FitTech Insider

Do we need Smart Body Devices to reconnect with our bodies, Rainer Beck?

Rainer Beck has a vision for a healthier society: Those who train with connected EMS suits have the opportunity to regain or increase the awareness for their bodies. His goal: Workouts with more health relevance through direct biofeedback.

There is only one trend that is more popular: online training. According to a survey of the American College of Sports Medicine, Wearble Technology ranks second in the Top 20 Fitness Trends 2021. Symbiont has combined these market trends with its mobile Smart Body Suit, the company connects EMS training with biophysical data measurement. Objective data such as HRV, EMG, or pulse can thus be compared with the subjective feeling of the person training. By understanding movement and correlations, individual training can be optimized, according to Rainer Beck, Symbionts' Director of Sales & Business.

Rainer Beck@ FitTech Summit V: Tech or Die!

On November 8-9 2021, the FitTech Summit Episode V is going live with a fully digital edition, with two days full on insights devoted to the future of fitness and health in the post-pandemic world. We are pleased that Rainer will be part of this event. Get a free ticket now!

Whose problems or needs are you trying to solve with your product?
A high percentage of people are more or less dissociated with their bodies, they have no or little body awareness. For example, there is no awareness of what is “a lot” or “little” weight or how much the muscles are actually tensed. Every movement is always a newly controlled process, there are no repetitions. Without being aware of this fact and fully understanding this, we then wonder why people might not be motivated in the gym or generally when it comes to training. Whether someone is a beginner in sports or a professional athlete, whether training is rehabilitative or preventative - in the end, it is always a body with certain conditions. The better you can capture these and the more you are able to trigger and stimulate them, the better and faster are the effects and measurable results.

Rainer Beck about his product: “We stimulate the muscle and track data from the muscle in return. This allows the trainee to know how intensively his muscle is working.” (@symbiont)

Tell us more about your product... How does your solution work?
The basic product is an individualized and mobile suit, where the technical part is clicked in and connected to the software on a tablet or mobile phone. Basically, it's the first Smart Body Device in the world. Smart because : We combine EMS with low and medium frequency as stimulation options with the ability to measure data such as heartbeat, pulse, or heart rate variability and more options to come. What's most exciting about this is EMG: we stimulate / activate the muscle and track data from the muscle in return. This allows the trainee to know how intensively his muscle is working. This auto-sensitive training, in the sense of combining objective values with subjective feelings, is probably the fastest way to learn to increase your awareness and mindfulness.

So what is the benefit of this measurement for the exerciser?
It's like direct biofeedback - you see what you're actually doing. Your effort or the activation of your muscle is reflected in a picture. The better you know what your movement means, the more likely you are to then reasonably target your training to it. The same is true in the opposite direction: not maximum tension, but relaxation. As a trainee, you have data sovereignty and direct access to your measurements. So you can decide what to do with your data - whether you share it with a trainer, or with the facility, you're working with.

What will be the next feature?
One of the next features will be the integration of body composition. There will also be different programs for different goals. This will include playfulness: I can learn to tense and relax at different percentages. Harmonious movement, whether in martial arts, soccer or tennis, always depends on muscle chains that are accelerated or decelerated. Through this inter- and intramuscular coordination, movements in general will  be improved customer convenience on a finger tip.

Rainer Beck about the business model: "Gyms purchase, customers rent"
Symbiont is permanently under development: while scienced based programs are used in the market new programs and features are under development. In the future, however, the company will work with a mixture of license and rental models, depending on the respective markets and target groups. While gym operators will be able to purchase a license for the suit, customers will be able to rent it. A purchase option is not yet planned: "Ultimately, we are concerned with low entrance barriers and also acting in the spirit of sustainability and a material cycle," says Rainer Beck. Due to its complexity, the suit is very costly to manufacture. "As a certified medical device, Symbiont, unlike other EMS products, must meet certain quality standards and control obligations."

Where do you think your market is going?
The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we make society healthier and how does a workout gain health relevance? How do we create customer journeys that are exciting, thrilling and help customers to stay motivated and develop their performance? What interfaces will excite different customers and also operators, what new business models can be developed and what will be best use of AI in the future? I think activities need to become measurable and replicable. The two big parameters that will be relevant in the future to meet people's new needs are technology and psychology, especially behavior development.

You talk about the need for more awareness of our health. What role could your product play in this trend?
On the one hand, our product is in line with the "bring your own device" concept: you can put it on, go to the gym with it, or train outdoors. It's also possible to connect with your trainer online or join an online class. According to the principle "anything, anytime, anywhere" it will help you to know more about the quality of your own activities. On the other hand, our measurements will help to motivate to exercise. I think one of the requirements to exercise are smart goals that are attractive, measurable, and scheduled for me personally.

"How do we make society healthier and how does a workout gain health relevance?" – Rainer Beck

Who are your biggest competitors?
Our biggest competitor is the lack of knowledge -in the population in general - about personal health and performance and how it is connected with individual habits and our day to day behaviour, as well as the unwillingness to take responsibility for our own health. If we can't manage to be more responsible with our own health, we probably won't manage to do so with our planet. Everything I perceive about myself opens up completely new horizons and connections.

An example?
If I change the intensity and volumes of my training, my food choices will probably also change over time (Somatic intelligence). In principle, the goal must be, that the next big pandemic becomes a “health pandemic”: If we can infect each other with viruses that make us sick, we can also “infect each other with thoughts and ideas that make us healthy”.