Healer Tech has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Flexr, a connected sensor that attaches to a muscle and gamifies rehabilitation and exercise.
The device is a confluence of trends such as the Internet of Things, gamification, and the quantified self — all driving us to extract better information from our environment and apply it in a useful way to our daily lives.
Call it smart exercise. You attach a palm-sized sensor to your skin near the muscle that you want to train. Flexr detects the expansion and contraction of the muscle, and it transfers those inputs to an app on your smartphone. With the app, you can play an endless runner side-scrolling game, dubbed Endless Tower.
In the game, you run sideways and have to jump over gaps and avoid traps. Each time you need to do that, you contract a muscle. If you time it right, then you can keep on going. The app measures exactly how many times you stretch the right muscle. If you concentrate on the game, it may not seem like a workout, said Li “Ricky” Ge, cofounder of Healer Tech, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“Imagine if you could work out by playing Super Mario Bros. with your abdominal muscles — by contracting them to make Mario jump, for example,” said Ge. “One of the biggest problems is that people don’t do the exercises that their therapists ask them to do.”
Ge showed me a demo of the tech. I put it on my left arm. Each time I flexed the muscle, my character jumped upward in the game.
FlexR works with RehabFit, the first companion mobile app for Healer Tech’s health-focused gamification platform, which integrates patented neuromuscular feedback technology, wearables, and apps to create the new kind of gaming experience.
The app’s “Quick Start” menu features a variety of training modes, including for sedentary lifestyle and abdominal shaping. With Endless Tower, RehabFit offers customized, trackable gameplay with multiple difficulty levels designed to meet the user’s specific fitness goals. The company plans to release future games, including a music interaction mode, as well as a software development kit (SDK) for the development of games for virtual reality and augmented reality.
FlexR is aimed at getting to stick to your home rehabilitation exercises, such as addressing neck, shoulder, back, or knee pain by strengthening key muscles to achieve muscle balance. The system is easy to use by placing the electrodes on target muscles, syncing the neuromuscular sensor with the app, and starting gameplay. The neuromuscular sensor is a medical-grade device which enables users to receive precise, real-time, and intuitive feedback, and ensure they are targeting the correct muscles.
“Rather than spend endless hours at multiple appointments and doctor’s office visits, FlexR allows users to bring rehabilitation exercises home and incorporate professional medical technology into a fun and engaging therapeutic exercise routine,” said Ge.
Early backers can benefit from Super Early Bird pricing of $99, which includes a neuromuscular sensor and accompanying electrodes.
Ge, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a licensed physical therapist, started Healer Tech in 2014. Healer Tech hopes to raise $25,000 in the Kickstarter campaign.