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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. Sally says:

    Why couldn’t you put the chip in a money pouch on your shoe? Would the movement mess up the transmission?

  2. Adam Pratt says:

    I did two runs this weekend with the Nike kit and non-Nike shoes. I secured the sensor with packing tape to my laces. A few observations:

    1. It’s difficult to control the buttons on the Nano in an arm band on a sunny day while I’m running, etc. It works, but it’s a bit awkward.

    2. It only works with the Nano. Maybe Apple will change that in the future, but that’s how it is now.

    3. Be careful about putting the sensor UNDER your shoelaces. Depending on your shoe, foot mechanics, and so on you might end up with some nasty pain on the top of your foot.

    4. I run a lot (18 miles yesterday) and I don’t think I’ll trust a $30 sensor to a little piece of velcro. Lots of jarring, lots of dust, dirt, sweat, etc. and one unexpected slip and this thing is gonna be lost in the woods, under a truck tire, or something. I’m not trying to dis the idea, but I don’t think it’s gonna work for most folks.

    I need to find a way to SECURELY attach the sensor to the TOP of my laces.

  3. DJG says:

    Nathan makes a small pocket that secures to the top of your shoe with a reflective velcro strap. It’s very secure and based on what I’ve read here should work perfectly.

  4. Cheesehead Dave says:

    It’s probably a matter of time before someone markets a small pouch the size of the transmitter with slots to thread your laces through to eliminate the chances of it coming off.

  5. Sally says:

    Dave…see post #51

  6. Evil Inside says:

    I can see KangaROOS making a strong comeback thanks to apple.

  7. Doug says:

    In the 80s I had a “shoe pocket” that was just that…a small pocket that had a strap under the laces, you could put in your house key, money, etc…the transmitter would fit just fine…I no longer have this, if I did , I would consider making them as an addon…

  8. Les avocado says:

    Otherwise another idea would be to stitch the pouch to the tongue of the shoe. or if you’re brave, unstitch the tongue inert device and sew tongue back up. put shoe on find comfortable area for device to be laced around mark with pen. add additional stitches above and below to keep device in place.

  9. Les avocado says:

    otherwise you could also use it with an ankle bracelet akin to the shuffle strap and velcro around ankle.

  10. Ok, this is just cool…

  11. [...] Since posting the Podophile Shoe Mod for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit the other day, I’ve come to realize just how much interest there is out there in this new iPod nano add-on. Many comments indicate that people who have never run before are inspired to give it a try. If you’re thinking about ‘running your way to fitness,’ here’s my list of essential tips to help you get off on the right foot. [...]

  12. bill parker says:

    I don’t recall the option of NOT getting the Nike Shoes. It’s all in one package, you have to buy the
    shoes to get the device. I appreciate your post, and I like my running shoes as well. But we all paid for the
    shoes, we might as well use em…But hey, aren’t they the ugliest nike shoes you ever saw?

  13. STU says:

    thanks for the great write up.

  14. Podophile says:

    “I don’t recall the option of NOT getting the Nike Shoes. It’s all in one package, you have to buy the shoes to get the device.”

    You can buy the kit seperately for $29.00. Check Apple.com or Amazon.

  15. Podophile says:

    Adam wrote:
    “I run a lot (18 miles yesterday) and I don’t think I’ll trust a $30 sensor to a little piece of velcro. Lots of jarring, lots of dust, dirt, sweat, etc. and one unexpected slip and this thing is gonna be lost in the woods, under a truck tire, or something. I’m not trying to dis the idea, but I don’t think it’s gonna work for most folks.”

    Adam – Velcro is surprisingly strong. If you’re worried about dirt and moisture, put the transmitter in a little bag (See my “Waterproofing” post). And if the transmitter ever does fall out of your shoe, after two minutes the iPod voice will say “Activity has stopped…” Just turn around and run back for two minutes.

    I don’t expect that this will be perfect for everyone… I’m just glad that some people are finding it useful. As for me, I didn’t want to spend $10+ for a pouch to protect a $29 device, and I didn’t want to cut or ‘Dremel’ (gasp) my shoe. So far, I’m happy with the results.

