In the post-pandemic era, people’s freedom of movement in the real world has been subject to some limitations, which to some extent has encouraged the development of interactive technologies and products to overcome physical limitations. As new tactile and biometric sensing technologies improve, more complex and realistic tactile experiences will emerge. Today, I will share some thoughts after experiencing my first EMS training with the ElecSuit – an electrotactile haptic suit.
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is the elicitation of muscle contractions through electrical impulses, a method of improving muscle tone, size and strength, and is cited by sports scientists as a complementary technique for sports training.
The EMS technology has gained popularity in portable home equipment because it stimulates muscles without overly tiring them. With electrical impulses acting on the muscles, you can theoretically complete an hour’s workout in 20 minutes.
For those unfamiliar with the differences between electrotactile and vibrotactile feedback: Vibro-simulators apply pressure to skin receptors, while electro-tactile stimulators act on nerve endings with electrical impulses in addition to skin receptors. Unlike vibrotactile feedback, which cannot provide depth and variety of sensations, electrotactile feedback can simulate almost any sensation, such as the texture of an object or the feel of a breeze. ElecSuit uses electrotactile feedback, a sense of touch based on electrical stimulation.
When I heard that I was to try out an EMS suit, I was a little reluctant. The main reason was that I had never worn such a tight suit, and I must admit that I had some doubts and stereotypes about these so-called EMS suit products. In my dictionary they are only for scientific researchers and professionals.
As soon as I put on the ElecSuit, all concerns were gone. It’s not as bulky and heavy as I expected, and there are no tangled wires. Since it’s winter, I put on an extra layer to work out, which proved to be very comfortable. The thin and lightweight materials fit perfectly. The fabric also offers SPF sun 50+ protection, making it suitable for outdoor workouts.
One of the main reasons why the ElecSuit is so thin is the company’s invented ElecSil conductive silicone electrode, which is bonded to the fabric and is only 0.15 mm thick, less than the thickness of two sheets of paper. ElecSil is not only thin and flexible but also washable and extremely durable. It has proven itself in more than 100 stretch tests.
They have also developed three VR games to help you get started. ElecSuit shows you exactly which muscles to focus on during your workout and gives you electro-tactile feedback on proper muscle positions as you play. Follow Me Yoga VR shows you directly and visually which muscles to focus on. In Squatscape you have to squat to escape, with different obstacles in each level. Red Light Green Light offers you a number of workout poses that will let you train different body parts. According to the company, you’ll also be able to connect ElecSuit to other VR games, as a software developer kit will be made available once funding is finalized.
You can activate and control the EMS workout mode via the official app or the included remote control. There are 15 levels of electrostimulation available with different workout modes. You can choose from walking, running, cycling or hiking, and even bodyweight or strength exercises. The app adjusts and optimizes the electrical waveform for each exercise. You can also activate the massage mode to help your muscles recover after a workout.
Overall, the ElecSuit is designed to make your workout fun, easy, and efficient, and you can use it for your workout at home or even outdoors. I personally was impressed with the ElecSuit and had a lot of fun with it, I think it’s definitely worth a purchase. A little advice to the team, how about developing a pair of gloves to complement the suit.