Blog

NURVV Perform a thorough review

488views

There have been many running efficiency products over the years, usually designed to analyze aspects of your running technique, and then ideally provide real-time (while running) or post-running feedback on how to improve. The shape of these products varies, but often they are somehow related to your shoes. Insoles are popular, as are small pods. And most of them then connect to your phone. Some even your GPS watch.

To which, NURVV basically said: Yes, all of this please. Also… add GPS too.

Their ultimate goal is to be a single cohesive platform from data collection (including insoles inside shoes and GPS linked to shoes) to real-time coaching feedback via a smartphone app, to analytics post-run. And on a purely technical level, they really succeed. Of course, I’ll talk about GPS accuracy and some other usability aspects that could be improved. But overall, they’ve done * a lot * more than any previous product in this category.

However, the challenge for NURVV is not really technical or product. Rather, it is the alignment of the purpose of the market to the users of the market. But… we are anticipating ourselves. First, let’s talk about hardware.

Actually, first a quick note that NURVV sent these media loan units to test them. Once I’m done here, they will send them back. It’s how I move. If you found this review helpful, click on the links at the end or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also gaining access to a series of mostly weekly behind-the-scenes videos from DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

THE HARDWARE:

 

The first is the hardware, which is critical (and required) for the entire NURVV system. Unlike some units you will buy, this one is very shoe size specific. Depending on the shoe size, they have one of six different insole sizes. Therefore, resale of these is unlikely unless you find a buyer of the same size. Here’s the box they come in:

 

 

Essentially you have the insoles themselves, a charging connector (+ micro USB cable) and then the NURVV pods that plug into the insoles.

You can see that the insoles are incredibly thin. Each insole has 16 pressure sensors / pads distributed over the entire surface (32 if both insoles are counted):

 

These sensors then provide data, including foot position and pronation information. Whereas aspects such as elevation or distance / pace will be derived from the pods.

To install them, remove the existing insole for a moment, then slide these under it, then replace the insoles again. This is remarkable compared to some other systems I’ve tried that act as an insole that touches your sock. In my experience those products eventually die from constant rubbing between the sock and the insole (just like your insoles eventually wear out normally). But placing them under the normal / main insole should alleviate this a bit. But realistically it will take a long time to find out.

 

The company says they will last 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of running, after which they can be replaced for $ 80 (you don’t have to throw out the pods). To help you with the math, they would last a year if you did ~ 30 miles / 50km per week.

Speaking of pods, they attach to the outside edge of the shoe, via a thin ribbon cable that you ideally won’t notice. The whole insole + cable / connector comes in at 22g each, which I didn’t notice (but I’m not wearing light shoes). The pods are 55g each, and I didn’t even notice them on my giant feet.

 

Now I say “ideally”, because that’s the best way to describe it. In my case, on my first run, my (poor) choice of socks that day meant the cord was rubbing into the skin of my ankle, which in turn meant I left a little trail of blood for the entire run. . No really, I’m not kidding. I have photos. Looks like I was attacked by a squirrel on my run.

This was largely my fault – I should have been wearing socks that didn’t expose skin for that run, until my skin got used to that light rubbing. Each shoe will be different, as will each foot. Now, two months later, I don’t notice it at all (nor do I leave a bloody trail in the snow).

 

Each pod is exceptionally well secured to the ribbon clamp. Probably a little too good some days, but it’s definitely not going anywhere. With a little force, however, you can unlock / clip it from the shoe clamp, then charge it into the charging connector.

The doohickey in charge loads both pods at the same time. The battery life of the pods is sadly only around 5 hours, so many runners will likely need to charge at least once a week to get through a full set of workouts. The app will tell you exactly how much time is left:

 

While I will cover the app in more detail in the next section, it will be mostly for the analytics side. For now, let’s continue with some hardware-related app type settings. For example, above in that screenshot, I can also see the exact firmware version of both pods, as well as the serial numbers. I can turn autopause on and off, which will do exactly as it says if you stop for a traffic light or half-way ice cream.

Also there is the ANT + ID for the internal foot pod. This is because the unit can transmit like an ANT + footpod to devices, namely Garmin and Wahoo watches, to connect to it for a more stable gait. In fact, you could even use it for Zwift running if you like, as it would transmit like the racing footpod that Zwift needs.

Additionally, it can also connect via ANT + and Bluetooth Smart to heart rate sensors (straps or even Garmin watch transmission), as well as via the Apple Watch app from an Apple Watch. I will give credit here, they did their homework, thought about it and implemented it correctly. One has to wonder how a small startup can properly get heart rate via an Apple Watch, but a billion dollar company like Peloton is too lazy to enable Apple Watch HR broadcast via a small Apple Watch app at own Peloton bikes. I mean… I’m just saying.

That said, it doesn’t really work for me anymore. I mean, that was until yesterday – happily paired with a chest strap, except then I went to redo the pairing screen. Partly for this review and partly to check for something else, and I haven’t been able to get it re-paired as a sensor since then. I didn’t have much of a problem, but I was wearing 6 heart rate sensors at the time (and only one now), so invariably it would have to find * something *.

Within the settings it is also possible to test the sensors. It’s like playing a light version of Twister with your feet. While it serves zero training purposes, it’s fun and satisfying. Of course, it’s also (mostly) there for troubleshooting.

Finally, within the settings you can change the measurement units and connect to Strava. Since the platform has no other export methods, connecting to Strava is quite important.

At the same time, I don’t really understand who the consumer here is who probably wouldn’t have a TrainingPeaks account. So the lack of connection options beyond Strava (including the lack of TrainingPeaks) is rather odd. The same goes for the lack of ability to manually export training files if desired, for example to analyze them elsewhere.

Which makes it as good a time as any to dive deeper into the app.

Leave a Response