A recently published Nike patent application has revealed several possible new functions and potential hardware expansions of the current Nike + iPod Sport Kit system. The application, number 20080096726, is titled “Athletic Performance Sensing and/or Tracking Systems and Methods,” and describes an athletic performance control system with an interface that allows selection of desired workout intensity, as well as a way to offer a revised or modified workout routine based on the user’s selections. An iPod or iPhone could potentially serve as the control system, as the iPod is specifically mentioned in several points in the application as a possible control device. Nike has also previously stated that it plans to expand Nike+ to include the iPhone and iPod touch.
Components in the new system could include sensors to monitor a markedly increased number of physical or physiological characteristics during the workout, including speed, distance, and time information, which could be then compared against the media content playing during the workout or routine. For instance, the system would be able to know if a user sped up or slowed down in response to a certain song being played, and could offer the user a choice of adding or removing the song from the workout routine playlist. The patent goes on to describe many sensors differing from the current Nike + iPod Sport Kit, with the potential for the collection of data for pulse rate, body temperature, blood pressure, hydration levels, ambient temperature, heart rate, EKG data, humidity, barometric pressure, sole compression, air intake and volume, air expel rate and volume, EEG data, blood gas content, and more.
While the current Nike + iPod system is only meant for monitoring performance metrics while running or jogging, the system described in the patent could potentially be used for other athletic activities, such as using training machines such as stair climbers and elliptical machines, team-based and individual sports, yoga, martial arts, and more. The patent also describes a rewards system for the achievement of fitness or athletic goals, one of the many ways it parallels previous Apple patent filings, which described a digital fitness program for iTunes and touchscreen digital media devices. As with all patent filings, however, this one does not necessarily represent any future product release, and may describe features broader than actual products solely to protect them against competitors. [via MacNN]