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Scope Series 4 RTÉ Two, Thursday, 7.00pm

Nike+ iPod

Nike and iPodThere are computer games for enthusiasts of just about every sport imaginable - from golfers, to footballers to fly fishers. Now, thanks to a collaboration between Apple and Nike, there’s one for runners too.

The Nike+ iPod running kit is being touted as one of the most interesting multi-player games released this past year, allowing runners around the world to race each other.

Unlike most computer games, which encourage their players to become couch potatoes, this one gets them up and running in the real world.

Using a special shoe-based sensor that hooks onto an iPod nano via a special receiver, the Nike+ iPod allows a runner to keep track of their speed and distance and to rank themselves against others.

Once the runner towels off, cools down and docks their iPod, information collected during their run is uploaded onto a website, allowing users to track their training and challenge friends to beat their best.

Runners playing the game get points for the distances they cover, and if they use the function that allows them to set personal goals for time, distance or even calories burned, they can earn virtual awards, ribbons and trophies.

Nike and iPodIn this episode, SCOPE interviews Irish based web enthusiast Bernie Goldbach about his take on the new game.  His raves about the Nike+ echo those of millions of users and many computer gaming critics who proclaim the Nike+ iPod as the best multiplayer game of the past year.

Then again, more suspicious sorts, specifically Scott Saponas, a runner, Nike+ user and University of Washington computer science graduate student, worry that the device could be used for surreptitious surveillance.

Scott and three fellow researchers were able to convert the Nike+ iPod into, as one researcher put it, “an easy surveillance device” with a little hacking, a cheap antenna and a small, inexpensive and easily hidden computer.

However, the report these slightly sneaky computer scientists released has not dampened public enthusiasm for the game at all, and sales still soar.

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