Five questions for the athletes making wearables you won't take off

MC10's most notable projects -- the Checklight head-impact tracker that protects athletes from the effects of dangerous collisions and a Biostamp "seamless sensing sticker" -- are already at the forefront of sports and medicine technology. Isaiah Kacyvenski and Angela Ruggiero are experienced athletes on the company's sports advisory board, tasked with figuring out ways to use technology to optimize athletic performance. That's certainly great news if you're an athlete in an impact sport trying to avoid the after effects of concussions, or a blogger getting punched in the face by your coworkers. But what about everyone else? Kacyvenski and Ruggiero will join me at Engadget Expand on November 8th for a discussion on how the new technology can help us stay healthy, and ensure that our workouts are refined to get the most impact. You can tune in or attend the event for free, but check after the break for a quick preview, and let us know if you have any questions that need answering.

What can technology bring athletes, at any level, to improve their training and results?

Isaiah: I was constantly looking for that extra fraction of a second, how to increase performance and elongate my career. Now you have data points, and can answer the question: "What led up to that amazing play?" The way it translates to the average person is with the accuracy. If you can say, "This is accurate; I'm confident in the device" then just let the sensors tell the story, without having to filter through a thousand algorithms to figure out what it all means.

Angela: I'd add to that, the idea of hitting objective measures. In a team sport, you have feedback from coaches, and other athletes about how you're training. Now you can have that effect based on data and interpreted, even if you're not a part of a team. MC10's approach is to pick up all of the data that makes up the question of "Why are you tired today?" How much did you sleep? How much did you have to drink, etc.

Isaiah: One of the things Angela and the sports advisory board came up with, is that there's always a question whether you've trained enough? As a result, especially among elites, overtraining is a major problem. It shoots yourself in the foot and is a theme that comes out across different sports. With more information and immediate feedback, we can avoid that.

How can technology fill in the gap for someone who doesn't have a coach, a trainer or a team to work out with?

Angela: Whether it's a team with a coach or an individual, an athlete out of season or a weekend warrior trying to get fit, what's key is that you can track your progress. Seeing data over a period of time as opposed to just a moment is what lets you see real results, and compare what you were doing. It's hard for most people to synthesize their results, as progress comes slowly we can account for what's happening over a longer period, and simplify it, depending on what you capture.

What I loved as an athlete was that the coach would tell you "run from A to B," and you didn't have to think about it to get an objective measurement. Now we can connect it and compare to others, see data about what elite athletes or anyone else is doing. "Oh, I walked a thousand more steps than yesterday," or, "Oh wow, Isaiah walked x number of steps" because he's in training.

Isaiah: One of the key phrases I have is that we must democratize the lab. What I mean by that, is to take all the learning of the lab, the heavy equipment, and bring that to people from elite athletes all the way to weekend warriors. It can be almost like having a coach; the technology is a companion for you. If it can look at a running back, for example, look at gait, cadence and foot-striking then give real-time feedback, it can fill the role of a coach.

What's one way the tech that's coming out today could've helped you, or other athletes in situations you saw during your career?

Isaiah: I was a cramper, and it would've helped for me to understand my level of hydration, and the composition of electrolytes I needed. With accurate data, it takes all of the guesswork out of it. Another thing is rehab -- I had eight surgeries during my career, and I'm up to 10 now. Now we can start to ask, "How do I quantify rehabilitation?" [and] "How close am I coming back from an injury?" You can actually know -- you're 92 percent to getting back to where you were before.

Angela: I 100 percent agree on rehab -- finding out how much muscle mass came back, or how much mobility. I'd also add concussion information. I don't know how many I had, because we didn't track it. But we know now that being able to see that kind of information is very important.

Isaiah: Definitely, we can know the impacts registered, and the amount of the impact over time.

What tech that's currently on the market really sticks out to you?

Isaiah: The Misfit Shine is interesting to me. Why are we always measuring running from the wrist? Why not measure from the source, the leg or whatever. Being able to move the sensor around is interesting, and it will take a game-changing form factor to change that.

Do you think the growth of technology right now, and especially sports tech, is similar to how Nike and others have taken specialized sports equipment to a wider market?

Angela: If you take a look around, every person, and every kid has a phone and loves gadgets. So even beyond the world of sports, they're used to getting instant gratification, and everyone wants that. So being able to get immediate feedback from your training, and knowing if it's resulting in positive or negative gains is definitely the next big thing.

Isaiah: People are starting to understand that there is data pouring off of your body, 24/7. The age is coming where we're going to be able to capture that data for an extended period of time, and let you know when you're getting off the path. Soon, people will be able to see the warning signs that lead to injuries, things like diabetes or heart disease.