Pumping iron in the 21st century. It’s still about technique and strength, but it’s also about technology
Sam Hollenbach is wearing a shirt developed by sports clothing manufacturer Under Armour and technology company Zephyr. It’s called the E39 and while it won’t turn you into the bionic man, it will help you to train like one. Sensors embedded in the fabric transmit biometric data to a “bug” affixed to the front. The data can be stored or transmitted wirelessly in real-time to a computer.
Under Armour’s (NYSE: UA) Kevin Haley says the E39 will give athletes and their coaches a new perspective on performance.
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Says Haley, “It’s very reliable. It was actually developed by Zephyr for use by U.S. Special Forces, where people’s lives are at stake, and so the data is not only extremely accurate, but it’s also streamed at a very high rate, so you’re sampling the heart rate and the breathing rate and accelerometry at a much higher rate than normal recreational gym equipment would ever use.”
Julio Jones is a college football star, NFL prospect and a promotional face for Under Armour’s new product. But the company says the shirt can improve the performances of all kinds of athletes in many different sports, both on the field and in training.
For NFL Quarterback and current Under Armour engineer Sam Hollenbach explains, “Well, I get the data and I look it over with my coach. He looks at how hard I’m working. He looks at my intensity and my effort levels, and we match that up based on what I’m training for. So, if I’m in the off-season trying to get stronger, I know that I need to work harder during some workouts. And if I’m in the season getting ready for a game, I know I need to dial back a little bit. My coach helps me understand that.”
Haley, the company’s senior vice president of innovation says, “Trainers, especially, have been very interested in using it as a coaching tool, where they can say, ‘You know what? You’re swinging your arm a little wide here, which I couldn’t see, but the accelerometry graph is showing me a lot of lateral motion, and I want you moving forward and back.’ And so they then are able to coach the athlete, so in the next one they are running more efficiently.”
Under Armour says the E39 will be targetted towards professional and college athletes before it becomes available to consumers in 2012. And the likely price ? For now, Under Armour is keeping that data to itself.
Bottom line: Sporting apparel company Under Armour is preparing to launch a new high-tech shirt it says will revolutionize sports training. The E39 Shirt can measure an athlete’s heart rate, breathing rate and other biometric data in real-time without wires, electrodes or laboratory equipment.