This summer I wrote about a funding round for Athos, a startup creating high-tech workout gear that looks inside your muscles to gather data on your athletic performance. It claimed to have taken electromyography, a technology commonly used in hospitals and professional training centers, and made it into something small, wearable, and inexpensive.
Last week I got the chance to try out Athos' first product, a pair of shorts. They have 16 sensors embedded throughout to track my muscles, and a bluetooth "core" that communicates with the app. You pay $199 for the core, which can then be attached to any of the company's shorts or shirts, each of which retail for $99.
All the gear was comfortable, and I didn't notice the technology at all. The app worked in real time and I could actually understand and learn from the data it gathered. I tested it out at the Mandell School in upper Manhattan with a little help from Jermaine O'Neal, a 6'11'' six-time NBA All-Star, who is an investor in Athos.
For now Athos is best suited to measuring static weight lifting exercises where you do a series of repetitions, but electromyography has the potential to look at all kinds of interesting activity in your body, from muscle exertion and lactic acid levels to heart-rate and oxygenation. Athos seems like the first step on the path to smart clothes that will feel no different than ordinary apparel, but will be able to provide a wealth of valuable data on how well your body is working and why.
* All Verge dunks were performed on a 7-foot-high hoop. No NBA All-Stars were genuinely posterized in the making of this video.