Wearable Tech World Feature Article
October 10, 2014

Making Socks Smarter with Sensoria

Wearable tech has brought incredible new products to the fore, from watches with powerful new levels of connectivity to glasses that can display maps and directions directly in front of the user. But sometimes, there are developments that truly boggle the mind, and Sensoria has to be on the list of the strangest, yet most impressive, such developments around.

Sensoria is a new kind of fitness tracker designed specifically for the new runner, and unlike many fitness trackers—but actually similar to some like the Flyfit and the recently-discovered Universole—it works not on the wrist, but on the feet. Rather, near the feet, as the Sensoria is an ankle bracelet that attaches to a specialized running sock. The two together work in concert, measuring things like how long a foot stays in contact with the ground, just where the foot makes contact, and details on things like how to improve form and to keep pacing regular. The Sensoria can detect things like irregular stride and failure in overall running form—one particular feedback response is “You're failing to land on ball”, issued when the runner doesn't heel-strike consistently in a 30-second frame—to help improve the overall performance of a runner.

There are some issues with the device—reports suggest it has a tendency to disconnect while running, owing in part to the design involving a series of magnets to keep the system connected—but even in the midst of such reports, word is that the device works well, even with a few minor flaws in place. The device is said to do much better on flat ground than it does on hills; while Sensoria does come with mechanisms to keep track of elevation, it doesn't move very quickly in changing advice to runners at higher elevations. For instance, the device was particularly strident in telling one runner to maintain pace...while proceeding up a 30 degree incline. Serious runners are, at last report, the ones to most likely get value out of this device, and those interested will be available to the general public starting in the first quarter of 2015 at a price of $149.

Some suggest that the real value here, however, will be in using this as a supplement for a full-on coach rather than a replacement for same. There's also some report that Sensoria technology may be put to use in a variety of other applications ranging from other sports—foot placement is vital in terms of preventing injury in exercise—to even shoe shopping, as the Sensoria reportedly does well in measuring which shoes fit best while walking.

That's the really exciting part about Sensoria; while it's likely to have stiff competition as a fitness tracking system—there are already a host of those—its versatility and ability to expand into other fields will make this one tough to beat in the long term. Even for just the shoe sizing alone, this could be a winner, but throw in the extra sports, the injury prevention, and the intermediary coaching and the Sensoria is a clear market-leader, with a form factor that has most of the competition beat almost immediately.

Only time will really tell just how well this fares in the market, but even amid stiff competition, there's enough here to make this a very worthwhile package. There may be some issues involved in this one, but the Sensoria has plenty going for it, and with a little retooling, may well overcome many of these issues before it even hits market.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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