As athletes in the Boston-area begin training for spring’s sporting events, a variety of apps and products can help them track their health and performance. One of these Boston-based fitness options, TYME Wear, offers a shirt which allows athletes to monitor breathing patterns as they work out.
TYME shirts, which will initially go on sale via a company Kickstarter in April or May, contain tiny sensors and an attachment that monitors, tracks, and sends the user breathing-related data.
“It monitors the expansion and contraction of your chest and your abdomen, and it also monitors the body’s movement, posture, and orientation. A lot of that information can tell us about the physical condition or the medical condition of the person,” CEO Arnar Larusson said.
Unlike other fitness devices, which monitor the heartbeat, Larusson explained that certain physical thresholds of the body that are important to athletes can be more accurately measured through breathing rates.
“When you go for a run, you hit certain ventilatory thresholds, the last one being your proverbial wall.” He added that athletes wishing to optimize their workout potential will work up to or stay right at this level.
The garment delivers feedback to the user through vibrations, which occur when a user is falling below, reaching, or surpassing a threshold. It then pushes results to a mobile app during or after the user’s workout.
“You can visualize your data, see your past data, have access to coaching services, and beam everything up to the Cloud where a coach or a medical provider can look over it and give feedback,” Larusson added.
While athletes seem to be the audience with the most need for the product, Larusson explained that TYME has also been working with yoga practitioners to gain more insight on where the product can fit into everyday use.
As yoga practitioners focus on the body’s “relaxation response,” a normal physiological response that happens when breathing slows to six to ten breaths per minute, Larusson says a tool like TYME Wear could potentially help train users to reach this goal as well. “[Relaxation response breathing] has a lot of benefits for your cardiovascular system. You de-stress and reduce a lot of cortisol in your blood, and it has a rejuvenating effect on your central nervous system.”
Larusson, who has a mechanical engineering background, said he conceived of the idea for the product when designing prosthetics for amputees and exoskeletons for soldiers and those with neuromuscular degenerative diseases. After seeing how his previous labs’ expensive medical technology could provided more information about a person’s physiology, Larusson wanted to make this type of technology and its data more accessible to users who wanted to monitor it.
Additionally, Larusson wanted to use the data to help users learn more about their workouts and notice possible overexertion. Because the body normalizes to chronic issues like stress as a survival mechanism, he explained that people can be bad judges of their own physiology. This could potentially cause more serious health issues.
TYME is currently developing tops, but Larusson says that the company is researching the possibility of pants and other clothing.
When it comes to future fitness technologies, Larusson believes health-related monitors will continue to be successful. “I think we’re at an early stage with all of these tracking devices. I think the sensing elements are going to be much more embedded in our daily lives. It’s going to be much more easily accessible to many people through for factors like garments, but also, we’ll continue to see jewelry like FitBit.”
Pamela Bump is a candidate for the Master of Science in Media Ventures at Boston University. After receiving a B.A. for a dual major in Journalism and Communication Studies from Keene State College in 2014, she became the Web Editor and Social Media Expert at Taste for Life Magazine, an alternative health publication. She then served as Copy Editor at The Keene Sentinel, a daily newspaper in Keene, N.H. While editing daily city news and designing pages for print, she also managed, edited, and contributed to a weekly health section.As a Media Ventures student with a passion for health journalism, Pamela hopes to use her time at MedTech to expand storytelling skills, while learning about leadership and innovation in the media-startup industry.
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