As a runner, biker or triathlete, how great would it be to have a navigator with you, offering key information like heart rate, pace, speed and cadence during your workout and letting you know when you’re slacking off or pushing too hard, all without taking your eyes off the road ahead? If you think that’s not happening unless you’re pulling a rickshaw behind you, I suggest a more practical solution: the Sportiiiis heads up display and audio feedback system. From 4iiii Innovations, this lightweight device provides athletes with the kind of performance data they need to improve their workouts and cut down their times, all with just a couple taps of their fingers.
The unit itself is small and simple: Just attach the Sportiiiis system (pronounced “Sport Eyes”) to the arm of your glasses (sunglasses, prescription specs, whatever) using the included mounting bracket, wrap the boom (containing the heads up display) around the front of your glasses, make some final adjustments and it’s all set. The only downside with the setup is that you pretty much need to leave the mounting bracket attached to the glasses you’ve chosen – even when you’re not working out – unless you want to go through the setup process again, but that may only be a minor inconvenience for some users.
So you you’ve got the fully charged Sportiiiiis strapped to your glasses. How does this thing work? Well, you’ll need to put in some study time before hitting the road to fully understand all the bells and whistles. The Sportiiiis synchs with any ANT+ device – like a heart rate monitor, a foot pod or a bike sensor, all of which you can buy from 4iiii Innovations or separately from other manufacturers – to give you the information you want to track during your workout. Just download the user guide and configuration software, set up your profile and determine which “Zones” (heart rate, pace, cadence, etc.) you want the Sportiiiis tracking in conjunction with whichever ANT+ device(s) you’ll be using.
You’re not quite ready yet, though. You’ll cycle through the various settings and readings using a series of touches and taps on the side of the unit. It’s not overly complicated but you won’t just be able to figure it all out on the fly. For example, pressing the power button once starts and stops your session; holding the power button for two beeps turns the unit off; holding it for three beeps switches to bike or run mode; double-tapping the side switches between the paired sensors you’re using. Be sure to put the Sportiiiis through some test runs before taking to the road.
Once you’ve done the homework, though, you’ll see firsthand just how useful this device can be. The display is made up of a series of seven LED lights that indicate where you are in the particular zone you’re tracking. For example, if you’re hitting your target heart rate, the LED blinks green. Fall above or below that mark and different lights flash to let you know it’s time to slow down or pick up the pace. This system is programmable by color and position so you can tweak it to best suit your needs. Additionally, the audio function announces when you’ve successfully switched between zones or modes and can tell you when you’re on target, or above/below, via the tiny speaker at the back of the unit. It’s all pretty cool and, once you get the hang of it, pretty easy to use.
The one drawback is a personal one that will vary from one athlete to the next, since some simply don’t like wearing glasses while they work out. Bikers probably don’t mind at all, but as a runner, I’ve never been a huge fan of wearing shades on the road – all that bouncing around can get on my nerves. The Sportiiiis, however, may very well make me reconsider that stance, particularly during an important training run. I’d probably leave the unit at home for simple maintenance runs, but for those who like to have all of their metrics available to them on the go, there may not be a better solution than the Sportiiiis.