    Thanks for visiting.

  16. [...] The Cheaper Version  I’ve wanted the nike shoes to go with my nano so I could track my runs, but I faced the dilema of giving up my shoes. I love my shoes. They keep my legs from hurting. That being said, this hack looks like it would work pretty well without the shoes…. you have to love creative solutions [...]

  17. Candace says:

    hey… thanks for the hack – this is so perfect. I run a lot and when I first heard this was coming out i was stoked, however, I didn’t want to be
    ‘forced’to purchase Nike shoes. I will look into the shoe money holder along with the velcro option. BTW, for those that couldn’t find the shoes
    and/or kit – I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods today and they have a huge display there. please keep us update on your progresses… this is such a good
    idea by Apple & Nike. One more thing – I love the Nike Armband holder – it’s a lot than the other sport bands out there.

  18. Phil says:

    I would check out PUMA shoes…because they are good for soccer (Italia) but on running to. Their website also propose training exercise formatMP3

  19. Forever Geek says:

    The Nike+iPod Sport Kit (and Some DIY)…

    Here’s a little something for you gym-rats and workout-a-holics out there. Remember when going to the gym was such a drag because of the tacky music? Well, I do. And that’s because the last time I went to the gym,……

  20. Tech Gadgets says:

    Nike+iPod works with any shoe: The 99-cent DIY shoe mod…

    Filed under: Peripherals, Portable Audio, WearablesOkay, so it should have been pretty obvious that not…

  21. jthomas says:

    just got the nike+ipod today. i have the 2006 airmax 360 and all i did was just slide it into the side of the shoe. i dont feel anything. works fine and stays in place. did the calibration earlier and went for a 2 mile run. very accurate i must say.

  22. Ian says:

    I just thought since this velco idea seems to work would it not also be very easy just to sew a little pouch on one of the tongues in much the same manner?

  23. [...] Initial feelings about the kit are extremely positive: The sensor is, indeed, tiny, and the whole thing does, indeed, “Just Works It” ™ as soon as you plug it in. There is empirical data (Courtesy of my ranting and geek blog and an old and fine friend) that the simplest solution, velcroing the sensor to another pair of sneaks, works like a champ. I haven’t tried that yet, but figure I will in the near future. [...]

  24. [...] For those of you like me who may want to try the device, but do not want to spend the money on the $100.00+shoes, you have an alternative. The transmitter can be put on any pair of shoes, and even protected from water, or mud with a little smart thinking. The guy who runs Podophile came up with a simple mod to keep his transmitter attached to the outside of his shoe. He then went back later and made a waterproof mod, to keep your new transmitter clean and free of water. Now for more information check out the Apple Store, and for an indepth review visit iLounge. [...]

  25. Ben says:

    How accuratly does this record your run?

  26. Podophile says:

    Hi Ben -

    My test results were posted here

  27. microChasm says:

    Has anyone tried the transmitter with a pair of those socks with the zippered pouch on them to stash a key or ID?

    I would think its kept fairly dry and protected. I don’t know what kind of geometry it needs as far as recording movement.

  28. [...] Podophile » Blog Archive » Shoe Hacker: Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Mod (tags: iPod apple fitness hacks howto) [...]

  29. Great little article! I just got my wife one of these for her birthday, & will definitely be trying your mod out.
    I put together a music-mix podcast for runners called Podrunner you might want to check out; it should be a great match for
    your Nike sport kit. Its one-hour, fixed-bpm mixes (there are currently 20 at different bpms) with no breaks. It’s on
    iTunes or my website at http://www.djsteveboy.com. Take care!

  30. [...] Thankfully, despite the heat, I still have the motivation to go along to the class tonight and I’m hoping to get to Achilles Heel soon to get my gait assessed so I can buy a proper pair of shoes. The classes run for the next 9 weeks, and I’ll see how I’m doing after that. If things are going well I might even shell out for the new Nike+ system (it’s only £19 as you don’t NEED to buy the trainers and I already have an iPod Nano). I mean I can’t start a new hobby and NOT buy a gadget to go with it… er… aside from my new watch of course (which I got for around £20 on eBay, yay!). [...]

