Doha-based sportstech startup launches AI-backed smart clothing

September 15, 2020

Understanding the need for athletes and sports enthusiasts to monitor their health and physical performance when training, a Doha-based sports technology startup has developed an AI-backed smart clothing which aims to do the tracking job without the hassle of putting on bulky devices and trackers.

According to market data, by 2025, the estimated local market size of Qatar’s sports data and analytics is estimated to reach QR21m; while sports merchandising is expected to reach QR17m.

In an interview with The Peninsula recently, Torq Labs CEO and Founder Julian Holtzman (pictured), said: “We had the idea back in 2016, and that’s when we developed the first prototype. And since then it’s been sort of a long road of how do we get from this idea into a commercially viable product. So we developed this wearable technology that is able to monitor the body through any sort of repetitive motion activity. We take the data and help people understand the health of their bodies, and how their body is performing. We can analyse an athlete’s fatigue ratio, so the odds of preventing injuries are dramatically higher. With our technology we can keep players healthy on the field”.

To date, Torq Labs has developed a full biomechanical non-invasive product suit, which includes smart leggings, smart tops, and smart sensors with the use of artificial intelligence.

The company, which is part of the second cohort of the Qatar SportsTech’s (QST) accelerator programme, also has a wide network of partners globally.

“Our leggings are made in Paris. Our technology is made in Portugal. Our company is Latvian and I am an American,” said Holtzman.

Locally, the startup eyes partnerships with Aspetar and the Aspire Academy, in addition to the gyms and professional sports teams in the country. Torq Labs is also groomed to be registered under the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), added Holtzman.

He said: “Qatar has got a lot of the right things that will help us grow quickly and in this region, especially with the popularity of cricket and football. We’re planning to expand regionally and internationally. Especially with the sports market anticipated to reach $1.2 trillion. This includes the stadiums, fan engagement, health, wearables, and sports technology”.

Much of the products developed by Torq Labs are heavily reliant on AI. Holtzman said the company plans to introduce more AI-based technologies to the market.

“AI is only going to become more and more integrated. In some respects I think there’s some cautions we need to have. We can’t just throw AI at anything, because we don’t know how far AI could take itself. But in controlled environments I think it can provide a lot of benefits for understanding and having predictive capabilities especially when it comes to the body.”

“We’re going to introduce more AI capabilities that can monitor the health of the people so we can start to have a better and clearer picture of how the whole human body functions. If we can understand how the body develops, and where it starts to falter over time. I think that can be a great contribution to science, and people in general. That’s the long-term goal, can we better understand how our bodies perform so that we can make better decisions about how we live,” Holtzman added.

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