Body Blow! Body Blow! Counting Punches With Wearables for Boxers


Virgil Hill (L) from the USA and Fabrice Tiozzo (R) from France duke it out during a WBA Light-Heavyweight World Championship. Wearable technology designed for boxers could give pros and amateurs alike more data on their performance, measuring things l...  Dimitri Lundt/TempSport/Corbis
Virgil Hill (L) from the USA and Fabrice Tiozzo (R) from France duke it out during a WBA Light-Heavyweight World Championship. Wearable technology designed for boxers could give pros and amateurs alike more data on their performance, measuring things l... Dimitri Lundt/TempSport/Corbis

Wearable technology is everywhere now, and one of those devices might even improve your uppercut.

Khalil Zahar, CEO and founder of the wearable tech company Hykso (pronounced hik-soh), had been boxing for about five years, and while training he became frustrated at the lack of measurable results in the sport.

"If you're doing weight lifting, you know exactly if you're lifting more than a month ago. If you're a long distance runner, you know exactly if you can run your 10 kilometres faster than before. But in boxing, nothing," he said in an interview with BetaKit. So he gathered a team and set to work developing Hysko.

The device, also called Hykso, is basically Fitbit for your fists, measuring everything from punch speed to strike intensity to the number and type of punches. It wasn't an easy task.

"Accurate and reliable punch identification is a really difficult problem. Boxing is an extremely fast-paced, dynamic sport. Some of the athletes we work with can throw more than 6-10 punches in one second and from a multitude of different angles. To add to that, you have an opponent that is constantly bombarding our sensors with punches from the other end, which creates a lot of noise that has to be erased," explains Tommy Duquette, a co-founder of the company, via email.

Hysko, the device, is made up of two small 8.5-gram sensors that slide into a boxer's hand wraps, using accelerometers and gyroscopes to track movement. These sensors sync via Bluetooth to a mobile app, which then analyzes and visualizes the data. The information is tracked and shared with the app in real time, so coaches and trainers can apply that data in the middle of a bout, something they tried last month at a New England Fights event in Lewiston, Maine.

The idea is already a hit (ha!). A number of boxing gyms have picked up the device, along with World Boxing Association champion Javier Fortuna, up-and-coming welterweight prospect 'Speedy' Rashidi Ellis and Canadian Caroline Veyre, Pan American Games champ. As an amateur, you can even follow the training programs of professionals, adopt their drills and compare your stats against theirs.

"When we talk to boxers they tell us that they have been waiting for our product since before they knew it existed. We know that athletes in other sports are craving similar solutions, and we plan to be the Nike of athletic performance-tracking," Duquette says, mentioning that the company has plans outside of boxing in the future.

Hysko is starting out with a limited run, only being released to 3,000 people initially. The first batch, which comes with a charging station, will start shipping out in June 2016. If you want one, you can get them on Hysko's website through the end of March.



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