While Nike hasn’t made any recent announcements of upcoming smart products—it essentially shut down its wearables program in 2014 when it scrapped Fuelband—it recently received a patent for a new system to record and display a user’s physical activity. It could be looking to improve or expand its existing Nike+ system, which uses a standalone sensor that can be inserted into a sneaker and syncs with a Nike app.

The push into connected fitness is more than a gimmick. While connected sneakers like Nike’s aren’t completely new, they haven’t yet caught on the way the Fitbit has. But the market is there: Fitness is increasingly becoming a part of people’s lifestyles, to the point that Morgan Stanley believes the global market for activewear will add $83 billion in sales by 2020 as sports and exercise become ever more popular, especially in China. 

At the same time, the growing “internet of things” is ushering in another type of lifestyle shift, one where people expect technology-enabled systems to help them lead better, more data-driven lives. As wearables take off, improved smart sneakers could satisfy both these growth areas.

Under Armour’s CEO and founder, Kevin Plank, said in a statement, ”For 20 years, Under Armour has changed the way athletes dress and now we will change the way athletes live.”

There’s going to be a lot of competition for those athletes and their Wi-Fi connections in the year ahead.

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