Being an innovation keynote speaker and inventor of a running innovation product, I like to keep up on the latest innovations in all industries, but especially in the ones I’m connected to, like the running industry.
I love the sport of running because it doesn’t involve expensive equipment, you can do it almost anywhere, and you don’t need other people to get started. Just put on your running shoes and run out the door. But just because running is simple, that doesn’t stop running innovators from trying to reinvent the wheel… or the running shoe.
One of the first things inventors do when they want to come up with a new innovation is start asking questions. Think about the problem and ask as many questions as you can come up with to help solve it. What if I could come up with a better system for hydration for runners? What if I could come up with a hands-free hydration system for runners?
Wrist water bottle
That’s the question I asked myself when I passed out from dehydration while running in the summer heat in Texas. I thought I had drunk enough water to sustain me for a long long, but I was wrong. Instead I passed out from dehydration by the side of the road. Luckily, a friendly passerby took me to the hospital. While lying there I realized running without water wasn’t a good idea. I would run with my keys and music, so I didn’t have any way to hold a regular water bottle. I looked at my IV connect to my wrist and thought there had to be some way to carry water hands-free. Then it hit me – a wrist water bottle! A unique twist on running innovation.
I made a simple prototype out of clay and a wrist band to get an idea of what it would look like. Then I took it to a mold maker and they made my first bottle. I had bands made from terry cloth and attached an off the shelf cap to the bottle. This was my first wrist water bottle, which I called HydroSport. They were kind of clunky, but they worked. I eventually perfected the product with vel-stretch bands and nicer packaging. I’ve since gotten them into 25 countries through distributors and they became a NADAQ product of the year semi finalist. Strong trade dress IP was recently issued, and the line is expanding to include a drink mix.
Heelless running shoe
What if your running shoes don’t have heels? That’s exactly what physiotherapist Adri Hartvelt asked the day he came up with the concept for his heelless running shoe. Hartvelt’s company Healus Technology came up with the prototype and partnered with Staffordshire University to develop and test the shoe.
The purpose of this new innovative running shoe is to avoid direct impact on the heel and therefore it helps to reduce running injuries and allows runners to run longer. Faster runners tend to strike the ground with the ball of their foot instead of the heel. Joggers tend to strike the ground with the heel, leading to more injuries.
The Healus shoe concept has been around for a couple of years.
Check out this interview with the inventor, Adri Hartvelt:
Headlights for your running shoes
The idea for Night Runner, headlights for your running shoes, started off similar to my wrist water bottle product. Co-founder Doug Storer had headed out for a run to prepare for a marathon. But instead of running in the heat, like I did, he ran in the early morning when it was cool. This was great until he tripped over a pothole in the darkness. He mentioned to his wife Renata that he needed headlights for his shoes. And together they decided to set out to make it happen.
As most inventors do, they cobbled together different things to test like small flashlights that attached to their shoes, and eventually had a prototype made. The final product has 270 degrees of visibility with 30 meters of beam distance.
After having the product on the market for just 8 months, they got the chance to pitch in front of the Shark Tank investors. They eventually went with Robert Herjavec, but the deal fell through later after the Storers decided against it.
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