In the long-gone days before fitness trackers, smartwatches and GPS smartphones, the nascent field of wearable tech had something called "foot pods." These small devices attached to your sneakers and were used to track a variety of running metrics. Some sport watches displayed this data in real time, but in most cases you had to sync the pod up to your computer, iPod-style. No wonder that have since fallen into obscurity.
But as mass market wearables grow in popularity, foot pods targeted to a new generation of runners are seeing a resurgence of sorts. Case in point is the MilestonePod: It can measure running pace, distance, duration, cadence (steps per minute) and more -- and it's surprisingly accurate. This information is then synced to the Android or iOS app, where you can analyze the data and receive insights to help improve your running form.
The MilestonePod is available now for $25 (about £20, AU$30). That's a small price to pay for a device that transform your current sneakers into a pair of smart shoes, especially when you consider Under Armours' smart shoes go for $150 and will only last 350 miles.
I didn't think I would like the MilestonePod as much as I do. It's a good device for indoor running or when GPS isn't available. The low price also makes it appealing to new runners who may not want to spend $100-plus on a full fledged running watch.
How does it work and what can it track?
The pod is small and out of the way. It's a little larger than a quarter and weighs only 9 grams. It clips into a small dock, which is woven through the laces on your sneakers. I doubt you will even notice it -- I never did.
The accelerometer and other sensors in the pod will automatically recognize when you begin running and start recording. It can automatically pause the recording when stopped, such as when you are waiting to cross the street. It's also waterproof, so you are safe to run in the rain or even jump in a puddle. If the pod isn't low enough (about ¾ down) on the lace, however, it won't record runs properly.
The pod can measure all the running basics: duration, pace, distance and cadence. While it measures steps taken during a run, it doesn't do it throughout the day. This isn't an activity tracker and isn't designed for all-day wear.
More advanced measurements include foot strike, ground contact, rate of impact, stride length and leg swing. You may not initially understand why these are useful, but that's what the app is for.
The MilestonePod app
The pod is equipped with Bluetooth for syncing with your Android or iOS device. It doesn't' sync automatically, though. You have to instead open the app and tap a button to start the syncing process, which is mildly annoying.
The app does a good job at explaining all of the metrics the pod can record. For example, it notes that a high rate of impact can lead to injury, a higher leg swing is considered more efficient, and that 180 steps per minute is thought to be ideal for most runners.