Baltimore-based sportswear company Under Armour is planning big things for wearables. While Under Armour has acquired fitness apps like MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal for $170 million total to expand their mobile presence, they’re ready for more. With the aid of these and other fitness-monitoring app acquisitions, Under Armour hopes to develop their own smart clothing.
“If we believe that our future is going to be defined by these hard pieces of glass or plastic that sit in our back pockets, you’re crazy,” CEO Kevin Plank said to investors recently. “It is going to convert into apparel.”
Plank told Under Armour’s investors that the company has been spending much of its money and time on developing these apps and compatible products. In the short term, the apps will be used as an advertising tool to sell Under Armour shoes and shirts. In the long term, the CEO believes clothing itself will be able to monitor activity through the apps, and he wants Under Armour to be a pioneer in the smart clothing market.
This wouldn’t be the company’s first endeavor into wearables. For the 2014 US Olympic speedskating team, they developed futuristic racing suits that were ultimately considered failures and not even worn by the team. The poorly-received endeavor costed Under Armour $1 million. They also sold a heart-rate strap in the past, inspired by plans to create a biometric-tracking shirt.
Despite these missteps, Plank believes Under Armour is well on its way to developing electronic apparel. While pitching to the founders of the acquired mobile apps, he showed an advertisement that depicted a woman wearing a shirt that could track her movement and analyse her fitness level. According to the commercial, that kind of product is under development at Under Armour now.