Epson, a brand best known for its computer printers, will begin shipping its first sports technology products in the coming weeks. The centerpiece of the launch is a series of high end sports watches that will be backed by an endorsement from Meb Keflezighi.
The Nagano, Japan-based company has been making GPS chips since 1995 and is already a player in sports technology in its home country, but the rollout of its sports watches and a gold training device represent its first foray into the U.S. sports market. “We’re a Japanese company so we have a long term strategy,” said Randy Bergstedt, a sporting goods industry veteran, who is overseeing the rollout.
The strategy targets the three key segments in the sports technology business: sports watches with an emphasis on running; golf training devices; and activity monitors. Golf and running products will begin shipping this month. The activity bands may hit the market later this year.
The Runsense running watch collection features three models: The SF-810 which retails for $349; the 710 which has an MSRP of $279 and the 510, set to retail at $249.
The 810 is Epson’s state-of-the-art product and the device worn by Meb. The 810 uses an optical light sensor to measure heart rate and does not require a strap. The 810 (and the other watches) synch up with Run Connect, a free app created by Epson and also synchs up with most major running apps including Map My Run, Strava and Runkeeper. “We believe in playing well with others,” Bergstedt says.
Wynit, the Epson distributor for the sports technology, is selling in the product now and the brand plans to limit distribution to specialty retail.
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