Toy Tech: Watch My Run



Forerunner 220, Garmin Ltd. © 2014

While several books on running regal readers with stories of how wonderful a journey pounding pavement truly is, depicting nothing short of spiritual nirvana filled with glorious daisies and daffodils dancing in your peripheral vision as you run down soft billowy cushions of concrete sidewalks, the truth, however, is something entirely different.

Running on concrete is actually really, really hard on your feet and knees giving them a tremendous pounding with the full weight of your body—if you are a light-footed waif I hate you. In addition to this, outside conditions range from downright freezing cold to hazardous heat wave warnings and yet we are out there pounding the pavement and putting in the miles.

Why? Everyone has their own personal reasons, mine are focused on cardio health but truth be told it gives me an outlet to simply clear my mind and be free of boundaries—it’s just me and the open road. Oh yes, and when those endorphins hit it’s absolutely amazing, which is totally legal by the way.

Interesting to note, a few minutes before every run I tend to give myself a million and one reasons not to, ranging from not having enough time in the day to the fear of being caught in my multi-colored clown shoes and bright yellow tank top during a possible apocalyptic event.

As I run the first mile huffing and puffing, my feet gradually send warning signals to my mind explaining this is a poorly conceived idea, then the conversation slowly moves toward some very serious pleading and then it all deteriorates into a loud inner scream demanding this senseless torment stops at all cost.  

Ahhhhhhhhhh, but when those endorphins start to kick in all is forgiven—I go from hating the mere thought of running to not wanting to stop. So, the problem for me isn’t the actual run but finding the motivation before the run when my feet cry out at the mere sight of running shoes. That’s where tech-toys come in handy because they not only help to motivate but also allow the mind and body to work together by monitoring your heart rate and other important biorhythms in real time.

A running watch is an amazing adult toy—now that just sounds awful—how about a really cool toy that has an amazing two-fold play pattern. The first is the actual product you buy to wear on your wrist which is the tangible aspect of the toy with it’s own unique purpose and play.


Tom Tom, Nike, Suunto and Polar watch offerings, © 2014

The watch alone allows you to check every beat of your heart rate in real time as well as your running pace, distance and even cadence with a beep every mile lap. To most runners this alone is worth the price. I use the new Garmin Forerunner 220 but if you want to buy me the 620 I would hug you (awkward) and maybe even cry (really awkward). I digress.

The most important item of note is really the lightning fast satellite hookup for GPS acquisition, which comes in pretty handy on those freezing cold days or when you’re just trying to squeeze in a run within a hectic schedule. The super lightweight design is much appreciated and the wristband actually feels fantastic unlike their older versions.

Now, this watch deserves high praise especially when you realize the value in the second play pattern which is the accuracy, dependability and interaction with their Garmin Connect website—in short, the ability to watch your run afterwards. Not the most visually appealing site in the marketplace mind you, but the new updated global launch revealed an improved design, well, kinda.

This online resource not only allows you to view your amazingly detailed stats, but also can be used to create your own workouts and download them to your device, which leads to a combined play pattern making your runs informative, interactive and dare I say—actually fun.

Of course, this isn’t a commercial for Garmin because there are other companies such as Tom Tom, Nike, Suunto and Polar providing amazing products as well with equally compelling online interactivity and visuals to enhance the consumer experience. The point in this post is simply celebrating the inherent potential of interactive play, linking the physical toy to the online digital experience. 

I love studying successful industrial design to see what I can glean and bring to my toy ideation. This concept of design synergy promises continued growth potential in our industry and an exciting way to breathe new vitality and creativity into future toy concepts.



One thought

  1. Fun article-we will definitely see a design swing in our industry. As a runner myself, the clown shoe visual was very apropos. However, my endorphin’s never seem to kick-in-I don’t look forward to it & am very happy when I finish. Before you ask, health!

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