For Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, the Super Bowl 50’s location in Silicon Valley this year couldn’t be more symbolic of where the company is today.
As the leader of Under Amour
, a major maker of sports apparel and equipment, his presence at the National Football League’s annual championship is an important business ritual. This year, the company’s roster of sponsored athletes includes Carolina Panthers quarterback and potential Super Bowl 50 star Cam Newton, along with some of his teammates as well as opponents on the Denver Broncos.
No matter the outcome of the game, it’ll be a win for the company.
“Under Armour is undefeated,” Plank jokes, perched on a high wooden chair during a live streamed interview with Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky two days before the big game.
Today, more than 70% of Under Armour’s revenue comes from apparel, says Plank, a former University of Maryland football player who started the company in 1996 out of frustration with his undershirts. But Plank’s attention is clearly on a new part of Under Armour’s business: technology.
Since 2013, Under Armour has spent $710 million to acquire health tracking mobile apps MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Endomondo. And for the past couple of years, the company has been working on its own contribution to the connected health device craze. Health Box, which it unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, is a suite of three connected devices—a scale, a wristband, and a chestband for tracking heart activity— that feed data into the company’s health apps. The aim is to help customers better track their body’s activity and health.
Under Armour is, of course, not the first or only athletic apparel company to venture into consumer electronics. Years ago, Nike
created a shoe sensor that connects to a smartphone, and for a while it also produced an activity tracker, the Nike Fuelband. But Nike shuttered that division in 2014.
Adidas already has a full line of trackers and even a smartwatch, while New Balance recently introduced sneakers with smartphone-connected sensors. And that’s not to mention the wearable device giants like Fitbit
, Apple, and Google
But Plank seems to have truly bought into the promise of a future in which everyone will track their health data and, more importantly, will use it to better manage their health.
“Moving toward this idea of biometric measurement, and an understanding of self, is I think, one of the waves of the future,” he says. The key, he added, is extracting insights from the data that the health devices collect.
And while Health Box is still in its infancy—it has barely hit the shelves of retail stores—Plank is very clear that these new technology products aren’t just a side project for the company. Furthermore, with this new focus, he emphasized that technology companies are also now Under Armour’s competition.
“What are we gonna do if Apple decides they’re going to make a shirt, or they’re going to make a shoe, and more importantly, why don’t we beat them to it?” Plank says.