Under Armour predict the future of sportswear in 3D printing and IoT

Sports apparel and accessories company Under Armour (NYSE:UAA), headquartered in Maryland, are looking to use big data to create bespoke, and 3D printed, products on-demand for their customers.

Creating these bespoke products will incorporate the IoT (Internet of Things) vision of a world where devices talk to each other.

NOT 3D printed, but could be in the future: The UA ClutchFit 3.0 3D in the lab. Photo via: Under Armour
NOT 3D printed, but could be in the future: The UA ClutchFit 3.0 3D soccer boot in the lab. Photo via: Under Armour

Smart-talking shoes

To give an example; apps connected to chips inside running shoes can collect data about the specific way a person runs, i.e. their gait, the arch of the foot, the pressure they put on each leg. This data can form the basis for a wave of mass customization, where the market for a product can be defined down to the personal level – modifying fit, performance and materials.

Under Armour already own mobile fitness apps MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo capable of collecting such data. Implementing IoT into their products not only harnesses these resources, it also complies with company’s motto “Make athletes better”.

Footballer Memphis Depay's custom shoelaces. Photo via Under Armour on Facebook
Footballer Memphis Depay’s custom shoelaces. Photo via Under Armour on Facebook

Disruptive Performance through a Single View of the Consumer”

At the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) ‘Big Show’ 2017, Kurt Kendall, global head of consumer engagement at Under Armour gave a talk titled Under Armour: Disruptive Performance through a Single View of the Consumer. In the talk he explains Under Armour’s IoT concept, and states: “The easiest thing to do is to store data cheap, the hardest thing to do is to use that data to actually drive insights.”

Kendall then goes on to suggest:

Could we print out shoes based on the information we have about how you run, how you walk? That’s the type of in-store experience we think about.

3D printing in the world-wide fitness industry

Under Armour are not the only company to see this as a future direction of the sport and fitness industry. Adidas are accelerating their 3D printed shoe technology in the Speedfactory concept, due to open in Atlanta late 2017. Reebok are looking to do the same level of customization with a ‘Liquid Speed’ concept, and in 2016, Nike launched a new store in New York to give customers a more bespoke retail experience.

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Featured image shows American football running back Leonard Fournette is Under Armour’s most recent poster boy. Photo via: UnderArmour on Twitter

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