One of the big sports-based breakthroughs of 2012 was the integration of GPS navigation into sports watches. Watches like the Garmin Fenix and Suunto Ambit offer users the ability to create tracks and navigate routes from the wrist. We're barely into 2013, and the GPS sports watch has made another big step: color mapping.

The team behind the Leikr watch includes a group of former Nokia engineers that were dissatisfied with existing sports watches. They applied some engineering practices from the cell phone market with the aim of creating a watch that could zero in on GPS faster and offer a more seamless user interface.

The most interesting part of the Leikr is its integrated mapping functionality. Sourced from OpenStreetMap, the color maps display your current location, track and route on the two-inch display. This way, it's easy to keep track of exactly where you are, where you've been and where you're going when out exercising. The display can also show pace, speed, heart rate, distance, elapsed time and calories burned all on one screen, so you don't have to constantly toggle through different stats.

The Leikr allows you to set up workouts on the Web, a standard function on sports monitors. With the integrated Wi-Fi connectivity, however, you can download information from Leikr's portal on the go without a hard computer connection. During the workout, the watch provides feedback about your performance, serving as a virtual coach. After cool down, users can wirelessly upload their workout data to the Endomondo online sports community for sharing, analysis and competition.

Leikr designers opted for a large screen so the watch could display more information clearly. However, they worked to slim down the rest of the hardware so that the Leikr isn't too big and bulky on the wrist. The device is about 10.5 mm thick and weighs an estimated 2 ounces (55 g).

The Leikr's large rubber buttons make things easy to control, and the optimized GPS hardware gains a fix within as little as 30 seconds. The watch uses a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery that lasts up to six hours in active GPS mode. ANT+ integration works with wireless accessories like foot pods and cadence sensors. Like the Ambit, the Leikr's software is upgradeable, so the watch should offer new updates and features over time.

The Leikr team is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. It hopes to earn the US$250,000 it needs to proceed with getting the watch to market by June. The $149 and $229 options are sold out, but you can still pre-order a Leikr with a pledge of $279.

Source: Leikr, Kickstarter