In its native New Zealand home, Circuband has been making resistance training bands for about three years, and it counts major Kiwi professional sports teams, like the ever-successful New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, as users. However, it's looking to take the next step with the iQ.
The iQ, available on Kickstarter now for $200, wants to bring the benefits of connected technology to resistance training. Circuband has taken its own bands, and then attachednew sensors sensors created by StretchSense. Those sensors, by the way, were researched by NASA for potential applications. When combined with its companion app, the Circuband iQ system can tell you all sorts of things about your workout.
Read this: The best fitness trackers
Thus far, connected technology has mostly focused on aerobic workouts like running, cycling and - more recently - swimming. Weight lifting and resistance training have been left on the side, but Circuband wanted to change that after hearing the same questions about its products over and over again.
"The question we always got was, 'How do you know what resistance you're using?', 'How do you know what happens when you adjust it?'. 'How do you know whether you're using it correctly?' It was always the same," Daniel Thomson, managing director of Circuband, tells Wareable. "Despite all our many advancements, despite being probably the best product on the market for portable training solutions, people always had these questions."
From that, Thomson and his team went to an innovation center in Christchurch, New Zealand and eventually were partnered up with StretchSense. They figured that combining their abilities would be a common sense way to solve this problem that Circuband encountered, and the iQ was born.
Before you begin, the app can show you how to do your exercises and guide you through them. After - and during - your workout, the app can tell you how forceful you're doing exercises, whether you have a good range of movement or not, and whether you're doing it slowly or quickly. All of this information, Thomson says, can be "dissected and used to track progress and monitor progression or regression, depending on what you want to achieve."
So who is the Circuband iQ for? That's hard to answer right now. Thomson says the company is using its Kickstarter campaign to whittle down whether it goes after the regular consumer or a niche professional group as its market. That'll be reflected in the Kickstarter campaign itself, which Thomson says will morph over the next 24 days to better align with whichever market it chooses.
Regardless, Thomson says the Circuband's tech can easily scale for all kinds of people, from regular people to high school athletes to professional athletes. In fact, Thomson says he'd argue that "It's healthier to partake in resistance training over cardio because the process of developing muscle and keeping muscle is so important to our metabolism and how our body functions."
One thing is for sure, the company has big ambitions. Thomson says he's meeting with the LA Kings hockey team and the strength and conditioning trainer of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to discuss potential uses. You see, the company has built a bunch of prototype attachments that can alter how you use the Circuband. For instance, there's an American football attachment that Brady could use to track how much power he has in his throw and track progress on potential rehabilitation after injuries.
Further than that, Thomson says the company is looking at both augmented and virtual realities. It can easily add gyroscopes to its handles so that the Circuband iQ can "actually track range of motion across particular planes so we could start to get more accurate data on actual movement." It can also adjust the system for AR, putting lines in front of the user that lets them match movements and do exercises properly.
But first, there's that crowdfunding campaign.
Well, well, well, look at you with the hotshot questions. Circuband has been making products for a couple years now, so it certainly understands how to work with partners. More importantly, however, is that the company is partnered with the New Zealand government.
It's part of a grant program that sees 50% of its research and development cost subsidized by the government, which means it can outsource engineering problems to a branch of the New Zealand government if it needs to. "It gives a degree of credibility off the bat, but it also ensures we get the results we want," Thomson says. "And if we're not happy we ask to do it again, and again, and again. It's a public service so they'll traditionally provide good quality in that sort of under-promise, over-deliver type of way."
If you're looking for a portable, connected way to track your muscle growth, you're probably not going to find a better way to do it than Circuband iQ. There just aren't enough alternatives in connected weightlifting at the moment, so if you can muster up $200 then this might be the help you've been looking for.