Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is nothing new. In fact, we've covered it before with products like Osim's USB-powered uPixie. SmartMio is the latest product to use it, but it's doing so with some twists. Most notable of these is the inclusion of Bluetooth to connect with smartphones for better control, and use while on the go.
In brief, EMS uses small electric shocks to tell the muscle to contract in a way that is similar to what the brain tells it to do during workouts. Contrary to what infomercials might say, it's not meant to be a replacement for actual physical activity, and SmartMio is not marketing its product as such. Instead, it is pushing its offering as something that supports an existing fitness program. Basically, it's meant to help get your muscles warmed up before an intense workout, help them recover after, and provide a small amount of activity during downtime.
SmartMio is able to connect through its iOS or Android app thanks to Bluetooth. From there, users are able to control the type of workout the device delivers. It will allow users to control the intensity of the programs as well. The app advises users of the types of activities that can be performed while running through a specific program, as some should not be done while moving around due to the risk of injury. Other notable promises for the app are the ability to set goals, and updates with new training programs.
Some examples of the types of programs include strength and endurance training, recovery and massage programs for after workouts, and warmups.
The device itself is aimed at being portable and easy to wear under clothes while performing some everyday activities. It's 14 mm thick, 60 mm long, and 43 mm wide (0.6 x 2.4 x 1.7 in). The team promises that the device will only weigh 25 grams (0.8 oz), which should be light enough to wear without feeling intrusive.
The shocks come from the electrode pads, which do have a limited lifespan according to the creators. The team estimates that each pad will last for about 20-30 stimulation sessions before needing to be replaced.
SmartMio is seeking funding on Indiegogo. It's well over half way to its US$50,000 goal with plenty of time left in its funding period. The team is offering a wide range of options to backers starting at $89 for the early bird special that includes one SmartMio device and four sets of electrode pads. The products are expected to be delivered to backers in November of 2014.
The pitch video below provides more information on SmartMio and its uses.