Digital running coach tracks more than steps or beats

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As the user runs, Stepp's technology is designed to map out the entire lower limb motion for analysis(Credit: Stepp)

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Those looking to track athletic progress and prowess are likely to turn to a fitness wearable for answers and acumen. But to some users, such devices seem to work better towards creating a diary of numbers than improving personal performance. VST Technology has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a wearable that is equal parts coach and tracker. Stepp is designed to measure running form, motion, and fatigue to offer real-time guidance and post-run suggestions.

Running goals are certainly important to have when one is first starting out. But there may come a point where the quality of how you move is more important than the quantity of steps or distance. Stepp aims to hop that hurdle with a trio of smart sensors that clip to the waist and each shoe. As the user runs, the technology is designed to map out the entire lower limb motion for analysis.

Although Stepp shares a similar vision to the Notch movement tracker, its focus is geared more towards running as opposed to any and all forms of physical activity. Each IP68 water-resistant Stepp sensor packs a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, and 3-axis magnetometer along with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in battery that lasts up to six hours per charge. As a user runs, the sensors track motion, rotation, direction, and acceleration of feet and waist relative to the ground.

The data is communicated to the mobile app (available for iOS and Android) where, combined with a user's basic body info, it goes through an algorithm for analysis. The app is designed to present the results in a meaningful way, covering parameters such as: overall speed, leg swing speed, cadence, impact force, vertical movement, pronation, stride length, running balance, hip tilt, contact angle, contact time, and strike type.

The information provided means to help runners meet goals by allowing them to critically examine overall technique, understand how it affects performance, and change or improve it. Not only does the Stepp app suggest data-driven pre-/post-run drills, lessons, and exercises, but it motivates runners while they're on the go. Although we've seen this kind of real time in-ear coach with the Moov Now and LifeBEAM Vi, Stepp takes the lead by also offering form corrections and fatigue warnings to help prevent injury.

VST Technology's Kickstarter campaign is seeking to fund a US$70,000 goal, with 59 more days to go. Early-bird pledges for Stepp start at $99 in choices of black or white. Each Stepp set includes three sensors, sensor sleeves, and a charging case with retractable USB cable.

The team behind Stepp claims to have developed prototypes that have been undergoing beta testing. So if testing, design, and production go according to schedule, backers can expect shipments to start as early as July, 2017.

Source: Stepp

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