It’s now more than month and a half into the New Year, and many resolutions are starting to get left behind. Gym memberships are being used less as promotional prices end, yoga studios clear out as new members find other ways to spend their Saturday mornings and those who never found the rhythm can’t seem to make their way back to Zumba studio.
But running is a little easier to stick with. Besides a few up-front costs like shoes and shorts, it’s a free option that requires little more than a sidewalk to work up a sweat. For those looking to up their running game, there are a few options to track your jogs for better results, whether it’s running a marathon or just staying fit.
One of those options is Redmond-based Sensoria’s wearable garment system. The company has refined its smart socks over the years and last year came out with a heart rate monitor that’s embedded in a shirt or workout bra to tell a fuller picture of your workout routine.
Fitness devices from the Fitbit to the Apple Watch and even the simple, generic pedometer have been giving us a level of insight into our workouts for years now. But collecting data is just a small part of becoming a fitter person. Putting that data to use, whether it’s altering your workout or just stepping up your goals, is still an area ripe for disruption.
With Sensoria’s solution, you’re getting a lot more data, as I discovered in my testing of the device. There’s still not much you can do with all that data if you’re a novice runner. However, for people who understand what cadence is and know the value of proper running form, Sensoria provides some great feedback on your run with just a few simple—if expensive—pieces of hardware.
The complete Sensoria setup is $399 and comes with two pairs of the sensor-laden socks, two anklets to track the data from the sensors, and a t-shirt with a snap-on Bluetooth heart rate monitor. Women can opt for a $389 version instead, which has a sports bra instead of a t-shirt. The socks are also available separately, starting at $199 for one anklet and a pair of socks.
Setting up the Sensoria system was really simple. After charging the anklets (the heart rate monitor runs off a replaceable watch battery that lasts for 8 months), you just put on your socks and shirt, attach the cuff-like anklets to your socks (they hold on with magnets and a fold of the socks) and snap the heart rate monitor to your shirt. Then just pair your phone and the trackers with a tap from within the Sensoria app, and you should be able to see the pressure on each foot.
You then start your run. As you run, you can listen to music, with the Sensoria virtual running coach occasionally popping in to tell you how you’re doing. Depending on the goals you set up before heading out for your run, the coach will tell you your cadence, heart rate and distance.
After your run, you can dive a little deeper into data, seeing how things like heart rate, cadence and pace changed over time. But you’re also able to see how each foot landed (displayed as a percentage of ball or heel landings), which is the real benefit of these socks. While all that data is nice, it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do with it on your next run.
Sensoria does have a little “Video Clinic” area in the app, which has a few clips on why running on the balls of your feet is generally considered better, but the app doesn’t provide a lot of feedback about how you can improve your jogs.
Expert runners may still find the system useful though. Users can build a shoe library to see how different shoes affect their run. And keeping an eye on your form, but over the course of a run and over the long term, can help you spot how running through different areas and during different seasons can change your workout.
As for how the items feel, there’s not much to complain about. Sure, the socks are a little longer than your average no-show running socks. And the anklet can be a little goofy looking, especially when you fold the long socks over them to keep them from falling off during your run. But this kind of data needs some way to connect with your phone, so you’ll have to suck it up a little.
As for care, the socks are washable up to 60 times, and you can get two new pairs for $49 when the sensors finally wear out. The anklet is good for about six hours of tracking per charge, and has plenty of standby time if you take a week off running.
Setup is easy and the tracking is robust, with far more data collected than with the average fitness tracker. Before sinking nearly $400 into the system, you may want to consider whether you’ll have any use for all that data. It may be better to hook up with a running group or contact a running coach to improve your form and give you tips on what to look out for before investing in this system. But overall, Sensoria has built a solid wearable system.