At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, New Balance has confirmed a new division ‘dedicated exclusively to connecting consumers with the technology they desire to improve their athletic performance.’
New Balance Digital Sport will focus on understanding, motivating and improving the lives of athletes through digital experiences and wearable technologies. The first consumer product to launch from the new division will be a smartwatch, expected to begin retailing in the 2016 holiday season.
“New Balance has a 110-year heritage of product development and innovation in the running category, and, our new Digital Sport division represents our newest commitment to invest in athletes and runners around the world in their pursuit of extraordinary physical feats,” said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO of New Balance.
“Digital technology has truly revolutionized, very quickly, this industry and New Balance wants to continue to be a brand on the forefront, arming our athletes with the cutting-edge products that will help them reach peak performance.”
New Balance Digital Sport will develop ‘a comprehensive athlete-focused digital ecosystem featuring innovative New Balance-branded wearable technology products designed to improve physical performance.’
The company will partner with leading digital, hardware and software companies, including Intel, Google, Strava and Zepp, to incorporate smart technologies, optimized for wearable consumer products, into footwear and apparel lines across a variety of sports.
Digital Sport will initially focus on three product categories: devices, including the smart-watch; embedded technology, such as intelligent sensors integrated into New Balance footwear and apparel; and performance sport, including a sports equipment micro-fob that senses, analyzes and provides feedback on the athlete’s performance.
The division’s inaugural product will be a smartwatch that will enable athletes to work out while untethered from their smart phones. Specifically designed for runners by runners, the watch will track runners’ routes via GPS and also enable them to run with music, all without carrying their smartphones. Google and Intel will be providing the athlete focused smartwatch platform powered by Android Wear.
“Technology has tremendous power to make the amazing possible, and nowhere is that more apparent than in sports and fitness,” said Brian Krzanich, CEO at Intel Corporation. “As an avid runner, I look forward to seeing how our collaboration with New Balance and their deep intelligence about the running experience can unlock the performance potential for runners everywhere.”
Following the smartwatch launch later in 2016, New Balance will market other devices throughout 2017 and 2018. To complement the wearable consumer products it is developing, New Balance Digital Sport will also create digital experiences, the first of which will be New Balance Run Club.
This digital and physical community of runners will be powered by Strava and will utilize its platform to bring more New Balance runners together, online and offline. Run Club runners will use Strava to connect with each other, track performance, share their favourite routes and celebrate accomplishments.
Run Club athletes will also participate in group and individual virtual training programs for key races and running events, as well as virtual races between individuals and clubs. Additionally, physical Run Club activity will be centred in New Balance stores and includes local runs, group training, alternative training and classes.
The first Run Club will launch in Boulder, Colorado, in early 2016; others will launch in key running markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia in 2016.