Mar 25, 2018
Over the last decade, athletic clothing designers have increasingly incorporated tech into garments as a way to enhance their performance against sweat, and wear and tear,
Over the last decade, athletic clothing designers have increasingly incorporated tech into garments as a way to enhance their performance against sweat, and wear and tear, but a new venture coming out of Madison is exploring how “smart clothing” can help prevent injuries in athletes.
Torq Labs, launched in 2016, is developing a smart legging that they say will help prevent and decrease knee and hip injuries among athletes. Their leggings have pockets for small, light-weight sensors, which fall above and below the knee on each leg. The sensors monitor movement and activity, and search for changes and inconsistencies in the wearer's running strides, pace and overall gait. The sensors then wirelessly send that information to an accompanying mobile app that helps analyze the data to identify any patterns that suggest an injury is likely to occur.
Torq was co-founded by Julian Holtzman, CEO, who said he got the idea for the smart leggings while coaching high school soccer and training a goalie who later suffered a knee injury.
“What donned on me was that I didn’t know I was pushing him too hard,” Holtzman said. “How could I even know if my training regimens were putting him below 100 percent before the game?”
Torq’s leggings, which are made out of eco-certified fabrics and materials, are manufactured in Paris by Hyperbase. Holtzman said the product is ideal for college and professional athletes, and can ultimately cut costs for athletic programs and organizations.
“If [athletes] can see something coming, and they can be proactive about an injury, then they’ll be able to compete on race day,” Holtzman said.
Additionally, the data collected from Torq’s sensors could be valuable in scientific settings for clinical studies and other data analysis.
“If you’re trying to study the effects on a basketball player, or a runner or a soccer player, but you hook them up to wires and run them on a treadmill, that’s not real life,” Holtzman said. “Our way of doing it allows them to get a sense of how they’re moving in the real world.”
Torq is currently taking pre-orders on the leggings and expects to fulfill them by the end of this summer. So far, they have received 25 orders for the leggings, which cost $500 a piece. Torq is also currently developing a line of tops to go with the leggings that will be available later this year as well. The startup will only sell their products on their website at first, but Holtzman said they could explore other retail avenues in the future.
Torq’s team of nine works out of Discovery to Product, a University of Wisconsin, Madison research foundation and co-working space