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New Balance creating Android Wear watch for later this year

Sports apparel company getting into technology with Digital Sport division

New Balance is well known for its sporting apparel, but until now its running and football gear has been disappointingly analogue in nature. The American company is addressing that with a brand new Digital Sport division, which was announced at CES 2016.

The new division will focus on embedded technology and dedicated devices, and the first product to emerge from it will be a smartwatch based on Google’s Android Wear platform, incorporating technology from Intel. That’s why Intel shared the stage with New Balance at its big CES event tonight.

The smartwatch will use GPS to track routes and wireless technology to allow runners to leave their smartphone at home. The frustration for many runners, according to New Balance, is the intrusive nature of wired technology – so expect to need some Bluetooth headphones if you plan to work out with New Balance’s first wearable.

It launches this holiday period, but pricing, and even images of the device itself, are sadly yet to surface. Given the increased competition in the space, New Balance will need something particularly eye-catching, feature-packed, or especially affordable to stand out, particularly with another several months of competition ahead.

For example, Motorola recently released the Moto 360 Sport, which puts an active spin on its top Android Wear option, plus Casio just announced its own outdoors-oriented Android Wear smartwatch at CES. Still, New Balance obviously has some knowhow in this arena, and bringing in the input of Intel isn’t a bad place for anyone to start with a first wearable offering.