When precision leads to meaningful.
By: Pascal Fortier, Biosignal scientist, PhD in Neuroscience
In order to create the Ultimate Sports Bra, the makers at OMsignal had to find a way to mesh unique, supportive textile and unprecedented accuracy of biometrics, something we’re referring as “signal quality”. At the end of the day, smartwear must indeed be “smart,” which means deep insights personalized to you, which require great signal quality in all types of context. In the end, high signal quality will deliver more accurate, insightful biometrics to fuel your athletic lifestyle. Human physiology and performance has been researched through intricate lab studies for decades, but it’s time these technologies became available to the everyday, aspiring athlete.
And here’s how we ensured to have the best signal quality:
Simultaneous, Double-Edged Design
Just like putting sails on a car doesn’t make it a boat, simply putting a sensor on a garment doesn’t make it a functional wearable.
While great bra design is hard enough, we also had to ensure the most accurate biosignal from the user in order to deliver insightful, progressive biometrics as promised. We not only conquered the perfect fit for comfort and support, but we also achieved to embed the technology necessary to gather accurate biometrics.
How did we do this? By performing textile design and technological insight simultaneously--over and over and over again until it was perfect. Over 560 hours of raw recording--running, sweating, wearing it wrong until we got it right.
In addition to opinionated insight and consumer feedback, we added signal quality and biometrics accuracy to our prototypes creation process. While we integrated surveys, comments and insights from beta-testers as valuable sources of real-life information, we pushed further by looking at the performance of the sensors and the quality of the data that was provided for each iteration. Each modification --no matter how small-- had to show both good feedback from beta testers and great signal quality. To us, numbers don’t lie, and we got users opinion through questionnaires, comfort measurements and scales. Doubled with signal quality performance of each design, we were sure to head in the right direction.
With 18 different series of prototypes with tens and hundreds of variations, the process was lengthy but necessary. Each change in the construction of a new bra went through intensive testing (e.g.: eight women on side-by-side treadmills to solve one problem) to ensure whatever improvement we made was indeed an improvement before moving on to the next step.
After extensive testing to be sure the product looks good, feels good and showed great signal quality, then comes the test of resilience. As a piece of activewear, reliability through multiple washes and harsh weather conditions is absolutely necessary.
Using our lab’s treadmill where humidity and temperature are controlled, we tested the bra’s resilience to different weather conditions and to ensure the bra’s resilience in the washing machine, we performed multiple wash-and-wear tests every day over the course of several weeks. Your new OMbra can withstand just about anything now without sacrificing form, function or signal quality.
Real World Runners for Real Results
Once the prototype was ready for production, we went outside and recruited an all-new pool of testers for the final tuning. We released the bra to nearly two hundred beta-testers. This way we were able to gather insightful data on another scale with different surveys and reports on how often the bra was worn and what was the signal quality in different contexts.
These insights had great value, this is real life and this is who we’re reaching. The ability to release a new product to hundreds of women of all different shapes, sizes and athletic abilities proved our design hypotheses and confirmed our goals of comfort and signal quality.
Benchmarked Against “The Ground Truth”
The OMbra gives your heart rate by sensing the electricity generated by the heart, as it’s done in the hospital. To compare the accuracy of our signal, we benchmarked our biosensing clothes with lab-grade ECG equipment, using both in parallel. We recorded 8 subjects in a series of contexts such as relaxation, running and even jumping jacks. For each, we compared the cleanness of the signal, the detection of heart beats and the accuracy of the heart rate. It turns out both systems provided the exact same heart rate (±0.5 in average) in all contexts. In the highest movements, OMsignal detected slightly more true heart beats (7%) mostly due to cleaner ECG signal. We are confident that our system can provide the best biometrics possible.
With 2000 different prototypes, over 600 hours in lab recordings, hundreds of women beta-testers and an insane number of measurements, we got it right. OMsignal now makes it easy to track biometrics in real time, during real life sports activity. We are proud to say we have created a bra with looks that could kill, comfort that supports, and biometric precision far superior to anything else on the market. And we did it for you.