Under Armour's Armour39 measures effort

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
3:00
PM ET
Armour39Under Armour Under Armour's new Armour39 is a digital performance monitoring system.
It was 10 years ago when Under Armour burst on the scene with its classic campaign asking athletes to “Protect This House.” I, for one, was inspired to finally purchase renter’s insurance.

The response to that commercial still remains “I Will,” and today a new generation of athletes, including Bryce Harper and Kemba Walker, are answering the call and helping usher in Under Armour’s latest lineup of innovations, such as the Armour39. This device, among other gadgets, was showcased at a news conference Tuesday, and Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and MMA fighter Gina Carano were present for the big reveal.

Launching next month, the Armour39 system aims to help athletes train better. The digital performance monitoring system does that by measuring “Willpower” -- that is, the effort put forth during a workout. When a workout is completed, it’s given a score (zero to 10) derived from an algorithm that takes into account workout duration, body position, heart rate, the athlete’s individual profile, intensity and calories burned. Armour39 consists of a module that straps to your chest and transmits data to an app on your phone (retail: $149.99). You also have the option of purchasing a watch ($199.99) to showcase the data.

The tracking system joins pretty stiff competition, considering the onslaught of tracking devices such as the Nike FuelBand, Jawbone UP, Fitbit and adidas SPEED_CELL.

If the device itself sounds familiar, that’s because it resembles the Under Armour E39. Released in 2011, the E39 consisted of a round sensor situated within an electric compression shirt and measured heart rate, g-force and breathing. It transmitted that info to a smartphone or tablet, and a coach could begin to ascertain any weaknesses or off-kilter movements in the athlete. This got the most attention when it was used by various athletes at the 2011 NFL scouting combine.

The thing that was missing from the E39 that is present in the Armour39 revolves around the Willpower measurement aspect. Supported by our statistics-obsessed culture, the latest incarnation will rely on monthly assessments to actually identify when an athlete is slacking and when he or she is living up to his or her potential. The overall goal is the same as other data-tracking devices: More empirical insight will drive someone to work harder and improve faster.

Now that football season is over, who plans on going to the gym on Sunday? I Will. Just as soon as I finish preparing for my fantasy baseball draft.
Katie Linendoll is an Emmy Award-winning technology expert contributing to ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She contributes tech segments to CNN and hosts a tech show on Spike TV. She has a degree in Information Technology New Media from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a diehard Buffalo Bills fan.

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