Smart running shoes do double duty

Launched early this month, the Under Armour (UA) Hovr Infinite is the first model of the 2019 Hovr running shoes series to be available.

This year, all UA Hovr running shoes will come with an embedded sensor that connects to UA's MapMyRun app (Android and iOS). The sensor is able to track running distance, pace and split times, as well as gait metrics like cadence and stride length. In short, they are all smart running shoes.

In the coming months, UA will be releasing its Hovr Guardian stability trainers for overpronators and its Hovr Velociti 2 speed trainers that are meant for race-day use.

Unlike them, the Hovr Infinite is a pair of neutral trainers designed for distance training.

It features UA Hovr's foam midsole that extends from heel to forefoot to fully cradle and cushion the foot. The midsole is surrounded by an outer cage that is said to help the runner's foot move efficiently through heel strikes.

The rubber outsole has a textured pattern to provide enhanced grip. In addition, it has deep flex-grooves that follow the foot's natural flex angles for smoother transition during foot strikes.

The upper is a two-piece construction with the forefoot area having a breathable mesh and the heel area having a tighter structure.

The Infinite is not a fashion statement.


    PRICE: $219

    MATERIAL: Under Armour's Hovr midsole with rubber outsole and mesh upper

    HEEL DROP: 8mm

    WEIGHT: 305g (Men's US 9)


    DESIGN: 3.5/5


    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But function-wise, it is up there with the best. The shoes feel comfortable from the start. I like the ventilation it provides andthat its heel counter offers ample support for my injury-prone ankles.

In addition, the Infinite provides great cushioning for my knees.

Perhaps the only issue is its lack of significant rebound, unlike, say, the Adidas Ultra Boost running shoes.

The sensor is embedded in the right shoe. Tilt the right shoe up, with the heel as the fulcrum, to start the pairing process between the sensor and the MapMyRun app on your smartphone.

The sensor can track your run without being connected to the app, but you will need to be running at a fairly brisk pace - at least 8.7 minute a kilometre - for the shoes to register your run. You can sync it with the app after the run.

When running with the app connected, it uses the smartphone's GPS to track distance with map route and elevation, in addition to the run metrics that the sensor collects.

With the app connected, the Infinite is spot-on in tracking the distance of my 5km jogging route. When not connected to the app, it tracked around 400m less over the same route. This is not bad, given some fitness trackers and GPS watches have similar deviations when tracking workouts automatically.

In addition, the app will provide tips like suggesting the right stride length to prevent injuries.

Despite being a pair of smart running shoes, the Hovr Infinite is still affordable at $219. Many normal running shoes, such as the Ultra Boost, cost more than that.

• Verdict: The Under Armour Hovr Infinite is a pair of smart running shoes that is surprisingly superb at being a trainer and a run tracker.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2019, with the headline 'Smart running shoes do double duty'. Print Edition | Subscribe