Wearables

Smart shoes that keep you on your toes

Under Armour Hovr Machina
Under Armour Hovr Machina

Thankfully, you can still go out for jogs during this circuit breaker period and do not have to wear a mask while doing so (though I carry along a disposable mask to wear after my jogs).

Wearing a mask and huffing and puffing during runs would probably be doubly frustrating if you were wearing the Under Armour Hovr Machina, as these running shoes will bug you to keep up with your pace.

They have an embedded chip that talks to the UA MapMyRun app (available on Android and iOS) to track run statistics such as cadence, stride length, foot-strike angle and ground contact time as well as offer real-time coaching.

If you do not take your smartphone along for your runs, the Machina will still record the run information. You can sync it with the app after you get home.

But without a smartphone, you will not get voice prompts that ask you to increase your pace to keep within your target cadence range during your run.

I find the voice prompts helpful - they keep me on my toes and make sure I do not slack off when running.

Apart from being smart shoes, the Machina is also a fine pair of running shoes. With a heel drop of 8mm, it is ideal for neutral runners.

A propulsion plate between midsole and outsole is said to provide a faster and springier toe-off.

Its midsole is stuffed with Under Armour's Hovr lightweight foam and wrapped with the company's EnergyWeb system that prevents the foam from losing shape on impact. This creates rebound that saves energy for the runner - or energy return.

The shoes feel really comfortable from the moment I put them on.

I find the mesh upper very breathable and do not experience hot spots throughout my testing. I also like the shoes' ample external heel counter, which locks my injury-prone ankles in place nicely.​

  • FOR

    • Embedded chip records vital run information

    • Super comfortable

    • Provides great cushioning

    AGAINST

    • Energy return not as good as its competitors'

    SPECS

    PRICE: $229

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

    HEEL DROP: 8mm

    WEIGHT: 294g (Men's, US 9)

    RATING

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

On my usual 5km jogs, my knees do not experience the jolt I sometimes get with other running shoes. The cushioning is incredible for something so light and with such a thin midsole.

The energy return is good - better than last year's Hovr Infinite. But it loses out to shoes such as the Adidas Ultra Boost.

My review pair has a minimalist look - it will not call attention to itself but it is not dull-looking either. I call it stealthily elegant.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2020, with the headline 'Smart shoes that keep you on your toes'. Print Edition | Subscribe