Android and iOS app (with smartwatch compatibility)
Arion hands-on: Simply slip these in to make your running shoes smart
Not surprisingly, a lot of information can be garnered about your running from looking at your feet, and yet it’s wrist-based wearables that dominate the conversation when it comes to running tech. Sure, we’ve seen smart running shoes in the past – the Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini 2 Record are one such example – but these rely on you getting on with the particular shoe model.
Step into any specialist sports store and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of running shoes geared towards different running styles and gaits, so buying the right shoe can be tricky. In addition, the Under Armour smart running shoes, for example, are also rather basic in what they can actually track. They can handle distance, speed, cadence and stride length, and only while connected to your phone.
The new Arion running wearable overcomes the first issue and improves on the other. It’s a insole that you can use with your existing running shoes, and move across to a new pair when you have to replace your old shoes.
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The Arion doesn’t replace your shoe’s existing insole, however; it slips in beneath it and is thin enough that you shouldn’t notice it. This news will come as a relief for anyone who uses specialist insoles already.
A flat ribbon cable connects the Arion insole to an external training pod that clips onto the side of your running shoes. This contains a GPS sensor and multi-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, which means you don’t have to rely on a connected smartphone.
The training pod also connects to an external dock for charging, with a battery life of around 7 hours. LED lights on the side of the training pod help you to stay visible at night, and a selection of colours means you can match the lights to your running apparel. The training pod locks into its clip with a rotation, and once attached offers water-resistant so that you won’t have to worry about running in the rain or through puddles.
Between the insole and training pod’s eight sensors, the Arion is able to track the usual metrics but can also provide insight into your gait, foot strike, stability, contact time, pronation, vertical oscillation and balance. Such data is useful for a number of reasons, including injury prevention and improving running technique.
As you might expect, the Arion has a companion app available in addition to working with smartwatch apps. The app will provide real-time coaching feedback to your headphones, helping you to adjust your running style on the fly. Andrew Statham, co-founder of the Arion, told me this will intelligently adapt over time as you run. An online dashboard is also available for viewing all the information, as well as acting as a platform for coaches to develop training plans.
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Statham hasn’t ruled out direct integration and working in partnership with apparel makers in the future, nor possible application in sporting fields beyond running. I could certainly see how the sensors in the Arion could be used to improve a basketball player’s vertical leap, for example.
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Having not yet been able to take the Arion out for a test run, it’s hard to judge its performance. On paper, at least, it sounds like it’s capable of detecting every metric a runner might want. If it lives up to Arion’s claims then it could prove a must-have wearable for serious runners.
Its form factor could prove a huge attraction. Runners can be particular about their footwear, so being compatible with any shoe will be of huge benefit. The Arion is available for pre-order as a single unit for £75/€89 or a twin pack for £130/€149. If you opt for the basic Starter Pack, then you’ll need to swap the single insole between shoes to gather running metrics for both feet, which might make the Pro pack more tempting.
The Arion will ship in September, check back for a full review nearer the time.
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