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New device from Harvard spin-out Bobo Analytics puts a workout monitor on your wrist

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 27, 2012 07:32 AM

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Just in case your New Year’s resolutions include something about exercise... I wanted to fill you in on one of the newest local startups working on a wearable fitness sensor, Bobo Analytics.

Based at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, Bobo is working on a wristwatch-like product that can monitor your heart rate and movement, and help you get the most from your workouts. As founder and CEO Will Ahmed puts it, “The chest strap that monitors heart rate is a 30-year old technology, and people don’t wear it all the time. We want to understand what’s happening on a daily basis.”

The current prototype, pictured at right, has two optical sensors that come in contact with your skin to collect data about your pulse, as well as an accelerometer to monitor motion (in part to know when the heart rate sensors are getting good data, and when you may be moving too vigorously for them to be accurate.) Ahmed says that the company is also testing sensors for skin temperature and perspiration. The Bobo device can send data via Bluetooth to a nearby phone, tablet, or laptop, letting users log their data over time.

boboteam.jpgAhmed isn’t yet talking about a target price for the device, but he says the company may initially market it through coaches and trainers. “They often have athletes or clients that are overtraining or undertraining,” he says. “They want to be able to monitor that, even when they’re not physically there for a workout. How intense was it? When are you recovered from it?”

Ahmed earned his undergrad degree from Harvard earlier this spring, and he also captained the squash team there. Product development engineer Aurelian Nicolae also graduated from Harvard this year, and chief technology officer John Capodilupo is taking time off from his studies there. (Ahmed and Nicolae are at left.)

Ahmed says the company has already raised about $300,000 in seed funding, and may look to raise more soon. The company name, Bobo, is intended to sound like a heartbeat.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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