We all know that your muscles need oxygen to work, right? While heart rate monitors have been commonplace in cycling for years, a Norweigan company called SweetzPot recently decided every athlete should be able to obtain information about their oxygen uptake… without visiting a laboratory.
SweetzPot’s FLOW wearable device combines a breathing sensor with a heart rate monitor, and provides real-time feedback so athletes can optimize their oxygenation. The brand seeks to answer the question “Can conscious control and awareness of breathing increase physical and psychological performance in an athlete?”
It seems some people believe it will: FLOW claimed first prize in the wearable technology category at the Sports Tech World Cup – Nordic Edition, and is now seeking funding through Kickstarter to complete development and commence production.
The FLOW device is attached to a chest band, and relays its information to your smartphone or smartwatch. If you want to use a phone to monitor your breathing while riding, you’ll need to have it mounted somewhere you can see it.
The FLOW measures your ‘minute ventilation’, which is the volume of air you expire expressed in litres per minute. The device also measures heart rate and heart rate variability, and perhaps most importantly detects your ventilatory threshold (VT) to identify your athletic ‘sweet spot’.
By measuring the expansion and contraction of inspiratory muscles, FLOW determines your ventilatory threshold (VT), which is the point where breathing becomes laboured and starts to hamper athletic performance. The FLOW’s companion app maps out your breathing pattern in real time, so you can see what you’re doing and adjust your efforts to stay just under your VT.
The app visually displays how you inhale, hold and exhale air, and how your breathing pattern co-ordinates with your movements. After your activity you can review your metric data and other information like duration, distance traveled, average speed, plus average heart rate and flow figures.
The app (iOS/Android) will be compatible with other mobile devices and smartwatches via Bluetooth, plus the device supports Garmin Connect and Strava. The company is also keen to give developers an open-source platform to create more apps or features for the FLOW- For those interested there is a FLOW SDK kit available via Kickstarter which includes access to SweetzPot’s developer center.
The FLOW sensor weighs just 27g, and its dimensions are 77x43x17mm. A CR2032 button-cell battery should keep it alive for a year, if you use it for seven hours per week (which equates to 364 hours). The device also carries a waterproof rating of IP7.
While the full retail price will rise to $299 USD, Kickstarter supporters can currently snag one for $169. The first FLOW devices are expected to begin shipping in August. Check out the Kickstarter campaign page here.