Taking a drastically different approach from competitor Nike, Adidas has introduced a brand new wearable tracker, the miCoach Fit Smart. It promises to be a personal trainer worn on your wrist. While the terms “fitness tracker” and “activity tracker” are often used interchangeably when it comes to wearables, the Fit Smart solely focuses on fitness tracking. It is worn during the time of day for maximal physical fitness–your workout.
Along with a heart rate sensor (powered by Mio) and a color-changing light strip that provides instant feedback on workout intensity, the Fit Smart works with the MiCoach smartphone app to create training plans and activities tailored to your level of fitness.
Fitness Coaching from a wearable?
Based on the initial hands-on report, the most innovative function of the Fit Smart will be its “Coach Mode,” which guides the user through a coached workout. Using the color-changing light strip, tactile vibration, and auditory cues, the user is guided toward maintaining goal intensity levels throughout the workout. In addition to the Coach Mode, the Fit Smart can also be utilized as more of a pure heart rate monitor/pedometer for intensity-targeted workouts. For example, while running outside, if your heart rate drops out of a certain zone or if your pace drops below a certain threshold, the color strip would change color, providing an at-a-glance indicator of your lagging performance.
Who is the target market?
Well-established as a sporting company, Adidas clearly positions the MiCoach Fit Smart for their core market of athletes. However, Adidas GM of Digital Sports Paul Gaudio sees every person as a potential athlete: “We’re trying to put a fitness coach on everyone’s wrist… Our whole philosophy and approach is to help athletes get better.”
However, as a device intended solely for training and workout sessions, the $199 Fit Smart sacrifices some of the most appealing features found commonly on other activity trackers: sleep tracking, all-day step counting, and not having to always remember to put it on. Leaving out such basic features likely helps to prolong battery life, but also makes justifying its purchase more difficult for everyday, non-elite athletes. On the flip side, with an activity-capable heart rate sensor, the Fit Smart offers what very few competitors can provide (The Basis B1 Band only tracks heart rate during periods of inactivity).
Conclusion: Less is more?
“Laser focus” is one of the modern buzzwords when it comes to quality engineering, and with the Fit Smart, Adidas has gone all-in by focusing solely on improving your workouts and exercise routine. However, I can’t help but question if Adidas has gone too far. Amidst the surge in popularity of Fitbit devices and wearable sensors, the market for 24-7, continuous tracking has solidified, largely in part due to the “always-on” functionality that allows the user to set it and forget it, much like a watch.
My concern with the miCoach Fit Smart remains the same as other heart rate sensors that are focused solely on workout sessions. After an initial honeymoon period, many users will forget to bring their device with them to the gym, or even forget to put it on prior to a workout.
If the Adidas Fit Smart can prove its value right off the bat and win over customers with long-term sustainable benefit, a profitable market of fitness fanatics await. Conversely, if the device falls short of that goal, there’s little else to justify buying one. The Fit Smart will go on sale for $199 in August 2014.