Humon has announced the launch of a clinically validated wearable that measures muscle oxygen levels.
A number of years in the making, Humon Hex is a device that acts as your personal coach. Strap it on to your thigh and you’ll get real-time audio and visual feedback that helps you understand the limits of your body. It does this by using near-infrared spectroscopy to measure the hemoglobin saturation in the quadriceps. This muscle was chosen as typically its exerted the most during endurance sports.
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Oxygen is fuel needed by muscles for energy. This is why monitoring oxygen levels in the muscles is perhaps the best physiological indicator of an athlete’s exertion.
We’ve written before about aerobic and anaerobic training. With aerobic training, oxygen from breathing is filtered down to the muscles to give them energy. With anaerobic training, the body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the supply available through breathing. At this point glycogen (sugar) is also used by muscles as fuel. But this effort is unsustainable and you’re going hit the wall in terms of performance pretty quickly.
With the science lesson out of the way, it becomes clearer how Humon Hex can help. Knowing information on oxygen saturation allows you to warm-up properly, it lets you know your threshold so you can adjust your pace, and it lets you know when you are sufficiently recovered for a new training session. This essentially provides you with the tools that allow you to maximize your effort while avoiding over-training and potential injury.
“The wearable market for athletes to date has been dependent on measuring heart rate, which is a very limited indicator of fatigue and workout intensity,” said Alessandro Babini, CEO and co-founder of Humon.
“By measuring the amount of oxygen that a muscle group is using, athletes can reach the optimum workout intensity level without exceeding their limits.”
In addition to the accompanying smartphone app and web dashboard, the data is synced in real-time with a number of running watches. For example, Garmin sports watch owners can download the Humon app on Garmin Connect. While you’re training, the app will show you colored training zones so you can gauge your effort level in real-time.
- Green is when the oxygen delivery and consumption in muscle is balanced meaning you can keep going at the current pace.
- Orange is when you are approaching your limit. The muscle has started consuming more oxygen than is being delivered.
- Red is when the muscle is consuming significantly more oxygen than is being delivered. You are in the anaerobic area.
- Blue is when the athlete’s muscles are recovering. You have slowed down enough so that oxygen delivery is greater than consumption.
About two years ago, the company began shipping a prototype device to professional athletes all over the US. Humon Hex is now available to all.
Retailing for a rather pricey $275 on Humon, the wearable can also be pre-ordered on Amazon. Shipping is set to begin on February 28th. If you happen to be in Los Vegas between the 9th and 12th of January, check out their stand on CES 2018.
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