Plenty of smartwatches and fitness trackers give you scope to check in on basic running stats, but startup Ato Gear wants to take this data to the next level with Arion.
Working in real-time to give you feedback on your running technique, the smart footpod and insoles setup will provide a platform to potentially reduce injury risk and improve your economy — that is, getting more out of your run for the same amount of effort. But how does it hope to achieve this?
Read this: Best wearables for real-time coaching
Well, by placing the two Arion insoles underneath your regular shoes and syncing up the Bluetooth pod, you're able to keep tabs on a range of running metrics. That means those looking to understand the advanced details, such as strike index, impact, power, flight time, contact time, stride length, pronation and balance are all catered for.
And after completing an initial baseline run, which begins building a picture of your biomechanical footprint, you're able to start training towards improvement in each one of these specific areas through the help of the companion app, which is available through your smartwatch, as well as your phone and computer. But with GPS on board for the Arion ride, you also have the option to leave your device at home.
While you're given indications on how to manage your feet through your headphones, looking back after your run is also a key part of the process. All your activity will be beamed up to the cloud, with the device also able to sync up with various third-party apps and work alongside other wearables.
"You can use any device you like with it," Ato Gear CEO Andrew Statham told Wareable. "Many people already have their watches. We currently have compatibility with a number of different smartwatches, and these are also becoming a lot more open. So pulling in your heart rate data via Bluetooth is possible.
"We're not out there to replace other wearables, but we add an extra dimension — the biomechanical part, the technique part, the how. There's a lot of devices out there measuring the what — so your distance and your speed but not telling you how to act upon it."
Once you've completed a run, you're also able to input any injuries you experienced and detail their severity and nature — whether this was a gradual feeling sustained over the run or something more sudden. This helps build an injury report, which then feeds into the device's AI to help create more personalised feedback over time.
However, there's no hiding from the fact that this is all sits on the advanced end of the runner spectrum. Statham, though, insisted that Arion is able to appeal to non-hardcore runners concerned about potential injuries, too.
"The idea is that this should be a tool that's very accessible for high end athletes, but if you don't know what you're doing or you just want a general picture, you can just hit start and focus on hitting the green zone. So it can also be a tool for more recreational runners."
In terms of additional features, the device is waterproof, allowing you take it through puddles or in the rain, and also holds a battery life of up to seven hours. This, as you might imagine, will reduce slightly, though, if you keep the customisable LEDs on for safety in the dark or just plain jazzing up your activity.
As for the product itself, it's currently in beta testing after a decade of research, and is available to pre-order in two models ahead of an expected release later this year.
The Starter pack is currently available for $89, for which you'll pick up one training pod and two insoles. This only gives you the option to track one foot during a run, though you can pick up the Pro kit, which features two modules and costs $149, if you'd prefer to track your feet simultaneously.
One final thing to note: while Arion has managed to carve out somewhat of a niche by focusing on area specific training and injury prevention, it's not the only device out there that can help you improve your running.
Shft IQ, Stryd and Runscribe are all operating in this space, each providing something slightly different to help you take the next step in your training — it's almost as if footpods are making a comeback.
How we test