Humon Hex * Closes *

Humon Hex ReviewHumon today announced that they are closing their doors – I’ll cover the impact on HEX users in a minute. For those who want it, the full communique from Humon is shown further below.

Background

The Humon Hex is a muscle oxygen sensor, delivering athlete-metrics along a very similar vein to the existing Moxy product which you may have heard of. There was also a similar BSX Insight product that bit the dust in October 2017.

I reviewed the Hex back in October 2018 and the founders had been around for some time before that, working on the Hex since 2015. It’s a good product, it’s one of those sensors that ‘just works’.

In talking with Humon in late 2018/early 2019 it was clear that they had cash to invest in the product offering. They chose to invest the cash in developing the software ecosystem around Muscle Oxygen (SmO2). Luckily there is already native ANT+ support for Muscle oxygen and that’s supported by Wahoo, Garmin and maybe others too. So the Humon Hex sensor ‘just works’ with those products…and will continue to do so.

However, Humon’s investment in the software also included

  • iOS/Android apps for standalone usage and analysis,
  • Beefing up the competency of their web portal to provide some analysis of SmO2 zones and estimations of threshold efforts (I covered the additions Humon made with an up-to-date Review, below)
  • Developing Garmin CIQ apps for added functionality – such as for SmO2 Zones.

I think that this was all a sensible investment in the infrastructure of the product and I have no criticisms there per se.

Humon had somewhat grandiose ideas that SmO2 could take off as a key training metric, even to guide beginner athletes through their efforts rather than using heart rate. Whilst that was a plausible and physiologically sensible idea, I did seriously doubt the commercial reality of that at the time. Indeed, it seems to have turned out that SmO2 still lies exclusively in the realms of the pro’s and sports labs…as well as sporty data geeks – and I include myself in that last category!

I probably last used Hex a couple of weeks ago. It really is a nice product and it’s sitting on my desk as I write this in the pile of ‘actively used sensors’ – which currently includes Whoop, Polar H9, Polar OH1+, STRYD and, well, …that’s about it.

Finally, Humon were HIGHLY HONOURABLE and paid out commissions to affiliates who they owed money to. Given the financial constraints they have, I hope that signals that they will treat existing customers as best they can.

What this means to existing owners

Actually, it’s not too bad. The sensor will just keep working and, because there is an ANT+ profile, it should continue to work forever on the devices that support that profile….mostly Wahoo and top-end Garmin Forerunners/Edges.

However, if you use the Hex with the Humon app then you’ll probably be stuffed at some point if you change your phone. (I believe it’s possible to port an app to a new phone using an apk??) Even if that turns out to be the case, at least someone might want to buy your Hex as it will still work in several scenarios or you might want to use Hex instead with a supported watch/bike computer.

Garmin CIQ fields are another matter. Yes, they will continue to work but I suspect that existing data fields will not necessarily work on new Garmin devices. This was the case with the Edge 530/830 and Forerunner 945 which each required tweaks to the existing data fields from earlier Garmins. To be clear – even you techies who know how to side-load PRG files may not be able to use that technique successfully on future products.

Don’t worry too much about the rapid demise of BSX, that product functioned in a different way and relied on services being maintained on the net. Hex will keep on working in most scenarios, as described here.

Thoughts

I’m a little bit sad about this as, for once, it’s some tech I use myself and quite like. I wouldn’t say I was especially surprised either but I hope that some sort of phoenix will arise from these smouldering embers.

One of the more positive aspects of this sad event is that the effect on existing owners should be much less than might be the case with the financial collapse of some of the other sports tech we use – especially risky are those that rely on a web-based platform which has an inherent cost with maintaining it. No money. No maintenance. No web-based platform.

Remember also that although customers might have lost a couple of hundred dollars, the founders will probably have lost considerably more in terms of several years of their life, earning forgone and maybe personal and family investments too. #Capitalism…it was ever thus.

Futures

Despite all of the above, I am reasonably sure that the Hex sensor WILL work with Moxy’s Garmin CIQ data fields. I’ve have tried that before and everything seemed to work at the time.

