Capstone design project now sought-after wearable technology

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waterloo electrical engineering alumni are debuting connected, wearable workout gear to the public in Spring 2014.

Backed with $3.5 million in seed funding from fellow electrical engineering graduate Chamath Palihapitiya's Social+Capital Partnership, Athos offers wearable technology that is fully integrated in workout clothing.

Dhananja Jayalath and Christopher Wiebe, who both graduated from Waterloo Engineering in 2012, came up with the idea for Athos after becoming frustrated by their workouts in the gym. They felt like there was no way to know whether they were actually working the right muscles when lifting weights. As electrical engineers, both thought there could be a frictionless way that hardware technology could collect this data from their muscles.

While still Waterloo Engineering students, Jayalath and Wiebe spent over a year developing a prototype of the wearable compression garment that harnessed EMG technology wirelessly, with sensors that track muscle groups, heart rate, breathing and more.

In 2012, the then-electrical engineering students and other members of their fourth year design project team, took home two awards, including a top innovation prize, from the Ontario Engineering Competition for the Muscle Activation Detection Suit, an early version of Athos.

Over the past year, Wiebe, Jayalath, and another partner have built a way to use non-adhesive sensors in a compression garment (a long-sleeved exercise top and bike shorts/legging) that transmits the muscle data to a small module, which is called the core. The core then wirelessly syncs this data to Athos' software app, which collects all information and actually gives users a way to track and understand their workouts.

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