US startup develops smart clothing for athletes in Qatar

Peter Algos

May 9, 2020

Bringing research-grade technology to Qatar and the GCC region

Athletes in Qatar are expected to benefit from smart clothing being developed by a US-based sports tech startup, which is part of the accelerator programme of Qatar SportsTech (QST).

Founded in Riga, Latvia in 2018, Torq Labs is a company specialising in wearable technology, sports science, and connected clothing, said Torq Labs CEO and co-founder Julian Holtzman.

“Developing the world’s first full-body injury prevention smart clothing line, Torq Labs aims to bring research-grade technology into the dynamic outdoors to help athletes at all levels practice and perform smarter and safer,” Holtzman told Gulf Times.

He said the mission of Torq Labs is to reduce the number of preventable bodily injuries that occur naturally or as a result of improper rehabilitation. To do this, the company created “the first high-performance clothing line” that uses non-invasive, wireless sensor technology to provide users real-time performance and health monitoring artificial intelligence and cloud computing tools.

“Since coming to Qatar, we were fortunate enough to organise pilot studies with the Aspetar Rehabilitation Facility, as well as the Aspire Academy in Doha,” Holtzman pointed out.

“With Qatar having invested heavily in its sports industry and having the first specialised sports medicine hospitals in the Gulf region (Aspetar), this paves the way for sports tech startups, such as Torq Labs, to come in and support the training and rehabilitation of current and future athletes in Qatar,” added Heba al-Masri, managing director at QST, which works with beIN SPORTS and the World Cup Committee 2022 to develop new sports technologies.

Holtzman explained that each piece of Torq smart clothing, whether top or bottom, can up to have five lightweight, low-power wireless sensors performing in them. The sensors connect using a proprietary Bluetooth protocol to a mobile device and web application for live streaming and analysis visualisations. The innovation reduces the need for face to face contact by the patient and rehabilitation provider or the athlete and coach.

The objective of Torq smart clothing is to reduce the rate of injury and re-injury by making people aware of how their body is performing, so they can be proactive about preventing injuries.

“We have integrated artificial intelligence and cloud processing tools to help people perform their exercises and rehabilitation remotely. Torq smart clothing helps professional sports clubs monitor the health and performance of the athlete through any activity,” Holtzman stressed.

“We are looking forward to resuming our plans once the Covid-19 crisis is over. However, the outbreak has presented us with a unique opportunity. Because we are a clothing manufacturer, we have been able to modify our supply chain to make protective masks and other PPE to help out with the global shortage.

“In addition, our smart clothing product is capable of allowing rehabilitation doctors to monitor their patients remotely, such as to cut down the need for public interactions. We are speaking to local clinics about opening this up as an alternative method of providing care,” Holtzman added.