The two quickly became friends and bonded over their similar situations. Late night conversations led to a clarifying revelation: Their injuries could have been avoided.
They realized that, had their performance been more closely monitored while they were in action, they could have improved small flaws in form before they compounded into strains and tears.
In late August of last year, they began exploring the potential for a solution.
The Birth of BioMetrix
After reading over 70 scientific journals on stride and gait, Dumanyan and Levac identified the critical metrics involved. Pronation, for example, is a measure of inward or outward roll of the foot during walking or running and can lead to certain problems. If runners consistently track this metric during practice, they would know right away if they were moving in ways that were potentially harmful and adjust accordingly.
The two came up with the idea of a wearable device that athletes could place on the back of their heel and small of their back, and use to track vital measurements like pronation, hip drop, and stride length. Unlike personal trainers who help you occasionally analyze your form from the training room, this device could be worn at all times, including during training or a race.
The only problem was that they weren’t exactly sure how to physically build such a device since neither had previous experience in electrical or computer engineering.
But they didn’t give up. Dumanyan joined a fellowship program at the Smart Home, a residential community at Duke for engineers to develop and design products for academic credit. She also sought help at the Innovation Co-Lab, where experts provided technical assistance and prototyping resources. Through these programs, along with advice and guidance from professors, Dumanyan learned the basic electronics needed to turn some gyroscope and accelerometer chips into the device they envisioned (watch some early testings here).
By March, Dumanyan and Levac had their first prototype and a name for the business they were building around it—BioMetrix.
Where Are They Now?
Now, the pair are about to begin piloting the technology with a group of Duke athletes and analyzing the field data for common trends. They’ve also partnered with Global Technology Investments, a company of international correspondents in the US, Hong Kong and India that invests in promising tech companies and lends their services in areas including business development, manufacturing, and software development. As a part of the partnership, BioMetrix receives access to GTI’s sales and accounting expertise, while also getting the critical assistance in engineering the device more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Beyond the interactive app interface that they are building to connect to the device, they are also exploring other possibilities, such as a live coaching and personalized warnings that can be set by athletes and trainers.
This past month, BioMetrix has secured a partnership with Motion Analysis Corporation, the leading company in motion capture for 3D passive optical motion capture systems. By integrating its sensor solution into Motion Analysis’s platform, BioMetrix will be able to expand its offerings to not just a handful, but all metrics of an athlete’s form.
The team plans to raise money by launching a Kickstarter campaign by the end of the year. Perks for contributors will range from a sweat wicking T-shirt, to the device itself, to a personalized app widget and even personal coaching sessions with some of BioMetrix’s pro-athlete supporters.
Dumanyan is excited about what this could mean for runners.