Notwithstanding the info further below, Garmin CIQ apps may well get de-listed from the CIQ store. You could probably ask people like me for an old PRG file to side-load if you get stuck. But as I said above, this technique will likely not work on newer Garmins (Note, I’ve already been contacted by a fellow user who is asking Humon if they will make the code available so it can be maintained as freeware – that would be nice)

Wahoo users who own a Hex will be oblivious to Humon’s non-existence. In fact, someone like Wahoo should buy Humon and just keep it ticking over…in my opinion. Chip?

Perhaps Moxy will be sneaky and offer Humon users a trade-in as they did with the Insight [Read More: dcrainmaker.com (October 2017) ]

Humon Hex Review ⬢ Muscle Oxygen Use-Case Scenarios

 

Full Official Transcript

 

Dear Humon Athlete,

I’m reaching out with an important update about the future of Humon.

We started Humon in 2015 with the mission of empowering people with the body insights that they need to become their better selves. After years of research and development, we released our first product, the Hex, in 2018. In the years that followed, we were lucky to count amongst our customers some of the most talented athletes, professional teams, gyms, medical centres and academic researchers in the world. These people were able to leverage the Hex and Humon’s software and algorithms to improve their performance, reduce injury and push the world of research forward. To this day we remain convinced that muscle oxygen is the best metric of exertion that exists.

That said, it is still a new and somewhat misunderstood metric that requires sustained levels of market education to exist. Sadly, Humon will no longer be able to further develop this technology and make muscle oxygen available and understandable to the world.

As of February 13th, 2020 we regrettably have no choice but to shut down most of the Humon service. Our iOS and Android mobile application will no longer be available for new downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, our cloud backend and web platform will be shut down, and our support channels closed. That said, you’ll still continue to be able to use your Hex with your Garmin data field that will remain available to download on the Connect IQ Store.

We understand that this comes as a major disappointment to those of you who do not use Garmin products but it is the necessary path forward today. It is also why we stopped selling the Hex in early January, as we began to realize that this would be the case.

This is not an uncommon story in the world of startups, but it is also how innovations can flourish and end up benefiting millions in the long run. On behalf of the Humon team we wanted to thank you all for you trust, support, and help in bringing this product to market. Together, we’ve written a chapter in the history of muscle oxygen.

Best,
Humon

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Humon Hex * Closes *

  1. Whilst not a product I ever tried it’s a shame to loose something like this.
    And a sober reminder to the likes of Stryd how important making their product more accessible is.

  2. This is sad. I’m happy owner of a Hex unit and find it generally more useful than HR. That being said, I never managed to get a meaningful training structure based on HR. With Humon, I was able to tailor my intervals based on its zones.

    Also, there was a bit of magic to really see 1) when I was fully warmed up, and 2) when it was time to stop training as the recovery was failing and there was no point to continue. It worked far better than ‘an intuitive feeling and years of experience’.

    • ‘a bit of magic’…i like that. Well said.
      i’ve never really looked at point 2. closely. i’m going to have a protest weak and use the Hex more than normal…should have used it for that purpose on today’s 3 hour ride.

  3. Oh well…. there goes my rationale for explaining why I had to move from Polar Vantage to Garmin 6…. Serves me right for not doing it as soon as the 6 became available I guess 🤣🤣 I’m going to need a new drawer for muscle oxygenation sensors that no longer work… BSX Insight already in there.

  4. Garmin connect does not show the color zones.. but you can see it live in a data field on the edge device, which is mostly what I use it for. As I already have a BSX in the drawer and money tied up on their rip-off kickstarter watch thingymajig… I guess I get to add the Humon to the list. I hope someone does something with it in the. future.

    • ps. LVL have started to give refunds. I got mine a few days ago.

      On that topic there was an interesting comment in a dcr article. The comment supposesly left by a former lvl colleague casts doubt on dcr accuracy.

  5. I think they did never marked it to beginners the right way.
    Im also a data nerd, running with footpad, HRM-Run and tempe connected to my FR945 für 25km/week 😀 at this point, but never did see a benefit for me in muscle oxygen.

    I also have a SHFT in my drawer and wonder how they survive because it doesnt even make sense to sell it used on eBay because nobody wants it.

    Hex supported natively as ANT+ profile is a good thing. Even if the CIQ data fields are not compiled anymore for newer devices, somebody else can rework them.

