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Under Armour's Performance Monitor Tracks What Actually Matters

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Look, I know what you're thinking and I've been thinking the same thing, too. But Under Armour is going for something a bit different with the Armour39 performance monitor they've been teasing. What differentiates it from the crowded field of wearables is that it's a "performance" monitor, not an "activity monitor" like Nike's FuelBand, the Fitbit or even the Basis Band. It doesn't care what you do at work or on your walk to the mailbox. Armour39 wants to show you how intense you are about your workouts and nothing else.

The core piece of technology in the 39 ecosystem is the chest strap, which measures your heart rate and then calculates caloric burn and level of intensity during a work out session. An app and watch are also apart of the Armour39 ecosystem. They likely crunch the numbers that the chest strap is collecting. The chest strap is a must and will work with either of the above, but you don't need all three.

One of the unique things to A39 is an actual on-boarding process that measures your maximum heart rate, recovery rate and ventricular ventilatory threshold before Under Armour starts crunching the numbers. All this is done when you're setting up the chest strap with the app. You can opt out of the assessment and you'll be defaulted to a profile based on your age and sex. It also rests and measures from your core: Your Heart. So it's not trying to do some of the extraneous bullshit you see in activity monitors that are worn on the wrist. This, for example.


Like Nike's Fuel, Under Armour has a proprietary score that it measures called WILLpower. But that's really where the comparison stops. WILLpower ranges from 0.0 to 10.0 and is based on an algorithm that combines certain heart rate measurements, your user profile (sex, age, weight, etc.), body positioning and workout duration. You then pick a number and work towards it and can keep track in real-time with the accompanying iOS app. On the app itself, you'll see average heart rate, average intensity, duration and calories burned, in addition to your current WILLpower score. Two additional screens go a bit deeper into your heart rate and intensity for post-workout analysis. Or you can send it to your trainer/coach.


Any and all data is then transmitted from the chest strap via Bluetooth (4.0) either the watch or app and then synced to the cloud. An Android app is being worked on, says Mark Oleson, Director of Innovation and Research at Under Armour. Believe me, he was adamant that they're not looking to ostracize anyone for their choice in smartphone platform and to be "device agnostic." But he wouldn't give a timeline.


Oleson says this is just the baseline of what's to come. A foundation, if you will. The company also teased other wearable technical clothing that could one day allow you to change the temperature of the clothing with the swipe of a virtual keypad on your sleeve. Watch:

The Armour39 kit will be up for pre-order this Saturday with a March launch. The Armour39 module and strap goes for $150, while the Armour39 watch will retail for $200. [Under Armour]