At CES 2016, New Balance announced the launch of a new Digital Sport division that aims to mix its physical activity expertise with modern technologies and bring it into a more modern era of sports and active lifestyles.
There are several aspects to Digital Sports' ecosystem: a Strava-based community of runners called Run Club, plans for embedding sensors and smart technology into future New Balance footwear and apparel and sports equipment (though nothing tangible has been announced there), and finally New Balance-branded wearables. The first product to launch in that latter category will be an Android Wear smartwatch.
Details are almost non-existent, but New Balance says the watch will be first and foremost focused on running. It alludes to the inclusion of a GPS chip so you could work out and track your route without a phone, and it explains that you'll be able to load your music and listen directly from the watch (which you can already do on any Wear device). The watch will have an Intel chip and will be available in the 2016 holiday season so we don't expect to see it before the last month or two of the year.
This announcement, along with Casio's watch plans that were revealed yesterday, signal an interesting development in Wear. The platform is finally expanding beyond similar smartwatches and it's interesting to see different companies start to inject their own expertise and direction (sports, outdoors, design, etc) into new and specialized watches.
- New Balance