I still remember when a little German company called SRM came out with this ghetto looking crankset that measured power on a bicycle. It was so novel even some expert physiologists wondered what you’d do with the data. Back then heart rate, cadence and speed were considered the benchmarks of training data and even the measurement of those was not widely adopted, never mind the training methods and protocols to get the most out of them. Fast forward a couple of decades, and no serious cyclist would consider training without power. Even the spin bikes at my local YMCA feature a power meter (calibration questions aside), and we are working on programs to utilize these data more comprehensively so that even casual riders can maximize their workout value and track their progress. Mainstream companies like Garmin and Polar have joined and been driving forces in the the ecosystem around cycling power measurement.
Of course bicycles lend themselves to the instrumentation that provide power, but other sports not so much. Enter Stryd. They have a campaign on Kickstarter to fund a power meter for runners. This could be huge – the ability to quantify not the runner’s speed or exertion, but the actual rate of work output – accounting for gradient, wind, etc. Given that I spend more time running than cycling these days, I just might have to get in on the campaign and be an early adopter.
More broadly I think this points to the ongoing desire to quantify health & fitness activities, and just like with cycling it will spawn a new generation of data applications and experts to make sense of it all. The forward thinking fitness businesses will be ready to capitalize on this when it goes mainstream.
You can learn more at their official website.