Few people can seriously argue that Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) isn't an innovative company.
After all, the relatively small performance-apparel specialist largely built its name by creating a new class of moisture-wicking material for physically active consumers. This enabled the young company to effectively challenge industry behemoths such as Nike (NYSE:NKE), even tripling its revenue from around $600 million in 2007 to more than $1.8 billion last year.
In fact, just two weeks ago, my colleagues ranked Under Armour 10th in The Motley Fool's list of the 25 best companies in America -- a group, incidentally, in which the globally focused Nike didn't even appear.
True to form, Under Armour certainly isn't content resting on its laurels. To the contrary, the company continues to push the innovation envelope, as evidenced by its recently announced Armour39 biometric chest strap, which can monitor your heart rate, calories burned, real-time intensity, and your "WILLpower" -- a term Under Armour uses to describe the overall intensity of a workout on a scale from 0 to 10. Once Armour39 has collected your information, it can sync it in real time, either with an Armour39 watch or Under Armour's mobile app.
Of course, while the product isn't available yet, Under Armour has given us a sneak peek in a few select promotional videos, including this one released just last month.
Curiously, though, the video ends with a segment showing an athlete wearing a remarkable suit capable of changing colors and with a touchscreen display integrated into the arm. All the while, the narrator states, "The next great athletic innovation isn't available just yet, but it's being built at Under Armour right now."
Of course, the images are undoubtedly simulated, but who wouldn't drool over the prospects for a wearable display like this?
In fact, this futuristic athletic wear looks more like something that would be dreamed up as part of Corning's ridiculously awesome "A Day Made of Glass" concept videos, or perhaps akin to Apple's rumored wearable "iWatch" devices.
This also reminds me of a more streamlined version of the ruggedized, wrist-worn OLED devices that Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED) created and shipped to the U.S. Army back in 2010. When we consider that OLED displays can be made not only flexible but also virtually unbreakable, Universal Display's tech would seem a logical candidate for incorporation into Under Armour's latest ideas -- at least for the wrist-display aspect of the suit. (Don't ask me how they're planning to get it to change colors!)
All things considered, the fact Under Armour is willing to dream big is just one of the many reasons I'm convinced that its stock will have proved to be one of the world's greatest investments 50 years from now. If you're looking for a solid long-term growth play, then consider making room for Under Armour in your portfolio's closet.