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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Kegels? There's an app for that.

The market for fitness apps is becoming more and more specialized, starting with basic GPS trackers to tracking data in disciplines like cycling, surfing, and nearly any other hobby. But potential Internet of Things entrepreneurs beware: the number of activities left untracked by your smartphone is getting smaller and smaller with the Indiegogo launch of LOOP, a fitness system for women. The company hopes to raise $50,000 to get the device onto the market.

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“The overall aim of LOOP is to motivate more women to do pelvic floor muscle exercises and to keep doing them daily,” says Line Andersen, cofounder and designer of LOOP. “Every design decision has been made with this in mind, to ensure LOOP is as user friendly as possible and facilitates the exercise without any obstacle.”

There’s no vibrating parts here – this isn’t a sex toy – but the device and paired smartphone app helps the user correctly contract and relax their pelvic floor muscles and measure it much more effectively than kegels. The system provides realtime feedback on your smartphone that can detect the slightest muscle movements to ensure you’re correctly lifting and not pushing. The paired app also has built-in training programs where you can try to beat your previous score to stay motivated.

What’s important about their real-time feedback is that many women (and men) have trouble exercising their pelvic floor because it’s not only tough to know if you’re doing it correctly, but it’s also tough to know if it’s actually working. Many people recommended to start end up quitting their exercises due to these reasons.

While some may use the system for intimate reasons, there’s also a good medical reason to get a good workout. According to the company, women experience health issues related to weak pelvic floor muscles, like incontinence, pelvic pain, and prolapse three times more often than men. Therefore, national health organizations in most countries recommend that women exercise their pelvic floor muscles every day.

With a better designed device LOOP is creating their own market. “The idea was to take this health thing out of the context of the medical or sex toy world. The usability [of vaginal probe sensors] is so bad that only people that are sick use it,” says cofounder Adam Scheuring.

Tech meets the sex industry

The company came together thanks to two random encounters. Cofounders Adam Scheuring worked with Anders Guldah at Energy Micro before it was acquired by Silicon Labs in 2013, where they developed super low energy microcontrollers for the fitness industry with customers like Misfit Wearables. Keeping up with health technology he came across MYO, the wearable that connects to your arm and senses what muscles you’re using in your hand for gesture control.

Googling around for the sensors used in MYO, Scheuring found they’ve been used by physical therapists for vaginal probes to test pelvic floor strength. But the devices themselves were awful – ugly medical devices with a chord sticking out and a poor display of results. Right then he knew there was a market opportunity to make something better, but another happy accident was at an Oslo meetup where he bumped into Line Andersen, the award winning Norwegian designer who along with Karianne Rønning Ellekrans have been making ergonomic sexual wellness products under the brand LAID for 5 years.

Realizing together they had the right technical skills and knowledge about ergonomic sexual devices they formed a team and came out with the device you see today.

Digging into the tech a little more, Scheuring is proud that the device runs off of a coin cell battery for a year, while most sexual health devices need to be recharged or have batteries replaced after two hours. The result is a more discrete device that doesn’t need to sit in a charger in your bathroom. “For a product targeting mothers or 30 40’s I’m really proud that a good technology decision enables good features,” says Scheuring.

Loop can be found on Indiegogo, here.

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