  31. [...] En Podophile han publicado un ingenioso método para utilizar el producto Nike+iPod pero utilizando otras zapatillas. Así que si no quieres estar “atado” a la marca americana, y quieres, por ejemplo, calzar unas Puma o Adidas, y utilizar el iPod para controlar tus ejercicios, aquí tienes un tutorial paso-a-paso con fotos y todo. Lo cierto es que todo se limita a un trocito de velcro y un poco de paciencia. @ Life Clever [...]

  32. [...] Since Nike sells sensors and shoes separately, I have always wondered whether I need to buy those $100 shoes or not (those shoes have special hole in which you could put the sensors in). According to this post on podophile’s blog, you can attach the sensor onto any shoes with velcro, and it would work too. [...]

  33. [...] Podophile » Shoe Hacker: Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Mod Using Velcro, you can use the Nike+iPod Sports Kit with any shoe. Keywords: hacks, health, ipod [...]

  34. [...] The hack itself is pretty simple actually. In short, you only have to attach the transmitter from the Nike+iPod Sport Kit to any shoes you want. A strip of velcro with addesive backing and a needle are the only tools you need. It’d take around 7 – 1 minutes of work and it won’t cause any permanent damage to the shoe. Check the link below for the detail instruction. [ More ] [ Via ] [...]

  35. Patrick says:

    Today I went for a run with the transmitter in the same location as podophile’s and without velcro and it worked fine didn’t even move.

  36. [...] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Leave aReply [...]

  37. Eve says:

    WARNING: be careful out there and make sure your sensor is securely fastened to your shoe. i was so excited to take my sensor on my first run that i did not do a very good job attaching it. it seemed secure and stayed put for about 20 minutes, and then halfway through my run it got lost in the woods :-( i was very disappointed and thought this was the coolest running gadget ever until i lost it. if anyone has this sports kit and has decided they don’t want it anymore let me know and maybe i can buy just the sensor off you. i’m reluctant to buy a whole new kit again…

  38. Podophile says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss, Eve.

    Everybody, please make sure your transmitter is tightly secured with VELCRO, and take a test run to make sure it stays on. I’ve been reading reports of people trying to run with it just tucked under their laces… not a good idea. I’ve used mine as I described in the article above for almost 40 miles over 10 days and it hasn’t moved.

    Also remember, if you lose your transmitter, after 2 minutes you’ll get a warning that activity has stopped. Just turn around and run back 2 minutes and start looking… you should be close to where your transmitter is.

  39. [...] As of today, more than 60,000 people have visited the Podophile site to read about my method of using the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with any running shoe. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m especially thrilled that so many people have been inspired to take up running for the first (or second) time. I’ve received numerous comments and emails from readers who have used the shoe mod and are happy with the results. But I’ve also been reading comments on this and other sites from people who are disappointed that their transmitter is falling off their shoe. With that in mind, it’s time to take another look at the shoe mod with an eye toward making sure you don’t experience unintended results. [...]

  40. [...] The Nike + iPod Sport Kit—love child of Apple and Nike—began shipping this week. I’m excited to try out the new toy at the gym, but I prefer not to be a Nike style victim. Podophile has posted a nice little hack to get a Nike + iPod Sport Kit working with the shoe of your choice. All you need to do is attach a strip of velcro to the shoe’s tongue and the back of the transmitter. [...]

  41. [...] As I do workout and running is my main choice for exercise, i own a pair of Nike jet Streams which are about a year old and in great condition. I really don’t need a new pair of Nike’s but thought I would have to buy a pair of Nike+ ones for the kit to work properly. Then came along a post I seen on digg about attaching the sensor any shoe under the laces. While this was brilliant and seemed to work well in all accuracy test, the application was a little “ghetto” to me. This is when i got the bright idea to mod my own Nike’s to have a pocket under the sole and put the receiver in the shoe like the Nike+ shoes do. This way it doesn’t look like my shoes came from goodwill and the receiver will be protected from being lost, getting damaged or hit with water when running in the rain or through puddles. [...]

