Humon 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.
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 (Review), 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.
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.
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) ] Edit: they have…HERE
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.