Frontier X is wearable tech created by Fourth Frontier Technologies as a next-gen device used by endurance athletes to measure breathing rates and the effort used during a measured breathing rate. This first-of-its-kind wearable debuted in New York City today at a launch event at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan hosted by Paula Radcliffe, a former Marathon world record holder, and Tim Hutchings, 1984 UK Olympian and current broadcaster. The more than 50,000 runners and coaches participating in the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov 3 can check it out at the ongoing Expo before the race. Frontier X was designed by a team of biomedical engineers and doctors to detect breathing rate (effort) and cardiac strain (heart health). The ability to read running effort, training load, and heart health accurately through sophisticated algorithms was previously only measured within sport labs and doctor’s offices, until now. Improving health is what this sports tech product is all about.
Sports Wearable Pioneers
Fourth Frontier is based in Austin, Texas and Bangalore, India. CEO Sandeep Sibal, and CTO Manav Bhushan, co-founded the sports tech company. The former is a technology entrepreneur and previous Qualcomm executive while the latter is a recent Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Oxford.
The unique product is worn on the chest and measures key physiological signals that calculate “how” an exerciser is doing, rather than “what” an exerciser is doing. “It gives that information to athletes to find their best race pace.” said Radcliffe.
Technologies in competitive sports wearable products rely on less data to quantify effort, namely GPS pace and heart rate. Yet heart rate can be an unreliable indicator because psychological and external factors that include heat, altitude and caffeine can introduce fluctuations and ultimately errors in computing a user’s effort. GPS pace has been shown to be an unreliable indicator of effort because of the lack of measured wind and incline metrics.
Frontier X allows for real-time feedback when a user produces effort level (breathing rate) that is unsustainable or if exertion levels are causing harmful strain on their heart. The buzz alert is completely hands-free enabling the cyclist, marathoner or rower to adjust workout effort instantaneously to keep the rhythm in sync with racing or training pace.
Radcliffe added, “I am so excited about Frontier X and truly think it can revolutionize training and racing for athletes of all abilities. It provides key guidance, reassurance and a means of learning how to tune in to your body and gauge effort at the entry/beginner level. For more experienced athletes, Frontier X provides vital distraction-free feedback enabling them to fine-tune and improve their performance, both in training and racing, by hitting perfect effort levels throughout. The heart and lungs are the fundamental foundations of all endurance sport. Frontier X enables us to protect and listen to them, thus helping us all to work with our bodies in far greater harmony.”
Breathing rate is the number of breaths taken per minute. Experts believe it is a more accurate indicator of effort level during exercise than heart rate or pace.
Jonathan Cane, legendary New York City endurance sports coach said, “Heart rate, pace relative to race intensity, and quite often an athlete’s subjective rating of perceived exertion have long been methods of gauging a workout’s intensity. While each can be helpful, they also each come with their respective inherent flaws and limitations. Frontier X is the first product to provide the ability to monitor breathing rate and thus gauge intensity using practical and scientifically justified methodology. Frontier X will transform the way athletes and coaches view workouts by allowing for quick detection when an athlete has crossed an intensity threshold that he/she might not yet perceive subjectively.”
When a Frontier X wearer achieves a level indicating their effort is unsustainable based on their breathing rate, the user receives a single “buzz” from the small device signaling to decelerate to a more optimized effort and pace. Frontier X allows any athlete, whether casual or elite to become enlightened as to an optimal effort level, and also have the ability to track their ability to reach and sustain that level for longer periods of time during subsequent workouts as a marker for improvement.
Budd Coates , the 4-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and author of Running on Air, said, “I’m a true believer that perceived exertion is the best way to monitor your effort and that paying attention to your breathing, paired with stride cadence, is the most efficient way to judge effort. Frontier X offers real-time feedback on these components allowing the athlete to hone in on the perfect pace for the distance being raced or the workout being run.”
Cardiac strain is a term Fourth Frontier uses to define a given deficit in the amount of oxygen circulated to the heart. Frontier X has propriety technology used to detect when the heart muscle is oxygen deficient during a fitness endurance activity and alerts the user with a double “buzz” so the user can decrease their exertion level and most importantly, avoid the possibility of causing damage to their heart. This condition, where the heart does not get enough oxygen, is called ischemia. If sustained for too long it can lead to damage, which is not always accompanied by pain and yet can be permanent.
Hutchings said, “The astonishing thing about the Frontier X is that it produces specific performance data for the wearer that is an absolute and is non-negotiable. So it’s a step forward for any and every endurance athlete who wants to ensure their training is hitting the nail on the head, that every session is correct. What’s groundbreaking is that this information has never been obtainable outside a lab. And it resonates massively for me personally, because had I been wearing it five years ago, it could potentially have given me a warning about my building atrial fibrillation, a heart defect that can randomly develop in any one of us.”
Over the past two decades, three waves of wireless products have connected billions of people. The first connected people to other people (cell phones). The second wave has been connecting people to information (smartphones). The third wave is now connecting people to things (the internet of things). With the outer world well-connected, it is time to connect billions of people to their inner selves and explore what is the Fourth Frontier.
Bhushan said, “Over three-and-a-half years of research and development are behind the launch of Frontier X, which has been lab-tested and validated in trials by runners at World Marathon Majors and other races around the world. Frontier X provides users with detailed physiological data that previously was only available in testing through sports medicine labs and doctor’s offices. Fourth Frontier has filed four patents related to Frontier X and has made presentations at medical conferences in the United States and Europe.”
Frontier X retails at $499. Look for special early-bird pricing of $399 at the TCS NYC Marathon Expo from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2. Purchasers during the Expo will receive a collector’s edition product box personally autographed by Paula Radcliffe.
Learn more: www.fourthfrontier.com #FrontierX #MeasureWhatMatters
Sports Techie, racers from around the world are in NY to run or wheelchair on one of the most famous courses in the United States as they speed over the Verrazano Bridge, then run through 5 boroughs, finishing up the challenging course at the Central Park grandstands.
Is Frontier X really necessary for marathoners, IronMan racers and Ultras?
“Frontier X is a gamechanger. It was built to solve long-standing problems that athletes have had for decades. Am I training and racing at the optimum intensity level? Am I pushing my heart too hard? Am I overtraining or undertraining? These are questions that cannot be answered well with a wrist-worn device because the answers are best found close to the heart and lungs. Our revolutionary chest-worn device uses technologies built for smartphones but applies it in the context of human performance and health. It is extremely satisfying to see legends like Paula Radcliffe believing in our product, philosophy and purpose,” added Sibal.
The sports technology industry is truly international as Fourth Frontier proves. The company is based in the US and India, the endorsers hail from the UK, while the first event showcase is the TCS NYC Marathon featuring runners and coaches from around the globe.
I love seeing the trend of wireless wearables connecting people via the IoT to devices like Frontier X for improved health, training and performance. In this case, endurance athletes that want to train better and in a healthier fashion can measure breathing rate effort and heart health enabling optimizing training loads.
See you at the finish line with a Frontier X!
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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