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Wearable tech start-up launches US$200,000 crowdfunding campaign

Kiwi start-up I Measure U has launched a US$200,000 crowdfunding campaign today on Californian-based platform, Indiegogo, to raise funds to help manufacture its first wearable technology consumer product, offering discounted products as the return on investment.

The two-year-old company has developed a sensor that measures human body movement through physiologically-based mathematical models and it’s hoping to release a consumer product, IMU-Run, in the new year for runners. It works by the runner strapping the sensor to their ankle to transmit data to their smartphone or smartwatch, providing feedback on their technique while they are running to reduce the risk of injury.

Co-founders Mark Finch and Thor Beisier set up the company in May 2013 after the two bio-mechanics won the University of Auckland’s annual Spark challenge. It landed a A$250,000 two-year contract last year with Athletics Australia to develop wearable solutions for its elite athletes that measure training workloads to reduce the risk of injury and give better training techniques.

It has also been working with Harvard University bio-mechanst Dr Irene Davis, an expert on barefoot running mechanics, in a pilot study of wearable sensors for the US military.

The campaign pitch says up to 75 percent of runners experience injury each year, with many such injuries preventable with the right feedback. The IMU-Run product tracks the only metric scientists correlate with the risk of running injury – impact on the lower leg or tibial shock, it said. The app will work on android and iphones and has been endorsed by the US-based Runkeeper fitness platform which has more than 30 million users worldwide.

Finch said they originally planned to crowdfund on Kickstarter but ended up getting a better offer and more support from Indiegogo, one of the world’s first crowdfunding platforms. It charges a 9 percent fee, with 5 percent repayable if the target amount is raised in 30 days.

Those who pledge money receive a perk, rather than equity crowdfunding, where they get a share of the company raising money. In I Measure U’s case, the perk is the consumer running product priced at between US$79 and US$99 depending on how quickly the money is donated, which Finch said was a significant discount to the expected US$150 retail price.

The US$200,000 being raised is the bare minimum the company needs to manufacture its product at the scale it needs to launch next year. If the crowdfunding campaign succeeds, the company will then try to raise further seed capital to fund growth. To date the founders have mainly funded the company without taking on outside investment although Barnaby Marshall, co-founder of men’s fashion brand I Love Ugly, recently became its first angel investor, taking a 2.5 percent stake.

I Measure U’s next focus will be on adapting the sensor for use by swimmers, Finch being a former competitive swimmer.