  42. Ulf Hednar says:

    Has anybody attached the xmit to a bicycle wheel and substited the distance of one turn of the wheel for a stride?

    That would work? right?

  43. Joe says:

    Here is my attempt hope it helps.

    http://homepage.mac.com/nustar1/PhotoAlbum3.html

    Nike + iPod – Nike

    Installing the Nike + iPod Sensor in a Case Logic JDSL2 USB Drive Shuttle for use with non-Nike shoes

    Purchased at Target for $9.99

  44. [...] When the Nike+iPod Sport Kit was announced, my initial idea was to buy a shoe wallet, made for hoding keys and I.D. while you run, and attach it to my laces with the transmitter inside. I pre-ordered my Sport Kit a month before before they were due to ship, but on the day it arrived I still hadn’t managed to get off my butt and find a shoe wallet. Luckily, when I saw how small the transmitter actually was, I realized that I could easily attach it to my shoe under the laces, and my velcro shoe mod was born. Despite how simple and thrifty the mod is, I still receive comments and email from people who are wondering if the transmitter works with a shoe wallet. In service to those people, I layed down my hard-earned cash to find out. [...]

  45. kangarool says:

    Can anyone post a quick “layman’s terms” explanation of how a sensor like this works? I am wondering if understanding that might suggest how/where I can stash the sensor in other, non-Nike shoes. For example, in my Fila Flow Reckoning running shoes, the bottom in-sole (right terminology? the bit that my heel actually touches) thing isn’t permanently attached to the shoes … it can be lifted/removed, so I wonder if merely slipping the sensor under that would work (but then don’t know how thick the sensor is, would it be like running with a small pebble underfoot?). What does the sensor actually “sense”? Thanks for any info …

  46. Podophile says:

    Kanga – The transmitter is nearly one quarter of an inch thick (6mm), and one and one quarter inches long (3cm). So it would be like running with a large pebble in your shoe.

    The transmitter is an accelerometer. As you might guess, it measures the acceleration of your foot, which can be used to calculate the length of your stride and your speed. As for how the circuitry actually works, I have no idea. There’s a Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerometer which may shed some light.

    I haven’t tested to see if the accelerometer works when not positioned horizontally (like maybe tucked in my sock)… I might give that a try tomorrow.

  47. hunntnplay says:

    cool site, and cool advice. I really like this idea, but i still feel that keeping it under the lace is kinda irritating. I tried just keeping it under the lace, and it fell when i was running/walking 3 to 4 times, luckily, i saw it everytime, and found it. but the tip that Joe gave here wtih the ipod shuffle case is awesome, seems like a good idea, and is very much secure just like the shoe wallet. so, will try out, first need to find out if they have it in target.

  48. Podophile says:

    Hunntnplay – Thanks for the comments. But seriously, the idea here is NOT to just stick the transmitter under your laces. Of course it will fall out. The method I describe is to attach VELCRO to your shoe and to the transmitter. There are actually pictures of how to do that in my original article. It is completely secure and hasn’t fallen off in over two weeks of use.

    The whole point of my shoe mod was to find a way to use the Sport Kit without having to spend any money on additional stuff to get it to work. If you’d rather buy an extra case, or a shoe wallet, or the $100 Nike+ shoes I’m sure it will work just fine… but it won’t work any better than the method I’ve described above.

  49. hunntnplay says:

    true, i agree your method works great. i was just saying that in my case,the laces are not as close together as your shoe,like the shoe laces keep them in tight, but for people whose laces are slightly spread apart, even if the sensor has a velcro, and another velcro is attached to the tongue of the shoe, if the sensor comes out of the covering laces, there are high chances of it falling out, velcros are not that strong. But in ur case, ur shoe has a good lace system.

  50. chris says:

    Does this thing work with an iPod mini as well?