Adidas' $400 smartwatch is stripped down for runners

By Aditi Pai

AdidasSmartwatchAdidas has announced its entry into the smartwatch market, but with a new angle -- a smartwatch meant specifically for runners.

"We're not trying to make a smartwatch, but probably the smartest running watch," head of Adidas Interactive Paul Gaudio told GigaOm Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher at the GigaOm Mobilize event in San Francisco, California.

The device will launch November 1st and will cost $399, $100 more than Samsung's recently launched Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Because the watch is geared toward runners, it intentionally lacks a lot of the features that regular smartwatches have, according to Gaudio.

"Runners have been telling us for years, 'I just want everything I need on my wrist and I don't want to deal with all these extraneous paraphernalia,' Gaudio said. "That's the problem statement -- how do you provide the personal realtime coaching service, how do you condense all of those sensors and all of those electronics into one place that is suitable for runners."

The watch will have GPS to track runs, heart rate tracking, and music storage which users can listen to via Bluetooth headphones. Adidas gives users custom training plans based on heart rate coaching which can be expressed through visual or physical (vibration) prompts, or through the headphones.

Design firm Fjord's ceo, Olaf Schybergson, collaborated with Adidas on the smartwatch. Unlike wearables in different locations, like Google Glass, Schyberson said Adidas' smartwatch "doesn't introduce social awkwardness," which was one of the reasons the team eventually chose to create a smartwatch.

"Integrating these experiences into your daily life, the things that you already do and have is the important answer here," Adidas' Gaudio said. "Yes the wrist is one place we already carry things and are more comfortable with. We are looking at integrating and have been integrating technology into apparel and footwear simply because it moves with your body. You already wear these things, you need these things, so our plan is to bring that function into the products that you already have and already need."

Adidas currently offers wireless fitness devices that offer coaching, the miCoach Pacer and miCoach Zone. As for potential competition, Gaudio believes, because of the specificity of Adidas' niche, their watch is different from the others on the market, which act as a second screen for a user's mobile device.

"We did not incorporate anything in here that we didn't think a runner needed or appreciated in their lives," Gaudio said. "There was an opportunity to include a lot more, obviously, the technology exists now, but we left certain things out on purpose. I think those are the most difficult questions or  most important questions to answer with a product like this is-- Not what you can do but what you should leave out."