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What, No Shoe Phone?

High technology has infiltrated the next generation of footwear. We decide which pairs kick our lives up a notch—and which need a reboot.

What, No Shoe Phone?
  1. My MP3 player is just so heavy to carry when I exercise. Do I have any options?
    It's true: The greatest hassle of carrying a portable MP3 player is … carrying it. Those few extra ounces can be a real burden. So Dada Footwear has a suggestion: Stuff it in your sneakers. Dada's Code M basketball Shoes ($200) have a built-in MP3 player (in the midsole of the right shoe) and stereo speakers (one in each shoe). If your feet don't want an audience, wireless headphones are included. Even more Code M sports shoes are in the works for December, including versions for tennis, running, and kids (oh, good).

  2. Seven hundred dollars for a running computer system? I think I'm having a heart attack.
    We're not surprised. Adidas and heart-rate-monitor maker Polar Electro have collaborated on an "integrated training system" that will serve up real-time data about your run. Trick yourself out with Adidas Adistar Fusion running shoes ($120) and shirts (average price $65), and Polar's S3 Stride Sensor, WearLink WIND transmitter, and RS800sd Running Computer ($489 for the set), and what do you get? Confirmation that running increases your heart rate. Paging Dr. Obvious! The system also tracks your running cadence, speed, distance, and calories burned.

  3. I want to wear my snowboarding boots all winter, but that's crazy, right?
    Not crazy at all. It's probably why the North Face has teamed up with Boa Technology, maker of a high-tech snowboard boot-lacing system, on the Ice Storm 400 GTX Boa ($195), winter boots made for daily use. The Boa Lacing System uses a pair of stainless-steel cables that wrap around a spool to tighten the boot around the foot. So your shoelaces won't freeze—or your feet.

  4. My feet hurt. Can you help?
    Try a pair of Timberland's PreciseFit shoes. Thirty-five percent of men have a half-size or greater difference between their left and right feet. PreciseFit uses an adapter—two are provided for each shoe—that attaches to the shoe's insole and changes the amount of space available for the foot, making the shoe less or more snug. The system is available in Timberland's Outlier Series of men's shoes, which includes both rugged and refined styles. Oxfords are $130, and chukkas cost $140.

  5. Will Nike+iPod gear make me a running nerd?
    Yes, and we mean that in a good way. With a pair of Nike+ running shoes ($85 to $110) and the Nike+iPod Sport Kit ($29), a sensor in your shoe communicates via radio frequency with a receiver you connect to the bottom of your iPod nano. While you're running, the nano's display tells you how far you've gone along with the time elapsed and your pace (minutes per mile). Cool twist: Sync up the nano with iTunes, and it sends your stored data to a dedicated Nike + Web site that lets you set goals and track your progress. And that's when you go from fun runner to full-fledged athle-geek.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.