch eine Funktion zum Ãœberprüfen der Schuh-Marke integriert.    Tags: Hardware, iPod nano, Nike+iPod, Schuhe, Tipps Kommentar hinzufügen Zur Druckansicht Trackback-URL ha, 17.07.06   Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, iC…     [...]