Apple files ‘Smart Garment’ patent app; DRM for athletic shoes (Nike+iPod)

Apple’s United States Patent Application #20080218310, “Smart Garment,” was published today, September 11, 2008.

Apple describes the invention as, “a sensor authenticated to a garment transfers information, either wirelessly or wired, to an external data processing device. Such information includes location information, physiometric data of the individual wearing the garment, garment performance and wear data (when the garment is an athletic shoe, for example). The external data processing device can be portable digital media players that are, in turn, in wireless communication with a server computer or other wireless devices.”

Apples’ application states, “The invention relates generally to performance monitoring. More particularly, methods and apparatus electronically pairing an authorized garment and a sensor that receives data from the garment are disclosed.”

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s new iPod touch also features built-in Nike+iPod support. Users simply place the optional Nike+iPod sensor (US$19) in their Nike+ shoe to seamlessly connect with the new iPod touch to track miles run or sync with the latest generation gym equipment.

Apples’ application also states, “Unfortunately, however, it is becoming more commonly practiced to place the sensor at locations on a garment (shoes, for example) that are not specifically designed to physically accommodate the sensor and/or calibrated to accurately reflect data supplied to the wrist device. For example, Nike Inc. and Apple Inc. have joined forces to provide what is referred to as the Nike iPod Sport Kit that is a wireless device kit that allows communication between a pair of specially configured Nike+ shoes and an iPod nano. The Nike iPod Sport Kit is arranged such that at least one of the Nike+ shoes includes a sensor (that includes an accelerometer/transmitter) mounted under the inner sole and a receiver that communicates with the iPod nano. In order to accommodate the sensor and provide appropriate data to the iPod nano, the shoe must be a Nike+ model with a special pocket in which to place the sensor. However, some people have taken it upon themselves to remove the sensor from the special pocket of the Nike+ shoe and place it at inappropriate locations (shoelaces, for example) or place it on non-Nike+ model shoes.”

United States Patent Application #20080218310, “Smart Garment,” in full, is here.

For various reasons, some runners do not wear Nike shoes. In fact, even Apple CEO Steve Jobs often wears New Balance sneakers. Apple should either contract with other athletic shoe companies if they intend to use this invention or they should simply hold the patent and never use it. Athletic shoes don’t need DRM.

• Shoe Pouch for Nike+iPod Sport Kit now available in eight colors – July 30, 2007
• Marware debuts Sportsuit Sensor+ for iPod nano: Nike+iPod wireless sensor holder for non-Nike shoes – September 18, 2006
• Using Apple’s iPod Sport Kit with non-Nike shoes – July 17, 2006


  1. After watching the special event this week, I was confused. I know that the new iPod Touch will have this sensor built in already and you’d only need the shoe thingy. But since iPodT and iPhone use the same software, does this mean that with the 2.1 update to iPhone, I’d be finally able to use it with the attachment to the first-gen iPhone?

  2. The iPod + Nike product is fantastic. I totally agree with MDN’s take too…why not offer this product to other running shoe companies?

    Much like the iPhone and AT&T;. Why not let the other wireless players get in on the action?

    Must be in the contracts that Apple signs with these companies me thinks.

  3. Re: MDN Take – It may not be that simple. If Nike co-owns the technology, or if they participated in design and creation of it, Apple can’t simply walk away. Nor should they.

  4. Is DRM really an accurate way to characterize this? I think they are using the terms “authorized” and “authenticated” to mean something like “paired”, the way you have to enter a PIN in iTunes for an iPhone Remote to control it. The authorization would be the user’s, not the content owners (what content?)

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