Wearable technology, the team of Nextiles supports, is a bit of a misnomer. As currently envisioned, most wearables are just sensor modules placed on the body, but not really carries.
What the Brooklyn-based startup has devised is an innovative way to recreate these sensors in fabric by weaving circuits into clothing or other materials to imbue them with electrical properties.
“In fact, IP is not so much about materials – we are a materials science company, we build materials – but we have to agree that making conductive nothing is not new,” said Nextiles founder and CEO George Sun. “The IP we have is, ‘HOuch do you weave it or sew it in a pattern that makes it a sensor or a circuit?‘ ”
Sun earned a doctorate in bioengineering from MIT and collaborated on a project with Puma while working in the university’s design lab. While finishing his degree in 2018, he started Nextiles advancing the integration of technology into sport primarily through the universal garment: the garment.
Its first product is a baseball elbow pad called the KP sleeve which was produced in collaboration with KineticPro Performance, a technology-focused training company based in Tampa. The initial impetus to explore baseball began when Sun met an MIT student who was interning for an MLB pitcher. Sun did a few iterations of the cover art for this pitcher, which ultimately invested in the company (Nextiles declined to identify the launcher, citing an NDA).
A Nextiles arm sleeve is designed to track a pitcher’s exertion levels.
Nextiles also began supporting tennis, mixed martial arts and basketball athletes, the latter through his selection for the inaugural cohort of NBA launch. The company was also a finalist in the NFLit’s 1st and future pitch competition in 2020. Nextiles has its headquarters at the brooklyn Navy Yard, with a sewing shop in New Jersey. So far, he has raised a seed round entirely through individual investors, whose list he keeps private. Nextiles is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and works with the US Air Force and the National Science Foundation.
Arm and knee compression garments are in production with ongoing R&D on a sensor-woven sock that can provide ground reaction forces, among other measurements. Sun explains that Nextiles uses basic Newtonian principles to captureand biomechanical data such as forces, power, angles and angular velocity.
“The metrics we measure are mechanical, so we measure things like fabric stretch, fabric flex, fabric twist,” he says.
The expertise of Casey Mulholland, a former minor league pitcher who founded KineticPro Performance consists of coaching pitchers and increasing it with software tools. He builds the KP Connect app as a bespoke management system to guide training through multiple inputs. Mulholland was looking for hardware to track pitch count and effort.
Nextiles apps can help an athlete manage their load.
The existing product on the market – the Motus Sleeve which Driveline Baseball acquired and renamed Pulse – uses more conventional IMU sensors to produce while the data collection patch on the KP sleeve extends from the inside elbow to the outside elbow also covering sections of the forearm and triceps. Greater coverage allows for more direct measurement as opposed to algorithmic calculations (Nextiles adds a small detachable capsule in an inconspicuous place on clothing that houses the Bluetooth transmitter and a small battery).
“With their technologies, they provide us with these data points to be able to calculate the daily loadsays Mulholland. “And then from there, the really unique thing that we’ve done on the Connect app side – and what makes this cover unique for us – is that we have a lot of filters and a lot of structure in terms of computation and projection management of the athlete’s load and throw.”
These use cases are all still worn on the body, but Nextiles‘ hardware-independent intellectual property allows for a broader set of implementations. “We don’t like to call ourselves wearable tech“, explains John Peters, business manager at Nextiles. “I know this is what it looks like today, [but] we have many other projects with non-wearable traditional items.”
One of the first concepts is an alternative to the industry standard strength platform, a heavy data collection slab used by many elite sports teams for movement assessments and return to play protocols .
“We are leveraging our surface platforms for more modular and mobile force platforms“, says Peters. “When you think of a force rig, it’s very heavy, very expensive to ship, and you Homework Install it. were actually using pressure mat, so you can think of laying it down like a bath towel.”
An overview of woven circuit technology.
Once this technology is proven, it can be extended to larger and larger areas, in theory even to a full playing surface. It can also be sewn into any number of other fabrics.
“We were blown away by their IP and technology, and the range of use cases,” Tom, NBA basketball technology and innovation leader said Ryan. “When we saw their pitch, we thought it could help us with a ton of things. It’s literally just a material science endeavor making any fabric smart and capable of capturing force data.So,we thought about knee pads, we thought about hunting sleeves, we thought about socks, we thought about sheets – all those things.
Nextiles‘ The products are machine washable and can maintain all standard antimicrobial, antiperspirant attributes of modern sportswear. Targeted data collection remains the most practical option, but the circuit is scalable within certain limits.
“Because we use a sewing machine and have full control over how we build the garment from scratch, whether you just want a localized sensor on the elbow or something that completely encompasses your shoulder to your arm , We can do it“Said Sun. “We want be sensitive to aesthetics and the difficulty of manufacture. It’s much easier for us to identify what you want to measure rather than just giving you that Ironman suit.”