Kinematix is poised to do just that with the TUNE, a foot wearable that pairs with your smartphone. With prototypes in the works, they aim to bring the wearable to completion with a little crowdfunding help: their Kickstarter campaign launches on July 14, 2015. What's more, the company behind the TUNE isn't a newcomer to monitoring bio-movement: Kinematix already has 8 years of experience in bio-sensing and several wearable products on the market.
Data and the Kinematix TUNE
Importantly, the device will also report heel-contact time, ground-contact time and flight time. This will help runners distinguish the time between foot landing, foot propulsion and the next foot landing -- whereas typical running watches only report the entire time between footfalls as a single flight time without further distinction. Why does this matter? Ground contact time may be a critical metric to focus on for improving one's running mechanics; research published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that ground contact time, as opposed to other metrics, correlated significantly with both running economy and running speed. (Nummela ea. (2007); International Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. 28 No.8)
TUNE will also provide several additional metrics in line with those of emerging foot wearables, including duration of activity, stride rate, stride length. But unlike other emerging foot wearables, it aims to offer additional data on top of that -- in line with what a running watch would: splits, pace, speed, distance, steps, pairing with a heart rate monitor, and route-mapping and position (via smartphone GPS).
Training and the TUNE
The customized training plan will include exercises to help strengthen key muscle groups, work on left-right leg symmetry, target key movements for running mechanics, reinforce proper foot striking technique, and more. The app will not only specify the exercises but will demonstrate how to execute them with proper form.
A post-run analysis will show the evolution of the runner’s technique for a given run and over time. This provides the runner with engaging insight into their long-term progress.
Form Factor and Phone Compatibility
My outlook on sport-specific wearables
I've found that sport-specific wearables serve as a useful supplement to fitness trackers that only monitor general daily activity level. Both are useful: the latter, generic fitness tracker, serves as a reminder -- or even a wakeup call -- to be active on a regular basis and can help you form and cement new, healthier daily habits.
The former, sport-specific wearable, is a tool for a focused type of improvement and learning. Among other benefits, this focused learning can help you train more intelligently, which can translate to more efficient athletic improvement. In sports where you have prior experience or are at a high level of performance, such devices can help you optimize each training session or see subtle mechanical problems that might be holding you back; In sports where you have only a beginner's experience, such devices can help you learn correct form the first time around and provide the guidance and oversight that helps you more quickly get started in a new direction.
In short, I'm intrigued by the TUNE, and look forward to seeing what they bring to the table.