Under Armour is looking to make a major play in the fitness tracking game with its new Armour39 fitness monitoring system. Revealed at a press event in New York yesterday, Armour39 – which is named after the style number found within Under Armour’s first undershirt – will seek to set itself apart from competitors like the Nike FuelBand, Fitbit One, and Jawbone Up by being more of a “performance monitor” designed for intense training instead of a standard tracker meant for anyone to use.
Coming this March, the Armour39 is actually a set of devices: a $149 strap and monitor that goes around the user’s chest and senses activity during workouts, an iOS (and soon-to-be Android) smartphone app that displays fitness tracking data like heart rate and calories burned, and an optional $199 watch that basically does what the app does in a more workout-friendly form factor.
The strap and monitor are the cores of the system, however, and the module itself comes with an accelerometer, Bluetooth 4.0 and its own processor. This isn’t something as easily wearable as the Nike FuelBand, to be sure, but making something like that doesn’t appear to be Under Armour’s intention anyway.
The Armour39 tracks much of the same data as its rivals, but seems to take its analysis a step further by tracking things like heart rate, recovery rate, and overall workout intensity. Its central analysis tool is something Under Armour calls “WILLpower,” which assigns users a personalized score from 0.0 to 10.0 based on an algorithm that measures their heart rate data, workout length and intensity, body positioning, sex, weight, age and various other factors.
Basically, WILLpower is a measurement of just how much effort users are giving during their workouts. The accompanying app tracks all of this data in real time, and even provides post-workout analysis that can be reviewed and potentially sent to a user’s workout coach or trainer.
Under Armour is certainly entering into a crowded and deeply competitive wearables market – one that could get much more hectic if/when Apple gets involved – but by distinctly focusing on the most dedicated athletes and health nuts, it may have the potential to become the fitness tracker of choice for many. Under Armour noted that the Armour39 is in part a foundation for other fitness-centric clothing to come, and that the Armour39 itself will be upgraded through various software updates.