This Wearable Is a Running Lab in Your Shoe
With a little help from technology, runners can measure many metrics of their runs. There are countless wearables, gadgets, and apps that deliver various features that help track runs. But now running smart just got a whole lot smarter. RUNVI is a smart insole that uses sensors and AI technology to provide athletes with precise data that can make them run faster, stronger and injury free.
“We can see not only the quantitive data, but also the qualitative data so that means we can see how many steps you do, and so on very accurately. We can also see if you are running right or running wrong,” Daniel von Waldthausen, co-founder of the wearable company NWTNLabs responsible for the product told RunnerClick. “And if you are running wrong, we can tell you how to run right.”
RUNVI allows users to tap into their runs like never before. The insole transforms any running shoe—yes, your favorite Brooks—into smart sneakers. It then uses training science with its sensor technology to essentially become a running lab that the user takes with them each time they pound the pavement (or treadmill).
“The sensor technology is very thin and flexible, and you can kind of put it anywhere you want to,” van Waldthausen said. “We had the idea to put in in the insole and create this digital version of a professional running coach.”
It includes 30 pressure sensors and two accelerometers that provides real-time tracking. NWTNLab’s CTO Marco Salvioli revealed this was the sweet spot as far as the number of sensors goes to allow the Berlin-based startup to measure the force distribution and the change between the foot and the ground in the most accurate way while also providing the best information.
There may be other wearables out there that include sensors in the heels, but these products can only track when contact happens, not the proper distribution of pressure.
“The big difference from the other trackers out there like armbands and wristbands and watches is we can really see the biomechanics of the step,” Salvioli said. “We can see how much pressure you are generating at the sole. From there we can see if you are really doing your step right.
The smart insoles are water-resistant and made with a breathable fabric. Insert them into the shoe, download the app and start running. The insoles themselves are ergonomic and go unnoticed in the shoe. The insole has what is called the CORE, which can be removed and recharged via a USB. Training mode gives a battery life of eight hours, whereas the everyday mode has a battery life of about 25 days.
The wearable then starts learning about how the user is running. Users must download RUNVI’s accompanying app, with its metrics and data collected by the insoles sent in real-time via Bluetooth. The user will then be notified if any changes need to be made when it comes to their form, speed, etc.
The system is only compatible with iOS, for now, so runners need to have an iPhone or Apple Watch.
Tracking the Run
The app tracks running, walking, cycling and climbing stairs. It has the ability to monitor distance, speed, time, altitude and tracks the route using GPS.
RUNVI measures pressure, weight, and what the company calls Power. This is the company’s power-meter that sees how much energy is used to run and how much is wasted. It measures not only when the takeoff happens, but also the force exchange from pushing off the group to the landing of the stride.
“We are the most accurate tracker on the market because we are tracking where the action is happening,” van Waldthausen said.
RUNVI then provides feedback (notification or audio alert) so that the runner can learn to use their energy more efficiently. It also helps the runner improve technique and control their pace. And for an elite athlete, this could prevent them from hitting the wall.
It provides live feedback for the following metrics: power, foot strike, cadence, impact, and asymmetry (when it comes to ground contact time). Along with real-time stats, users can also see a summary of the runs with averages for each metrics.
A Running Coach
RUNVI provides coaching in real-time either via notifications or audio in the user’s headphones. For example, if RUNVI detects the runner is heel striking, it can tell the user to take shorter strides to fix this.
It takes things a step further by providing exercises that are made to help eliminate the problem.
“We want to digitize the professional running coach,” van Waldthausen said. “There are three things it’s doing with you. First, it helps to enhance performance. Second, it helps to optimize your running technique, and it provides background information.”
This information is educational content called Running Academy that allows users to accessing videos help them learn about running terms, common problems and how to fix them.
Users are able to set their goals. RUNVI then provides a static training plan that consists of what the user needs to do in order to achieve their goals. But personal training gets even more—well, personal—since it also produces adaptive training plans thanks to machine learning tech. The more the user runners, the smarter it gets. In turn, it further helps to enhance performance and improve technique as the runner progresses.
RUNVI is targeted for more ambitious runners, with brand ambassadors including former Olympic runner Jonas Plass and former Puma CEO Franz Koch. However, it is for anyone who wants to improve their running.
Getting the RUNVI for Yourself
RUNVI launched June 12 via a Kickstarter campaign. Runners can get their smart insoles for a very early bird price of 99 Euros ($119) (retail 199 Euros or $234). The product is expected to ship this summer.
These smart insoles provide a way for runners to get an in-depth look at the way the run in a way that hasn’t been done before. It brings an entire lab of data to the runner’s fingertips, and a running coach in their ear.
Having a running coach is a great asset But they might only be with the runner for an hour a week and then the runner is left on their own. Adding this technology can improve running technique in a precise way that is there on demand—or as van Waldthausen said, ”We can always take care of you.”
feature image courtesy of NWTN Labs