    • I still think SHFT has its place but that the market for such devices is limited. Each year there seems to be a new entrant trying to do the same thing either with a body-worn pod or a footpod.

  6. Have been using the Hex for several months now – life-changing for me. Using it for a metabolic disease that puts me into anaerobic metabolism with laughably little activity.

    IMO this company – utterly brilliant in so many ways – dropped the ball with marketing and ease-of-use. IMO, marketing so heavily to elites misses the juggernaut application of weekend warriors and wannabe athletes. Everybody’s busy. Who doesn’t want to optimize their training so they are beautifully warmed-up, and know precisely when to stop when further pain isn’t worth it? Look at the performance breakthroughs with the Hex. A guy who was at the 20th percentile 2 years ago, winning the global 2019 indoor erg rowing championship? A neophyte in Spartan Races, clobbering the competition. I can totally see how this allows athletes to go “all in” – because they know now how to elegantly skirt away from non-functional overload, or overtraining syndrome.

    When I get into conversations with recreational athletes, they are simply buzzed when they hear about the Hex (I wear it everywhere to know when to rest, etc). Indeed, they are so enthused, that they tell their girlfriends, and are wanting to know where to buy one, next time I see them. When you see the performance increments that people have achieved (the ones who slavishly follow the training zones), IMO muscle 02 sat is a must-have adjunct to HR training. HR varies with temperature, humidity, hydration, etc. Ratings of Perceived Effort are shite. Real-time Sm02 is our best answer right now.

    What this product needs is a dialed-in salesforce, targeted to mainstream weekend athletes. Don’t sell this as a competitor to HR monitoring – sell it as an adjunct (“Would you like fries with that?”). Any store that sells HR watches IMO should be also selling Hexes for the ‘ultimate” fitness hack. I truly believe the market would eat it up, because EVERY recreational athlete I’ve spoken to about it has been gobsmacked by the potential, the efficiency, the beauty of this thing. This device allows one to begin to think of evaluating say, the efficacy of HVMN Ketone Esters on your performance; or beet juice; or other supplement regimens. I’ve even used it to evaluate medications that my doctors are trying. The Hex allows me to objectively and longitudinally gauge whether we are moving the needle on my disease.

    What would be meaningful for me? A reduction in the % of time I spend daily in red and orange; an uptick in my minimum, average, and max Sm02. I’ve used Hex graphs to educate my doctors on how much time I’m spending anaerobic. When a chunk of your life is spent generating 2 molecules of ATP/molecule of glucose instead of 30-36, you take a huge hit on quality of life. So yeah, I watch the Hex output closely, and in real-time.

    And the pricepoint is sufficiently accessible to facilitate uptake, tho with volume, this could get even better.

    Big sports chains – are you listening?!!!!! Someone needs to market the heck out of this fabulous device!

    And that doesn’t even touch the benefits of using this for, say, post-cardiac-surgery rehab. I believe insurance companies would be dying to have their patients use these routinely, so they stay safe, and accelerate their rehab safely. May even be far better than a Holter Monitor – recognizing the metrics are different – because the patient can be trained quickly about the colored zones. Much better compliance, when you understand what’s going on with Sm02. Don’t get me wrong, we still need physios (I am one). But you can train a lot more patients safely if they all have a Hex on – oh yeah – and appropriate, customizable alarms. For me – an alarm that tells me when I’m about to go anaerobic, and a friendly ping when I can resume life? Would be fabulous.

    Somebody – PLEASE – buy what remains of this company, make it even more user-friendly, sell some of these already paired with a basic HR watch; and take it to the next level! Just a matter of time… I sincerely hope!

  7. Sad … might have picked up a few for some experiments if they had reduced their price.

    Started using the Moxy before either BSX nor Humon were available. First bought just one, saw its potential to measure what is happening inside the body, but also its limitations, like getting different readings in different muscles or even different locations of the same muscle. Added two more, which I never regretted and still think of one of my best investments in cycling as it made me understand how complicated human physiology is.

    Equipped with three SmO2 sensors and seeing the differences in their readings, it was obvious that the initial expectations, like making judgments about completed warmup or FTP from just one sensor was way too simplistic, but now, the differences started to be the really interesting pieces of information. Learned to be cautious of simplified ideas like thresholds or zones to reliably characterize something as complex as the human body which is obviously made of many parts that each have different limits. Followed Humon’s idea of coloring their SmO2 graph with interest as I had previously spent some thoughts about that – of course with the difference that from my data I had to reject that idea as not tenable.

