Known for it’s cloud-based training plans, the Houston based BSX Athletics has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new wearable device that measures lactic acid in your muscles along with heart rate, pace and cadence when running or biking.
Unlike other wearable devices, the Insight doesn’t go on a wrist. Instead, you wear it near your calf in a compression sock. The Insight then sends data wirelessly to a sports watch using the ANT+ protocol. Currently, ANT+ doesn’t have a standard way to send lactic acid information, so the team at BSX has created a bit of a hack. Though, they’re working on getting the standard updated.
What is Lactic Acid and How Does the Insight Work ?
The BSX Insight was designed and developed by endurance athletes Dustin Freckleton and Nithin Rajan who met at the University of Texas in Houston. If it delivers on its promises, this could be a valuable training and racing tool.
“Lactate Threshold is one of the most common, and THE most effective, performance marker used by competitive coaches and athletes,” says BSX Insight. “For over 50 years it has been the gold standard for performance measurement and has repetitively been shown to be over 95% accurate at predicting race finish order. This means it can be used with near perfect accuracy to personalize the appropriate training intensities of each athlete.”
“When lactic acid starts to build up in the body it does so very dramatically and very quickly,” says BSX Insight.
“This event is known as lactate threshold and it signals a state of imbalance—when the body is starting to depend on less efficient energy sources. Exercise intensities at this level can only be maintained for a short period of time before fatigue and exhaustion occurs.
“Since fatigue and exhaustion are never the goal of an endurance athlete, lactate threshold is an important event to both know and train for.”
The scientific explanation aside, how does the BSX Insight measure your lactate threshold through a wearable sensor?
“The primary sensor is comprised of an LED array that passes light through the muscle belly of the gastrocnemius (also known as the calf muscle), and a detector,” says BSX Insight.
“As the light passes through the muscle tissue, it is reshaped by elements within the tissue (known as chromatophors) to produce a unique signal (similar to a fingerprint) that contains information about the local metabolic activity.
“This profile is then processed by embedded BSX algorithms to analyse identifiable signal features which exist within the profile. When combined together, these are used to accurately generate a lactate threshold curve. Real-time monitoring of this curve allows the athlete to always know where they are along that curve and their proximity to crucial training thresholds.”
Here’s BSX’s in-camera explanation:
If proven to be an effective device, the Insight could be a valuable training tool. Especially, if an athlete trains by heart rate – targeting "zones’ based on a percentage of his or her maximum heart rate. An athlete’s lactate threshold is usually estimated at between 80% and 90% of maximum heart rate in trained endurance athletes. So, presumably, the higher you can raise your lactate threshold, the faster you can perform. With that said, the Insight has the potential to help you train more effectively and perform at your maximum sustainable intensity.
BSX’s Kickstarter campaign received $121,897 of pledges, more than doubling its $50,000 target. BSX says that this will enable the brand to take its prototypes to full-scale manufacture, complete the software to enable the BSX Insight to communicate with sports watches and other wearable devices (currently it works with only Garmin), integrate with social and training platforms like Strava, Facebook and Twitter, and to reduce the size of the design.
BSX aims to begin manufacturing in September and deliver the Insight in the final quarter of this year.
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