Interview: Sensoria’s smart socks will up your running technique

When someone says fitness tracker, you are likely to think of a device you wear on your wrist or strap around your chest. This is despite the fact that feet are the most logical place from which to monitor steps, distance and other associated metrics.

There are over 36 million active runners in the US and over 60% get injured each year. Apart from normal features like counting steps and calories burned, trackers that are located on your feet have the advantage of being able to gauge how well you run. They do this through parameters related to your running form such as foot landing, cadence and time on the ground. Metrics which you cannot get from wrist based trackers.

Essential reading: Tracking fitness through your feet

While this market is still in its infancy, there are a few players that have already come out with intelligent trackers for your feet. Sensoria is one of these.

sensoria socks

We sat down with co-founder of the company Davide Vigano, to discuss Sensoria and where the market for health and fitness technology is heading.

Activity trackers started off as chunky and unattractive devices aimed at fitness freaks and technology buffs. How has this changed over the past year or two?

“The wearable device marketplace has grown significantly over the last two years. In terms of the Innovation Adoption Curve, activity trackers have moved from the Innovators and Early Adopters into the Early Majority stage. In order for this to occur, the offerings need to appeal to a greater mass of individuals which usually equates to more favorable pricing, additional options in terms of colors, sizes, features and benefits”.

The race to make running shoes an integral part of the Internet of Things seems to be lagging behind. Why is this?

“With Smart watches, it is a one size fits all so there is less inventory to produce and manage. The watches also last longer than shoes and retail margins on shoes and watches are very different. However, with Sensoria® Core and our proprietary and affordable sensors the capability exists but it takes time.”

What are some of the advantages of purchasing trackers that are located on your feet?

“When Sensoria created the Smart Sock, we were primarily interested in the running enthusiast. We wanted to enable the runner with key metrics that not only told them how far and how fast they ran, but how well they ran. In order to do this, we would need to measure cadence, foot landing and foot contact and so we chose to embed the sensors into the plantar area of the foot for better accuracy and reliability.”

Who do you see as your main competition? Do you see the mainstream companies moving more into this area in the coming years?

“Our main competitors are OMSignal and Hexo Skin and the like who are also making smart garments utilizing sensor technology. Yes, as it will become a necessity to compete in this space given the projected growth of the wearables marketplace. Please see graph below from Gartner in regards to the opportunity.  As you can see, the smart garment product category might not be the biggest but it is poised for exponential growth far outweighing the other categories in the next year.”

sensoria socks

The market is now awash with manufacturers each fighting for a slice of the wearable pie. A flood of statistics is churned out by these devices but, for the most part, it is left down to the users to sift through this data and draw meaningful conclusions.

It seems to us – the next step is going beyond just displaying health metrics and providing analysis of the data. Would you agree that your device goes beyond just providing statistics – and actually offers practical analysis?

“Yes, our new smart upper garments track heart rate metrics with real-time AI coaching. With our Smart Socks, we are able to provide you with real-time feedback on metrics such as cadence, foot landing and foot contact to not only increase performance but to reduce injuries.  With our virtual shoe closet, we provide you with performance metrics based upon different running shoes. We provide you with recommendations on which shoes to use and when you might want to invest in a new pair. As you can see, Sensoria is clearly the market leader in terms of innovation. We provide real-time biometric sensing data that the everyday athlete or the professional can use to course correct, improve performance and/or reduce injuries.”

“In the health care scenarios, we can utilize the Smart Socks with Bluetooth wireless anklet to help reduce the time it takes to complete rehabilitation. With Sensoria® Walk, this is true in elderly patients, patients with gait impairments or those with short stride lengths, even those using a cane or a walker.”

sensoria socksSensoria’s flagship product are its Smart Socks and Anklet. These are garments infused with 100% textile pressure sensors to inform you in real-time when you are striking with the heel or the ball of your foot.

The socks connect to a light weight anklet which wirelessly relays data during your run to the Sensoria Fitness mobile app. You will then get information in real-time such as your cadence and running form.

The smartphone app monitors your run in much more detail detail and provides you with a foot heat-map as well as information on your foot landing, contact time on the ground, cadence, pace, heart rate (when connected with the Sensoria HRM or other devices), speed, distance, altitude gains, GPS track and many other paramenters. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track your progress.

sensoria socksHow do you see the market evolving in the next 3-5 years, both in terms of your niche market and the global market for wearables?

“At Sensoria, The Garment is the Computer™. Smart garments can become the next ultra-personal wearable computer. The new Sensoria® Core electronics module is the latest addition to the Sensoria technology platform.  This new embeddable technology will accelerate the integration of a broad spectrum of sensors with footwear and apparel products.  The wearable market will need to deliver products which have bio metric sensing capabilities which are ubiquitous to the human eye. In addition, we see ever-increasing opportunities in terms of health care applications. You can view full details of current applications here http://www.sensoriafitness.com/healthcare

What’s next for Sensoria? Any new products we can look forward to in the near future?

“Sensoria is committed to innovation and we are always looking to better and to refine our current offerings to meet the ever-changing and developing needs of our customers. You will definitely want to join us at CES 2017 in Las Vegas to learn more about what’s next for Sensoria! Booth #44930 at the Sands!”

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Sensoria Fitness Socks and Anklet
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