Seeing a crowd-funded project grow up: Sensoria

Amongst the multitude of vendor booths displaying at CES 2015, I noticed a rather large booth – mainly because they seemed to be swamped by crowds every time I wandered by.  Dipping in for a closer look what really caught my eye was this odd looking device.

IMGS1531

Not quite sure what new wearable technology I was looking at, I had to stop for a chat.  That’s what led me to the realization that I was talking to some folks who seemed somewhat familiar.  Familiar, as in I felt like I had read about them in a DC Rainmaker post at some point in the past. Though I probably hold the distinction of being one of the few people who read all of Ray’s posts, I really can’t remember every product he’s written about, though I’m sure he can.  The man’s memory skills are amazing.

Anyway, a while back, as in about a year and half ago, Ray ran a post on a personal visit he made to a small Seattle startup seeking crowd-source funding. At the time they were an early player in the field of embedded wearable technology when they came up with their Smart Sock idea.

The sock was designed to measure metrics such as stride length, cadence, foot positioning, pronation and even force exerted while in an activity.  Ray dove into more of the technical details here in his post.

Ray’s piece on them was a good behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of the engineering and manufacturing challenges inherent in bringing a new product to market.  That company, Sensoria, ultimately met and exceeded their funding goal and within the past month or so have started shipping product to their early Indigogo backers, with plans to start retail distribution within the next few months.

It was good to see them at CES with such a success story.  Though their initial startup funding goal was relatively small at just $87,000 they surpassed that by 133% and have even gone on to acquire additional private investment funding.  And considering the cost of having a good portion of your company camp out on a large piece of show floor real estate at CES in Vegas, business must be good.

But most importantly it was interesting to see the improvements in their finished product.  Aside from the scary piece of armament above, they have really refined their sock-based hardware.  As you’ll recall from Ray’s first post their banana sized anklet was interesting, to say the least.  But their new offering is less fruit-like and more activity tracker like.

IMGS1496

And they have improved their snap-on idea with a more magnet based system.

IMGS1497

And from that you can see how it relates to the charging base in the first photo above.

Anyway, so far they report good results from their initial shipments with good feedback for app enhancements.  And I see no real complaints in their Indigogo comments section since shipment, which is always a good indicator.  And they even preceded their sock release with a successful release of an HRM-embedded sports bra and a similar man’s shirt.

IMGS1529IMGS1504

So, overall, it’s good to see this kind of progress for a risk-taker in a very competitive world.  Oh, and Sensoria was even honored recently for this year’s CES Innovation Awards.  Not too shabby.

Welcome to CES 2015! Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2015 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

24 Comments

  1. Eric

    But what does it do?

  2. Yeah, I was waiting for the part that explained it a little more. I mean, did functionality change from the original post? Is it better/worse?

  3. simon

    What Eric said

  4. Tim Grose

    As mentioned in the post link to indiegogo.com seems to explain it

  5. Chris

    Hey Ray just hoping the girl and your friends are safe back at home. Let us know.

  6. Stan Sokol

    Important fact: socks only last for 35 washes and then you need to buy new ones. Pretty useless, would have been better to have a way of having separate sensor.

    • Matt

      Or just stop washing your socks?

    • Mack

      According to their FAQ they’ll last at least 45 washes, but that’s still not much. They’re not cheap either. Additional socks are $49 for 2 pairs. I’d need at least 6 pairs minimum to get through a laundry cycle in my house which would be an initial cost of $250 and another $100 about every year. no thanks

      Seems like they’d be better off designing an insole cover with a strap to your ankle for the main unit. That way it would fit various sizes and not require frequent washing.

    • Emy

      I wonder if the sock has been washed after every race for 45 times (i.e. 1 race, 1 washing) or just washed 45 times.
      We must take into account that the textile sensor with the movement of the foot during race is subject to wear out, so I think that 45 (or 35…) is a very generous number.

  7. Roman

    I agree that the fact that u have to replace socks so often is a downer. I wounder If the same consent would work with something like a shoe insert. Of course here u have to worry about the number of different sizes of inserts u have to produce, but this way u definitely get a lot more user time vs 35 washes.

