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Danish blogger, climber, and Mac enthusiast Jonas Rabbe has posted a thorough review of his new Nike+iPod Sport Kit. While Nike+iPod reviews are a dime-a-dozen these days, Jonas includes an insightful look at how the Sport Kit experience could be improved, which makes the review well worth reading.

Foremost among Jonas’ ideas is for Nike to redesign the Nike+ website in standard XHTML with Javascript and Flash components, rather than the all-Flash affair it is today. He suggests that the social aspects of the site could be greatly improved if our stats and personal pages were easy to share our friends, in much the same way we share our photos on Flickr:

Individual pages would only be the beginning. Currently you can name your run, but if you use Nike+ as your training diary you will quickly run out of space. Again taking a page from Flickr, they should have a description field that you could use for route information, maybe you could even have training specific fields, for example rating for how the workout felt or the quality of the run. With a description field you could obviously make up your own notation, but that doesn’t mean Nike should stop thinking about what they could add. Nike already has training programs and diaries on the web, interfacing them with Nike+, or allowing you to make your own, would improve the experience immensely, especially for new runners.

Jonas’ review also pointed me to an August 2006 post by Panic Software founder Cabel Sasser on his experience with the Nike+iPod Kit. I’m not sure how I missed this when it was first posted, especially since I’m such a big fan of Panic’s Transmit FTP app, but I’m glad to have found it. Cabel emphasizes the competitive angle of the Nike+iPod experience:

I can think of a million ideas that would add more video-game-like awesomeness to Nike+ and, yes, by extension, exercise in general. What if the iPod sensor, which works over a proprietary 802.11 protocol — could also detect other shoe sensors in the vicinity? I’d really enjoy running along the Eastbank Esplanade, passing a runner, and, assuming they had the (optional) preference turned on, immediately hear their best time mile announced over my headphones and have them added as a “rival” that I could then track via the website. Of course, adding additional technology to the iPod part — like a GPS receiver, dare I dream — could create even more amazing, city-wide games of running tag with my friends. Now that’s a multiplayer game I’d love to play every weekend.

I haven’t really spent much time considering ideas like these, because for me, running time has always been personal time. I’m not motivated by community or competition, but by personal achievement and discipline. And the Nike+iPod Sport Kit hasn’t really changed that. However, maybe that says more about the Nike+ system’s shortcomings, than about my anti-social tendencies. After all, before Flickr, taking photos was never about sharing them with strangers; before bloging, writing a journal was never about publishing it and encouraging feedback. Now I do those things every day.

I hope Nike’s listening to these kinds of suggestions, because I know I’m not the only one who just might buy into the idea of joining a Nike+iPod running community, given a compelling enough reason and easy way to do so. Right now, I’m not even close. Maybe we’ll get Nike+ 2.0 in May when the new Nike+ watches are released. For the time being, I may see what the Nike+iPod group on Flickr is all about.

I’d be interested to hear about other good Nike+iPod communities. Post ‘em if you got ‘em.

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4 Responses to “Nike+iPod And Community: Two Views”

  1. RedSavina says:

    I’m new to this Nike+ stuff (bought one for my wife, and will get my own in a couple of weeks).

    Already I’ve been thinking about the opportunities to improve upon the current system. Given the popularity of the product, I would be surprised if Nike didn’t pursue some of these possibilities:

    * Heart Rate Monitor
    * wheel sensor
    * altitude sensor
    * gps sensor

    The HRM is a frequently wished-for item. Some sort of wheel sensor would open the door for all types of cycling – especially with altitude/gps capability. Think Lance Armstrong. Anyone who is a cycling fan would probably enjoy being able to track their rides with the kind of data we are used to seeing during the broadcasts of the Tour de France.

    While the wheel sensor would probably be limited to cycling enthusiasts, an altitude sensor would likely be useful for other sports (climbing, hiking, etc). Assuming that the altitude would be obtained via gps data, then paddle sports and many others could benefit (with some waterproofing!).

    I’ve done some backpacking and would enjoy being able to track my hikes – day or otherwise – and generate a plot in my topo software.

    We could go on and on with ideas that would open up other sports to the novelty AND utility of capturing data from our athletic activities. The question is, will Nike?


  2. Mark says:

    The Nike+ site really is terrible in regards to the whole community aspect and challenges. It’s like they just threw everyone into one room and told them to work it out.

    Side niche communities like the one we have just finished testing and have now launched are becoming the way to go. New challenges are created weekly with input from the community. Members just need to submit what challenges they would like to enter and wait for their invitations. You can also share your Nike+ stats in your signature at the forum easily.

    Anyone that likes the Nike+ challenges but is overwhelmed by their forums can check out our little community.

    Learn More Here

    Keep Running!

  3. Amy says:

    Hi, I agree that the Nike+ website leaves a lot to be desired. There’s not much in the way of tech support (yes, I know that comes from Apple), but it’d be good to at least have a link.

    I’m new to Nike+iPod but this is my 4th iPod & I’m an avid (ok, obsessed, some would say) runner. This site has been a HUGE help. For example, my Nike+iPod has been inaccurate lately and I had no idea it was because the sensor was bouncing around. Very helpful info — will check back often! :) Thanks!

  4. Jimmedy says:

    If you go over to http://www.nike.com/nikerunning then to training/training log you can track all your runs, distance, time, how you felt, what route you took, what shoes you wore… a whole lot of things, it syncs your runs from nike+ (you use the same login) which all comes up on a nice calendar thing. It also tracks any other exercise routines such as cycling, weights, etc.
    And it also generates a whole lot of meaningful graphs full of probably useful info.

    Basically all the stuff he was wanting except the sharing.