the Craft of healthy movement
Bend is a beautiful way to both overcome and prevent injury - for novice and professional running, Pilates, Bar, Yoga, Golf, Soccer and any activity requiring core alignment. A beautifully crafted solution to a real problem, Bend demonstrates artisanship purposefully blended with technology. A lifestyle garment first, technology garment second. This concept apparel project uses flexible sensing technology to provide a personal approach to physical performance. All without sacrificing aesthetics and personal style. The more precise one can move, the faster one improves fitness and overall health. By alleviating incorrect physical movement, Bend can help counteract chronic pain or even long-term damage.
Bend represents the future of the apparel industry. As sensor innovation continues, and as the price of that technology continues to fall, consumers should expect products like Bend to become standard. Integrating technology into garments does not have to be cumbersome or flashy. When technology is purposely blended with craft, authentically beautiful products like Bend are made possible.
The bend Experience
Sense, measure and correct
Bend has integrated stretch sensors in the knee that can measure curve, impact and torque – particularly important for assessing knee alignment, helping to prevent problems such as "runner's knee." The pants analyze the sensor data to determine if the knee is within a healthy range. If so, the pants let you know.
Fixing knee alignment isn't just about twisting the knee back where it's supposed to be. Often other muscle areas – typically the hips and glutes – are involved. Bend also includes sensors in your hips. When the garment detects knee misalignment, it determines if the hips and glutes are the cause and gives you feedback to help correct the issue.
Feedback in the moment
Subtle vibration components in the knee and hip area give a gentle tap in the area that needs adjustment when the knee is out of alignment. For example, if a knee is torquing due to a disengaged glute muscle, one will feel a gentle and discreet pulse near the hip indicating the need to engage the muscle to adjust the knee. This is felt only by the wearer – in real-time – so that adjustments can be made in the middle of a movement, such as running or weight training.
Elegantly integrated technology
Bend is not just something you need to wear; it is clothing you want to wear. Its technology is invisible and part of the design aesthetics. The garment’s shiny stretch material is designed specifically for the stretch sensors. The fabric runs the circuitry from the sensors and vibration components up the sides of the garment and into the processor in a hidden waistband pocket and shows a bright color when inserted correctly.
Bend connects and sends information to a mobile app via Bluetooth LE to help visualize how the body is aligning and what needs correcting. The app "timeline" shows changes over time. Wearers can log what they are doing during times of knee pain or comfort to help spot trends and improve performance.
The app provides suggestions from experts in instructional videos on how to correct based on Bend's movement assessments.
Electricfoxy is partnering with Denmark-based firm LEAP Technology in the development of Bend.
LEAP Technology specializes in development of soft "Rubber" sensors and actuators using the disruptive and versatile electroactive polymer (EAP) technology. They engineer technological solutions for products by customizing EAP sensors and actuators. They have over 25 years of collective industrial experience with all aspects of proof of concept and product development.
Scientists and engineers have long been searching for active materials which exhibit similar characteristics to natural muscle i.e. being soft and comfortable, light weight and accurately controllable. Such a material enables an effective replacement of conventional sensors and actuators typically made from stiff, clunky materials. In this search for an artificial equivalent of muscle, electroactive polymers (EAP) have gained considerable attention as they come closest to the characteristics of natural muscle.
Sensors and actuators developed by LEAP Technology can be used in various industrial sectors including wearable electronics as motion capture sensors and haptics. In wearables, the inherent features of EAP sensors and actuators enable unobtrusive and robust functionality, without compromising product performance.
Get more info on LEAP Technology sensor and actuators here.
the story of bend
Out of alignment
Jennifer Darmour, Electricfoxy owner, is integral to the Bend concept and lead her team of artisans toward the innovation and creation of Bend. Here's her inspiration behind the project.
Jennifer is an avid runner. After years of racing, her body had fallen out of alignment, and her knees were rolling in toward each other. She started to experience intense knee pain. She consulted a physical therapist whose diagnosis was “runner’s knee,” otherwise known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, which accounts for up to 40% of the knee complaints in sports medicine clinics. (source)
The root of the mis-alignment started in the glutes, which weren’t engaging correctly. She had to stop thinking about turning her knee and start focusing on engaging her glutes in a way that would turn the knee naturally. Not only did she need to hold her body the right way while moving, she also had to learn to hold it like this in a natural resting position. Eventually, this worked, and Jennifer’s knee pain went away.
Besides being an avid runner, Jennifer is an accomplished technology product designer. Having put so much thought and research into ways to help with precision in body movement, she wondered if there was a technology solution to “runner’s knee.” And Bend was born.
prototyping and reserch
From the placement of the sensors to the aesthetic integration, the product was born from numerous conversations and interviews with both novice and professional runners, physical therapists, doctors, and professional sports instructors who specialize in body movement.
Concepting & Design
The product went through various rounds of concepting and design in collaboration with engineers and apparel engineers to determine the most integrated approach to the sensors and electronics as well as the most optimal fabrics for performance.
Electricfoxy is partnering with Denmark-based firm LEAP Technology in the development of Bend. We are in early stage development to determine accuracy, tuning, comfort and to conduct field testing.