Google, Adidas, and EA have teamed up on a smart shoe insole that connects to your phone and can turn your kicks and movement on the soccer field into rewards in FIFA Mobile. The smart insole is powered by Google’s Jacquard wearable technology, which was previously only available on two Levi’s jackets and on a Yves Saint Laurent backpack.
The product is called the Adidas GMR, and it’s on sale now. For $40, you’ll get two insoles, a Jacquard tag to put in the shoe of your dominant foot, and a dummy tag that goes in the shoe of your other foot.
On the jackets and backpack, the Jacquard tag connects to your phone so you can use touch-sensitive fabric as a remote for calls, music, and more. The tag that comes with the GMR is the same second-generation tag that comes with newer Levi’s jackets and the backpack, but it functions quite differently — it slips into a pocket on the insole and tracks your physical movements with on-device machine learning algorithms. The kicks and running you do while playing soccer can then be translated into in-game rewards in FIFA Mobile.
The idea seems similar to what Nike tried to pull off with its in-shoe Nike + iPod sensor, which connected to your iPod to track your runs, or its Nike+ Basketball program, which helped you up your basketball game by connecting certain pairs of shoes with the Nike+ iOS app.
The GMR tag connects to the new Adidas GMR app, and once you set that up, you’ll be able to link it with your FIFA Mobile profile. Once you do, you’ll unlock an Adidas GMR-exclusive event in FIFA Mobile that will offer new real-world challenges every week, such as kicking a ball a certain amount of times or running a certain amount of miles. There will also be leaderboards where you can see rankings for things like who has kicked a ball the fastest.
However, the process to actually get your movement data into FIFA Mobile sounds a little clunky. You’ll have to first open up the GMR app to pull the data from the Jacquard tag and then open FIFA Mobile to have your movement data brought into the game.
You’ll also have to make sure the tag is charged if you want it to track your movements. The battery is designed to last two or three full games of soccer, or about a week if you’re just using the tag for more moderate usage. But every time you want to charge the tag, you’re going to have to take out the insole, take the tag out of the insole, charge the tag over Micro USB, and then put the tag back in the insole and the insole back in your shoe.
But those potential frustrations could be worth putting up with if you’re an avid soccer and FIFA Mobile player — if you’re already playing a lot of soccer, the GMR seems like it could let you turn your on-the-field efforts into an advantage on the virtual field as well.