November 21, 2013
Next to California, Miami might be one of the best places to start a health- and fitness-related company. Dr. Jose Bohorquez, Dr. Seward Rutkove, and Juan Jaramillo find their day to day at Skulpt talking with people who really care about their personal fitness, or as they like to call them, early adopters.
But these early adopters are one of the final steps in a long journey. As a physician and researcher, Rutkove grew frustrated with the available options for measuring muscle health, so he embarked upon a mission 13 years ago to find a better way.
In fact, he didn’t even co-found Skulpt until he partnered with Bohorquez, an electrical engineer, in 2009. He was spending his time in collaboration with physicists at Northwestern University and engineers at MIT to develop and test the earliest prototypes of Electrical Impedance Myography (EIM).
In EIM, various electrodes are used to apply very small amounts of current directly to your muscles. Current flows differently in fat than in muscle, and it flows differently based on how fit a muscle is; this produces an MQ, or Muscle Quality.
Muscles that are stronger and leaner have a higher MQ because they have larger muscle fibers and less fat. Skulpt channeled this technology into a singular device, the Aim, to measure thousands of data points for each muscle.
“With Aim, you measure what actually matters: are you losing fat, and are your muscles becoming stronger and leaner?” asks Bohorquez. “Further, you see how individual muscles are doing, so you can detect if there are asymmetries between left and right muscles or if there are certain muscle groups you are neglecting.”
Proving to the rest of us just how important research is, the Skulpt team mapped out and studied four other major ways to measure body composition. The gold standard is Hydrostatic Weighing, where you are weighed underwater in a huge tank; it’s incredibly accurate, but inconvenient and horribly pricey.
Aside from that, there is Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), skinfold calipers, and Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA). However, these solutions are incredibly expensive, inaccurate, and sometimes embarrassing, respectively.
The Skulpt Aim was then designed to be more convenient and is the only device that can measure your MQ. They also rounded the experience out by implanting Bluetooth inside that transfers your personal information to a web dashboard for progress tracking and tailored fitness advice.
“Many people measure their weight to track their progress, but weight is not a good measure of physical fitness,” says Bohorquez. “Often, you gain weight even as you are losing fat and gaining muscle or vice versa.”
The time, effort, and patience that has been put into Skulpt is paying off for the team. They are currently making a huge Indiegogo push and won the CES Innovation Award this past year in the Health and Fitness Category.
“This is truly revolutionary technology and we believe it’s going to help people improve their health and fitness,” says Bohorquez. He sounds more than ready for the next long journey that lies ahead: getting mass appeal.
Skulpt was featured at Tech Cocktail’s Miami Mixer & Startup Showcase on October 1st.
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