Your Personal Running Coach
A start-up company from ESA’s business incubator in Bavaria has developed a training app to help runners to exercise in a healthy way, and to reduce injuries from over-training.
Drawing on ergonomic sensors inside a super-thin, textile insole and satnav tracking of running path and distance, the app continuously monitors activity and guides the runner on techniques and how safe it is to push the body.
“Two thirds of all runners face injuries, pain or lack of motivation and stop their training as a consequence of running too fast or too long, or pushing themselves too much,” says Benedikt Seitz, one of five founders of evalu, hosted at ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Bavaria, Germany.
“We are all passionate athletes and the idea for our evalu.run app came from our enthusiasm for sports and the wish to reach the people who so far have seen running as troublesome.”
The five founders have brought together their technical expertise as engineers in medical technology, micro- and sensory technology, biomechanics, and product development, to develop the app.
“Our evalu.run is the world’s first running app that can tell athletes – based on their body, biomechanics and skills – how fast to run. Its sensor constantly monitors the runner to provide feedback and guidance during training,” adds Benedikt.
“The science behind it has been around for many years. We have put this together as a mobile device that can be used by beginners, enthusiasts and runners with ambitions.”
The key to acquiring precise and high-resolution data on how the runner is performing is the sensor inserted into the thin and flexible sole specially designed for running shoes. It is comfortable, barely detectable and measures the reaction forces from the ground, which are then used by the app to understand the fitness, fatigue, running techniques and skills of the athlete, as well as to identify weaknesses and problems.
The output is compared against a database set up by the company, and a customised training programme is created, with exercises for activating and strengthening muscles. The app can also detect imminent fatigue and recommend rest to avoid over-training.
“The evalu.run running coach shows runners how to structure their training professionally and to guide them towards the next competition,” said Christina Hering, a German Olympic and world championship runner specialising in the 800 m distance.
The start-up has worked for three years to develop their app together with partners such as Adidas. Since August 2016, the company has been hosted in the incubator, part of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme, where it receives technical support for the product development and assistance to grow the business.
“We launched our personal evalu.run coach app in July and the first runners are already enjoying the live guidance and improving their running experience drastically,” says Benedikt.
Initially, we are focusing on runners in Germany. We will also add more services to our app this year, and plan to develop the coach even further, perhaps even for other sports.”