Just do it! Nike develops MP3 player

Joint project with Diamond Multimedia is first to come out of new 'Nike[techlab' division. Can an MP3 shoe be far behind?

Nike is working with S3's Diamond Multimedia division to develop a digital audio player specially designed for athletes. The audio player, the first product released by Nike's newly launched Nike[techlab division, is part of a larger ambition by a company best known for making sports equipment.

"(We plan to take) Nike's advanced knowledge of sports and combine it with technology to produce cutting-edge products," said Ray Riley, creative director of Nike equipment and the Nike[techlab.

The new PSA[Play 120, which goes on sale in July, will be priced at $299 (£199). It will feature 64MB of built-in memory and play up to 120 minutes of music. It will also include a wearable remote control with a dot-matrix LCD display. At the same time, Nike is designing a line of apparel with pockets specifically designed to accommodate the player.

Nike officials, who said they wanted to develop a music player specifically for athletes, examined several different technologies before settling on digital audio. One advantage, according to vice president of equipment Claire Hamill, is that the athlete's movement won't cause the music to skip as it sometime does with cassettes or CD players.

Riley said the player will also provide athletes with a link to Nike.com, something the company is actively trying to encourage.

There will be a special section of the Web site devoted to the player, where athletes can do things like download music and program special "workout mixes."

Nike hopes to eventually integrate many more devices with the Web site.

"That is our ultimate goal (to have) objects that collect data ... and share that with us to have a link back to the athlete," he said.

Three of the other new products being developed by the Nike[techlab division are based on the company's Triax watch. The company has sold 2.5 million watches since its launch at the end of 1997.

The new products plan to add a compass, heart rate monitors, and speed and distance measurement technology to the watches.

Nike is also developing portable, handheld two-way radios that automatically receive weather alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's network of 500 broadcast stations.

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