According to a recent report in Modern Healthcare, 21% of consumers own a wearable device (e.g. fitness monitor, sleep tracker, etc.), but only about half of them actually use the device every day. This does not surprise me as I am one of those slackers. My Fitbit is in my desk drawer, my Misfit Shine is on my bedside table (I think). I bought both a LumoBack and a LumoLift. The latter I have not even set up yet. It’s not that I want to slouch or slack, it’s just that I can’t be bothered to put these things on—they don’t fit into my daily routine.
So I was fascinated to learn about Sensoria Fitness and have a chance to interview CEO Davide Vigano at the Fall 2014 Health 2.0 Conference in Northern California recently. Sensoria has figured out how to make textile sensors. And, he says, they are injecting them into things that people want to wear, such as running socks and sports bras and shirts. Because the sensors are textile, the garments are comfortable and can be treated like other items of clothing that we have…that is, they can be tossed into the washing machine when they get dirty.
Sensoria’s first products are geared for runners (perhaps because Davide is a runner?). The Sensoria socks have sensors placed over the metatarsals on the right and the left and an additional sensor over the heel. These sensors communicate, via an electronic anklet that you have to wear on one ankle, with the Sensoria Fitness companion app to let runners know whether they are heel striking, over-striding, or running at the wrong cadence—all errors that can increase impact forces on the body—not a good thing if you want to be able to run into middle- and old-age. The app’s virtual coach can relay this information to you as you walk or run so you can correct the problem on the fly.
The Sensoria sports bra and running shirt have heart rate sensors woven into them. Combining data from all the sensors allows the app to count steps, track cadence, distance, GPS track, ascent/descent, pace, estimate calories burned and much more. Very cool. The only suggestion for improvement that I have is to ditch the clunky anklet or at least make it much much smaller.
What’s in the future?
According to Davide, the sky is the limit. The company is already talking to a variety of innovators who are interested in using the Sensoria technology to develop textile wearables for fall detection, pressure sensors to prevent foot ulcers in people with diabetes, training apps for dancing, golf, cycling and, well, let your imagination go wild. If you can weave it, they can make it, and, I suspect, people will wear it. Way to go Sensoria!