    Concerning accuracy of SmO2 sensors, I once compared Moxy and BSX and believe they measure different “things”, at least for my skin color and body composition. Even attempted occlusion tests stopping blood flow to understand more about the range of SmO2 values. Started reading Humon’s sponsored validation study but stopped at their claim of “strong linear relationship” when the figure was showing anything but.

    The next step up for me is probably something like the PNOE in order to accurately measure the continuously changing ratio between aerobic and anaerobic – a simple threshold it wouldn’t need to be in order to be interesting and useful.

  8. I am really sad that this company is no longer in business. I am a Challenged Athlete, also with cardio respiratory issues. I used the Humon Hex for a year riding my ICE Vortex recumbent trike, preparing for the Challenged Athlete Foundation Million Dollar Challenge ride down the California coast. (the MDC is 600 miles in 6 days, with 2500-7500 ft of climbing per day)

    I normally used heart zones and watts for my training and competition – usually sprint tri to 70.3 events. But I wanted to use the Hex as an additional training tool for the much more ambitious MDC. As it turned out, the HEX rapidly became my most important training tool, and I came to rely on muscle oxygen much more than watts or heart rate for pacing myself in this endurance ride.

    On cross-training days, I used the HEX at cardiopulmonary rehab sessions at the hospital: Running on a treadmill, the app display was so sensitive that I could see a slight dip in the graph with each muscle contraction during a stride. It even showed the effect of pursed lip breathing during sustained exercise, as the Oxygen levels in the muscle modestly improved, despite continuing at the same intensity on the treadmill. The medical staff were so impressed that they ordered several HEX units.

    While riding, the Hex completely changed the way I trained. It showed me that I needed 10 minutes more than the 15 minute rule-of-thumb warm up I had been using. The device let me know when I was pushing too hard on a long climb, or when I needed a day off from training. On a long ride with many steep hills, I would see the approach of lactate threshold well before I could feel any muscle burn. Over the course of 4368 miles of training, I learned a lot, and gradually found myself using muscle oxygen more than heart rate for endurance rides: The heart strap and watt meter showed me what was happening, but the Hex showed me what was ABOUT to happen, and let me adjust my pace.

    During the MDC I was able to use the Oxygen muscle displays and convenient color backgrounds to help pace myself: I tend to start off in sprint mode, even after 50 years of riding, and the Hex provided the ‘adult supervision’ I needed to complete the ride. Any time I was on a long climb, or on a long flat tempting section of coast, the oxygen data kept me on track and well paced. If it started to drift into the orange or red zones, I knew it was time to back off, especially if there was another 30 miles ahead. I mostly ignored much of the heart and watt data during the event, except for average/peak heart rate, average/max power, and IF. I also ignored speed and time metrics – my goal was just to finish. I really don’t think I would have been adequately prepared for this event if I had just followed my usual interval/hill-repeat/endurance 70.3 training program, with heart zones and watts as the only training metrics.

    I was recently advised by my physicians that sprint tri events should be avoided, but endurance events were still OK – if I keep using the HEX! Going from a leather helmet and wool jersey to watts meters and muscle oxygen – what a ride it has been, and now that Humon is out of business, I hope my HEX will last the rest of the course! Thank you, Humon!

  9. I haven’t figured out how to connect Hex to my Fenix 6 natively. I see that you can add a muscle oxygen field and that you can pair a muscle oxygen sensor, but the watch can’t seem to find the Humon as a native sensor. The Humon data field finds the sensor no problem.

    • hmmm.
      in my 945 i tried to find a muscle oxygen sensor to pair. i couldn’t either.
      as you know the humon data field DOES NOT require formal pairing. it does it on the sly, so to speak. so my 945 does work already with the hex data field
      my wahoo clearly picks up ant+ ID 1337.
      then i tried to pair it again to my 945 but this time i just told it to search all sensors rather than muscle oxygen ones..and it DOES find “Muscle O2″ – 1337”
      i searched again for the muscle oxygen specific class of sensors and it DID find it (again) after 10 seconds or so.

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