Sports & Fitness Product Testing
Here at Under Armour, we strive to create products that are not only easy to use but that can deliver accurate data about your health and fitness. We want to provide understandable information to athletes, along with how that data fits into the context of their personal story. To achieve this, we develop products both for and with our athlete customers as an integral part of our research and development.
In the fall of 2016, when we were developing our UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones, we saw an opportunity to simplify several parts of the athlete’s experience logging workouts. It started with the desire to create a small wireless audio headset that could read heart rate, and that would be ideal for both running and workouts in the gym. We know our customers want headphones that are completely out of the way, have great audio quality, are simple to use, and that could replace the sometimes-irritating heart rate chest strap.
Making this product was not easy, though: it required a multi-component test plan designed to assess the product, both in a controlled setting and “in the wild”.
We created an iterative loop that allowed us to improve the mechanics of the product, including: testing some specific aspect of the product, analyzing the results, improving the product, and repeating.
We first created a workout specifically designed to test the fit, feel, and heart rate accuracy of the headphones. We then recruited unique testers to execute our workout under controlled conditions (think: on a treadmill in a room at a specific temperature). Then we collected feedback on fit and feel, and crunched the numbers to test heart rate accuracy. Finally, we repeated this process with each new mechanical improvement we made to the headphones.
This loop enabled us to continually improve the product for all of those aspects: fit, feel, ease of use, heart rate accuracy, and overall product quality. We tested with over fifty individuals and ran hundreds of individual tests, giving us the confidence we needed to move on to the next stage.
Testing in The Wild
Next, we employed “in the wild” testing to understand how the product behaved outside of a controlled setting. This testing phase consisted of us giving heart rate headphones to individuals who would then take them home, use them, and provide qualitative feedback. This type of out-of-the-lab testing from real-world customers is crucial to us building a complete picture of product performance in everyday situations, and over longer periods of time.
By the end of our testing process, our testers were able to help us adjust: the initial experience with the product, instructions for how to wear the headphones, ease of wear, and the accuracy of the heart rate sensor. Learning about the shape of people’s ears was a particularly useful aspect of our wider testing, which enabled evolutions in fit, form, and accuracy by understanding the variances in ear shapes.
We are always dreaming up and developing new products to Make All Athletes Better. If you would like to participate in Under Armour product testing as an official Under Armour Field Tester, please sign up. After signing up, you could be called upon to receive clothes or gear, and possibly asked to come into our lab to participate in our research, playing an essential role in the development of new and exciting products!