November 30, 2013 - As much excitement as there may be about wearable sensors, most of the activity
tracking devices today are pretty lame.
That’s because they’re often restricted to a certain body part — usually the wrist — and have limited access to what’s going on with the rest of the body, like heart rate, specific muscle activation, calorie intake, or even what the legs are doing.
The fiery activated threads are a visualization; the Athos
clothing won’t literally turn the wearer into a girl on fire.
The next step in wearables may be for devices to move beyond jewelry and onto the rest of our bodies. But what’s gained in accuracy may be dampened by higher prices and lower convenience. There’s also the simple challenge of the washing machine. After all, physical activity leads to sweating.
A company called Athos that launched this week had hoped to make garments with electronics embedded in them. When I met the company more than a year ago, the prototype had spiderwebs of wires glued onto it. Each shirt was going to cost something like $300. So the team revised its vision to make a wireless module that can be slipped into pockets on custom apparel so it lies flat on the skin.
That’s not cheap either. Preorders for delivery to U.S. customers in the summer of 2014 cost $99 for tops, $99 for bottoms, and $199 for the Athos Core Module.
“We are targeting individuals who are committed to fitness, ones who go out of their way to schedule in a workout, a ride or a yoga session,” said Athos founder DJ Jayalath, via email. “With regard to the price — it can be compared to being less than the price of five sessions with a personal trainer, or hundred dollars more than a Nike FuelBand and a pair of compression shorts.”
The Athos workout gear has sensors throughout that pick up on muscle exertion from the chest, shoulders, arms, back, quads, hamstrings and glutes, plus heart rate and breathing. The module insert transmits that info over Bluetooth
to iPhones and iPads (no Android yet).