Smart running shoes inbound courtesy of Li Ning, Xiaomi

After watches and fitness bands (and bras), smartness might soon be coming even to footwear. That is certainly the proposition that Chinese athletic shoes and sporting goods maker Li Ning is trying to make when it revealed that "smart" running shoes will soon be the talk of the running community, at least in China. It won't be doing it all by itself however. For this quest, it has enlisted the help of Huami Technology, which is part of the Xiaomi family and is responsible for the latter's own Mi fitness bands.

If smart running shoes sound like a last ditch effort from a running shoes company, then it might exactly be what Li Ning's doctor prescribed. The Chinese company is expecting another full-year loss, the third time in a row this year. In an attempt to keep the wolves from the door, it is attempting to appeal to a younger demographic. And perhaps nothing appeals more to young ones than the idea of their shoes having their own brains. Sort of.

Those brains will come in the form of chips that will be embedded in the shoes' soles. It will function pretty much like what a fitness band or sporty smartwatch would do. It would keep track of runner's statistics and progress and, like other fitness services, keep a record of these and probably make recommendations. Communication will be done via a Xiaomi smartphone, though there is no mention whether it will be open to other Android smartphones as well. Naturally, the shoes won't be able to take note of a users' heart rate or blood oxygen levels, areas where it will lose out fitness bands.

Smart shoes are, of course, nothing new, but these will most likely be one of if not the first to come from a reputable name and not from a crowdfunded project. That said, it might not be the panacea that Li Ning expects. Compared to other fitness monitors, smart running shoes might be at a disadvantage, both in terms of features as well as in price. Li Ning will definitely need a pretty convincing pitch to sell these to fitness buffs if it wants its 2015 numbers to be significantly better.

SOURCE: Reuters