Do you heel strike or are you a forefoot runner? If you have no idea what that question means this wearable probably isn’t for you. RunScribe is aiming for serious running geeks who want to nerd out over exactly how, where and when their feet connect with the ground — and use that data to improve their running technique and (hopefully) avoid injury.
Running has been a popular target for fitness focused wearables up to now, with fitness bands and running-focused smartwatches mushrooming forth as forerunners of the nascent wearables category. But as more and more generic fitness bands crop up, an appetite for greater specialism is likely to gather momentum. So enter RunScribe: a device that attaches to the back of your running shoe in order to be well-placed to figure out exactly how you are running.
The data its motion sensors capture is stored locally on flash memory during each run and synced to a cloud service after — visualised via various granular charts and graphs — allowing the athlete to do a deep data dive analysis of their gait. (A top tier of the service — called runScribe Science — will even give the user access to the raw sensor data captured by the device.)
Last summer’s Sensoria smart socks blasted off crowdfunding blocks with a similar idea, although runScribe involves a bit less faff, given it consists of just the one wearable device that clips to your shoe, rather than a pair of socks and an ankle clip. (Super serious runners can opt to use one RunScribes per foot per run but that level of detail is not required to power its gait analysis).
What exactly does runScribe measure? A full 13 kinematic metrics (with its Pro pack) captured via the 9-axis sensor within the device, including stride length, pronation, contact time, swing excursion and stance excursion. It uses these metrics to create a runScore so the user can easily compare one run with another, i.e. without having to drill down into all the individual metrics every time — although that remains entirely possible with the full service. And desirable if you are, for instance, trying out a new pair of kicks to decide whether they are appropriate for your running style.
Figuring out which shoes best suit your running style can be a tricky problem, which is why some dedicated running stores offer an in-house gait analysis service where staff watch you run on a treadmill and suggest shoes that might be suitable. The problem there is these staff aren’t impartial, given they are trying to sell you the shoes in their shop.
RunScribe aims to provide enough granular data to allow the runner to determine which shoes suit them best — and do that by collectively analyzing the running data of scores of users. If its makers can get their wearable onto the shoes of enough runners they can start building the big data cache they need to power that expertise and pull a community of runners into orbit around pack-leading gait specialism.
That’s the vision. For now runScribe is still a prototype. So far they’ve more than tripled their original $50,000 Kickstarter funding target, and still have 17 days of their campaign to run. (No pun intended.) The crowdfunding route offers a chance for this specialized wearable maker to drive enough early users to hit a critical mass of data quicker. To hit the ground running, you could say.
The runScribe wearable starts at $99 to Kickstarter backers with access to limited metrics, or from $139 with full access to metrics. It’s not yet clear whether the metrics service will end up requiring a subscription. Kickstarter backers get one year free access guaranteed. After that the device’s makers say it’s tbc whether there will be a recurring charge to use the service, or whether they will offer a freemium model — likely gating the really granular gait analysis behind a fee.
The runScribe wearable itself is scheduled to be shipped to backers by this December.