The fitness tracker market is in a period of great flux. Despite a tough 2017 with major studies questioning the accuracy of these devices, the wearable market is still estimated to almost double over the next few years. Looking to carve a slice of this pie is Humon, whose Hex fitness wearable can measure how an athlete's muscles are using oxygen in real time.
While wearable technology is increasingly offering us a vast array of real-time biological data, it's fair to ask how relevant much of this information is to the everyday person. The team at Humon cleverly decided to target its new type of wearable at those who can most benefit from such niche information – endurance athletes.
"The wearable market for athletes to date has been dependent on measuring heart rate, which is a very limited indicator of fatigue and workout intensity," says CEO and co-founder of Humon, Alessandro Babini. "By measuring the amount of oxygen that a muscle group is using, athletes can reach the optimum workout intensity level without exceeding their limits."
Like the bulkier Moxy sensor, the Hex uses LEDs to emit near-infrared light into a person's tissue to measure a muscle's hemoglobin saturation. Overall muscle oxygenation (SmO2) can then be calculated, allowing an athlete to gauge the level of exertion they should engage. Initially starting out as a MIT research project, Humon claims the Hex is the first clinically validated wearable to use optical sensors to noninvasively monitor the oxygen levels in the muscle.
Humon Hex is initially designed to be worn on the thigh, as the quad is the main muscle that powers running and cycling motions. This makes the device useful for a variety of serious endurance athletes, but the makers do suggest that some athletes are successfully using the wearable on other muscles, such as weightlifters on their biceps.
The Hex communicates its data in real time via Bluetooth to either an iPhone or Android app, or a compatible Garmin smartwatch. Preorders are open now with each device priced at US$275 and set to ship at the end of February.
Take a look at the Humon Hex in the video below.
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