  8. PAC

    The whole “special sock” bit has always been a non-starter for me. I’d be interested to see if RunScribe (another foot-based running metrics wearable – closer to a foot pod) is at CES…..Ray?

  9. Gunnar

    Combine this with “mop a sock” and then have something here.

  10. Sadly, they appear to be lagging in shipments. I ordered a set in September, last received an email from them in November, and still have not received the socks. Good, bad, or otherwise, they got my cash but I have not received their product.

  11. Raymond_B

    Still waiting on my socks as well. But I think some of you are expecting that you would wear the sock 100% of the time. And I guess you could, but IIRC it was meant more to be used every so often to check/evaluate. At least that was how I plan on using it.

  12. Socks arrived! Now on to use. Here is what I have noticed so far. The app displays Calories, Distance, Pace, Speed, Ascent, Descent, Altitude, Foot Landing (Heel or Ball of the Foot), Foot Contact Duration, Steps, and Cadence.

    The sock mounted transmitter doesn’t have an on-off switch and appears to draw a fair amount of power. Like the Garmin 405, the transmitter runs out of charge quickly — in my case, within 24 hours. Therefore, it needs to be charged prior to every run.

    Second, the pressure sensors appear to be quite rudimentary and limited in number — there are three sensors (one under the heel, and two up front under the left and right side of the ball of the foot). The app displays which end of the foot the runner lands on with each step — ball or heel. In theory that sounds interesting, but in practice for most runners it will translate into “heel”; in fact, even on a long run, almost 100% heel. There are no incremental pressure metrics, or distribution between front and back or left and right. No way to see how much of the landing is on the heel vs the ball for mid-foot runners, how quickly the runner rolls onto the ball, nor pressure distribution between the inside and outside of the foot. In addition, there is no way to compare the pressure on the left foot to the right foot (relevant after injuries or those with one longer leg). So, for those with the newer Garmin heart monitor that tracks running efficiency, the socks bring little to the data party.

  13. Raymond_B

    Have you imported or uploaded the data collected by the app to their website? I am thinking we’ll get better metrics that way. I got my socks as well, but had to go out of town and wasn’t able to do any testing. Also just a note for Android users the app needs to come off Sensoria’s website as it is not on the Google Play store yet.

  14. Raymond_B

    Hmmm, I could have sworn they had a website to go along with the app. Guess not 🙁

  15. Raymond_B

    Tried mine out yesterday, the Android app was not working correctly so it did not save any useful data. But even if it did I’m pretty underwhelmed so far.

    Ray, I do have an extra pair of unused socks I’d be willing to loan you to do one of your full on tests of the setup if you want.

    • Eli

      Just tried mine out yesterday (stress fracture kept me from using it earlier), the metronome worked well but the other feedback I got didn’t seem to work. Seems like if the socks are left right specific the wiring could be done in a way that you don’t have to care which unit is for which leg.

  16. Hi there. I’m Paolo from the Sensoria team and i would like to address few concerns/issue related the Sensoria smart Socks.

    First of all thank you all for your question and interest on our product.

    Since January the washability has consistently improved. As today we guarantee 60 washing cycles, however our tests results seems very promising and that number could be higher. Therefore let’s suppose that you run one washing machine a week and run 4 time a week. By buying a Bundle plus an additional pair of smart socks (total cost $248), you should be fine for 15 months more or less. Of course is very important a little bit of extra care by following the washing recommendation.

    Moreover the the Sensoria socks are technical running socks made 100% in USA.

    We do apologize for the ones that have been waiting more than expected to receive their socks. However as today each one of our backers that have confirmed their address have received their order.

    Most of the issues reported were due firmware/software issues. Now most of them have been fixed (battery life, connectivity, data visualization,virtual coach feedback notifications, data accuracy). Mobile app bugs for both iOS and Android are now minimal and we continiuosly work to fix them all.

    In few weeks we will release new features in the app based on customer feedback and technology improvements.

    If you have any questions feel free to email us at customerservice@sensoriainc.com .