Apr 12, 2018
Madison-based Torq Labs will start selling smart leggings for $500
Athletes can get hooked up to all sorts of monitors in labs to see how their body functions.
But Madison-based Torq Labs doesn't think that's the best way to analyze performance.
"Running on a treadmill hooked up to wires — that's not real life," said CEO Julian Holtzman.
Torq Labs has developed smart leggings that can be worn while running, biking or playing soccer away from the confines of a medical building.
The leggings have five sensors: one on the lower back and two on each leg, above and below the knee. The sensors connect through Bluetooth to send data to an app on the wearer's smartphone at the end of each workout. Eventually, Torq Labs would like to develop the program to provide real-time feedback.
The sensors, which slide into pockets in the leggings, can be removed so the pants can be machine-washed.
The leggings with five sensors will cost $500 a pair when the product hits the market this summer, Holtzman said. Torq Labs is taking preorders for the leggings. The feedback from the sensors shares information about the wearer's gait cycle and movement symmetry.
"It’s technical but not so technical that you need a PhD to understand the data," Holtzman said.
The idea for Torq Labs' smart leggings came about after one of Holtzman's soccer players blew out a knee with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Holtzman, a coach at La Follette High School in Madison, worried if he had overtrained the player.
While talking to a friend, Holtzman said he wished there was a way to monitor training.
The goal, Holtzman said, is to prevent injuries with the leggings so they are not needed as a rehabilitation tool.
Holtzman assembled a team of friends with varying experiences to form Torq Labs' group of six co-founders. The team first met in November 2015. By the beginning of 2016, they had a prototype and established a company, Torq Laboratories Inc. Five of the six co-founders graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The sixth went to UW-Milwaukee.
Two of the co-founders, Holtzman and Torq Labs' Chief Operating Officer Justin Swenson, went to Paris last summer to work from the largest startup office in the world, Station F.
Their nine-month stint in France was recorded on camera and can be watched in the documentary series "Foundation." The series, released at the beginning of April, shares the story of four startups at the Station F campus.