Sports footwear and apparel giant Nike has opened its Nike+ API developer portal, providing teams with the tools and resources they need to combine the popular Nike+ fitness metrics with their own profile and activity data.

The new portal has been launched to coincide with the Nike+ Accelerator program, an initiative being organised alongside renowned startup accelerator TechStars to find companies that will “use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals.”

It’s an interesting development. Until now, most fitness companies and their corresponding apps – take Runtastic for example – have kept their API and user data completely walled off from other services. That makes it very difficult for users to take advantage of different apps that are suited to their lifestyle, and also for developers to create something altogether interesting and new.

As an example, wouldn’t it be great to use that app which counts the calories you eat and drink every day, but then give it the information from your cycling app to work out how much of it you’ve burnt off?

By giving aspiring developers access to NikeFuel – the overarching metric used by Nike in all of its apps and fitness devices, including the incredibly popular Nike+ FuelBand – as well as other data such as running pace, total distance covered, running routes and personal records, there’s an obvious opportunity to build an even better fitness app and hardware ecosystem.

Nike is taking applications for its Nike+ Accelerator until February 3, so if you’re interested in getting on board you’ll need to start drafting a prototype pretty quickly. To help people out though, the company has organised several meet-ups across the United States, starting next week:

  • Tuesday, January 22 (from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, EST): RocketSpace, 181 Fremont St, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • Thursday, January 24 (from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, EST): TechStars NYC HQ, 36 Cooper Square, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10003.
  • Friday, January 25 (from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, EST): TechStars Boston, 1 Cambridge Center, Sixth Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • Tuesday, January 29 (from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, EST): Portland, with venue to be confirmed.

Nike has announced some new mentors to the Nike+ Accelerator program too, including Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp and Stephanie Tilenius, an executive-in-residence at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. They’ll be joining Nike’s vice president of Digital Sport, Stefan Olander, as well as the founder and CEO of TechStars, David Cohen and the co-founder of Foursquare, Naveen Selvadurai, among many others.

Companies that are successful will be contacted before the end of February, and start the program in Portland, Oregon, near Nike’s HQ in mid-March. They will be given $20,000, as well as the following goodies to get cracking on their idea:

  • Access to the Nike+ APIs, Nike+ mobile SDKs, and Nike+ FuelBand Dev Kit (Beta)
  • A Nike+ FuelBand for each team member
  • Tech support from experienced developers who’ve built companies, or built with Nike+ Application
  • Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • Code and solution reviews during the program
  • Mentor sessions with Nike executives and leaders in the start-up community
  • Two Investor Demo Days: one at the Nike World Headquarters and one in Silicon Valley

The Nike+ Accelerator is a promising idea and should help both the fitness and technology industry to innovate even further in this area. The Nike+ platform is already pretty formidable, but with some of the brightest minds working on new ways to enhance that data, users can expect some pretty interesting new apps and gear by the end of the year.

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