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Portugese startup, KINEMATIX, has a neat little device for measuring some elements of running form and suggesting ways to improve it through specific drills.
What is it?
The TUNE product consists of 2 removable insoles. Attached to each is a white, removable/USB-chargeable pod.
The insole has sensors built into it and you can buy additional insoles for other pairs of shoes.
There is a companion app for your iOS/Android smartphone. TUNE uses Bluetooth to link to your app but TUNE won’t YET communicate to your smartwatch or sports’ watch.
The app has some neat, new running metrics such as Heel Contact Time (HCT) and Heel Striking Steps (HST). All metrics are calculated for each foot separately. The resulting Symmetry/Asymetry is analysed over segments of your runs.
The app also prompts you to do drills/exercises before each session. Over time these drills/exercise progress from generic to specific – based on your form. Exercises seems to be generated generically for the first 10 uses after which more specific exercise are given.
Is it any good?
It seems to deliver the metrics well and certainly spotted my recent injury-induced asymmetry. The colour coding clearly highlights what KINEMATIX see as good, bad or indifferent.
After using the product on and off for several weeks I am still to see the benefits of the effects of the more personalised drills – fair enough. It takes the body a while to adapt.
- Easy to install and switch between shoes (goes under your existing insole)
- USB rechargeable
- PODs go on the outside of each shoe and do not interfere with running at all.
- Very lightweight at about 30g per foot and 1-2mm thick. You can’t tell that you are wearing them.
- It is probably more accurate than a HRM-based pod measuring similar metrics.
- Whilst a little unusual at first, the app’s display does help identify performance averages for intervals much better than some other online tools which seem to provide too much detail (data) and not enough analysis/information/insight. I only ever looked at the app display at the end of my exercise.
- Requires a smartphone app to be carried for both the GPS-derived pace and the data storage on the app. Ideally for me TUNE would not require a smartphone app, perhaps instead using Garmin’s Connect IQ as a collection mechanism for a web dashboard as well as the GPS-speed (or footpod speed) from a Garmin sports watch.
- The pods do not cache any data.
- A smartwatch app is planned by KINEMATIX to counter the need for carrying a smartphone but I am unsure as to what percentage of their target market will use a smartwatch.
- Carrying a smartphone is just plain difficult for me on faster intervals. I can and did manage it on longer runs.
- I worry about the robustness of the wires that connect the sole to the pod they can be twisted as the pod is unattached from the shoe.
- I had issues getting and maintaining a connection to my Android phone, sometimes no data was collected. This could have been linked to GPS signal strength/quality on MY phone and/or the persistence of the Bluetooth connection.
I’ve done over 100km wearing these whilst running. Mostly at easy/endurance/moderate pace levels and with typically medium-weight shoes.
Readings varied, as might be expected, with different shoes. Most notably and ‘obviously’ with shoes of different weight and shoes with differing heel heights/drops.
I’d just finished my testing when the app v1.38.12 arrived. Hopefully that brings BT connection improvements.
Some of the alternatives are ZOI, SHFT.RUN, RunScribe and Garmin’s two tranches of Running Dynamics.
The design and usage seem broadly fine to me. It all seems like it all can and does work. My reticism would be:
- Longevity of the sole and attaching wires
- Reliability of BT connection
- How accurate is YOUR phone’s GPS?
- I need more convincing that the second phase of exercises are really based on the results of my earlier runs and I want to know ‘what is wrong with my form’.
- I am sure that the device is capable of recording/analysing more varied footstrike data. I would like to see that AND I would then like to REALLY understand how a bit of data exposes a poor element of my technique AND THEN I want to really understand which precise exercises/measures are being proposed to counter EACH fault. As a coach I would want to be able to understand the analysis and recommendations made by the app, as a runner I would want to trust the recommendation it makes.
- This hardware MUST be capable of more and I understand more metrics are planned for TUNE. The sole-based sensors must be at an advantage over the footpods of SHFTrun and ZOI RUN in the ‘CORRECT AND DETAILED’ measurement of footstrike. SHFTrun and ZOI RUN though have strengths in other areas of running form with their monitoring of body movement.
- Carrying a smartphone is not for me. Another mechanism is needed to capture data.
- I would imagine that a large part of the target market would be Garmin owners. I would have made the device broadcast ANT+ and write to a FIT file via a CIQ Data Field (or CIQ APP) – although that is easy to say now when that option has only been available since about July 2016! TUNE was conceived long before that.
I’m probably coming across a little negative. I don’t mean to. With a few weeks’ work on your technique you could probably get a few %age points faster. That’s MUCH easier to achieve for many people compared to trying to get faster by training hard. Of course you can do both!
But exactly how else would you propose to do technique work? More advanced lab-based 3d-analyses that I have done are superb but not really accessible to most people because they are relatively hard to find and expensive even for a one-off session.
Maybe you can join a running club or get a personal coach. Again, getting one-to-one advice is going to be expensive and not necessarily right in any case.
Who might be interested?
- Me. I want to improve.
- Higher level coaches might consider these for their protegees.
- Self-trainers might see this as a great digital personal run trainer.