Xiaomi partners with Li Ning to create smart running shoes
China's largest domestic smartphone manufacturer is partnering with one of the country's leading sports brands to create 'smart' running shoes that will track exercise and health data.
According to local news portal iFeng.com, Xiaomi's subsidiary Huami, which oversees production of the company's Mi Band fitness tracker, is partnering with Li Ning in that company's first foray into wearable technology and 'smart sports'.
In a statement, Li Ning said it had long been considering entering the wearables market, and that the choice to partner with Xiaomi was influenced by the company's popularity in China and success in bringing high-quality, low-price products to market.
"We have chosen to collaborate with the Mi band because of Huami Technology's strength in 'smart' wearable products," the statement read.
"We hope to use this opportunity to provide professional 'smart' running shoes to running enthusiasts in China at an affordable price."
Production of the smart shoes has already begun, with Li Ning collecting data from Chinese runners and sports professionals as Huami develops a modified version of its fitness tracker to go in the heel of the shoes.
The final product will record distance travelled and runners' gait, as well as other health data, which will then be transmitted to Xiaomi's fitness app for peformance analysis and social-media sharing.
Following the success of the Mi Band fitness tracker, with more than one million sold in the first three months, Huami secured US$35 million in Series B funding late last year, according to Tech in Asia.
Founded by former Chinese sportsman and three-time Olympic gold medalist Li Ning in 1990, the Hong Kong-listed company has struggled in recent years. In January it revealed that it expected to suffer net losses of up to 820 million yuan (US$131 million) in 2014, more than double its net loss of 391.54 million yuan in 2013.
Li Ning is not the first sportswear brand to move into the wearables market. Nike launched the Nike+ iPod Sports Kit in 2006 in partnership with Apple, following it with the FuelBand wrist tracker in 2012. Under Armour has also partnered with wearables manufacturer Jawbone to release branded fitness tracking devices.