A UT-Scientist Invention has Helped Gerd Kanter to Enter the Global Market
UT scientists are working on a breakthrough development that will make the technology that helped discus throw champion Gerd Kanter available to recreational users around the world
This article was first published in Estonian in the joint science news portal of UT and Äripäev (the Estonian business daily) on August 25, 2008.
Supported by funding from the EU, the private limited company OÜ Müomeetria -maker of the Myoton, a unique medical diagnostics device invented by Estonian scientists -is about to develop a new version of the device that will bring the underlying technology to recreational users and win recognition for the company's brand across the globe.
According to Andrus Oks, managing director of OÜ Müomeetria, to date the principal users of the device that monitors the health of muscles have mainly been medical professionals, international research institutions and professional athletes. For instance, Gerd Kanter, the Estonian discus thrower who recently won a gold medal in the Beijing Olympic Games, has used Myoton technology. In contrast, the next-generation device is intended for everyday use by laymen and recreational sports practitioners.
"We believe that in the future Myoton LITE will become a training companion as common as Polar or Suunto sports watches are today. While one of the main functions of sports watches is measuring the pulse rate during exercise, Myoton LITE allows you to monitor the effect of exercise on your muscles," explains Andrus Oks.
Myoton LITE will make it possible for users to assess the condition of their muscles without any previous medical training. The device will display the result of the measurements performed and transmit the underlying data over a wireless connection to your computer for further diagrams and analyses.
Myoton LITE offers information about the intensity of physical exercise, and helps to avoid overtraining and injuries. In the case of an injury, the device will help to monitor the healing process of muscles and to determine the time when training can recommence. Developers of the device hope that the training programme designed for recreational users will have an impact on their health behaviors, inspiring them to be physically more active. The developers are convinced that seeing a numerical result to efforts will increasethe motivation to exercise.
"We participated in the EU's Eurostars programme, in which experts screened hundreds of technological applications to select the most promising ones. The fact that our company's funding application for 16.5 million kroons was among those selected brings a serious recognition to Estonia. It reflects a serious international interest in our previous achievements and future aspirations," said Andrus Oks.
In terms of appearance, Myoton LITE is intended to resemble a cell phone. To tackle the technological challenges involved, the company will cooperate with a number of partners, including the clinical trials department of the Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Finland, the Italian company Diagnostic Support s.r.l., the University of Tartu and PDD Innovations Ltd (the latter as a consultant). Nevertheless, Müomeetria will retain all rights to the device developed as a result of the joint effort.
As for its technological concept, Myoton LITE will be based on the current version of Myoton, which is used as medical diagnostics device in applications such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, workplace health and safety, and sports medicine. The device measures three principal parameters of muscles - tone, elasticity and stiffness. These parameters detail the performance ability of muscles, speed of restoration, and blood flow.
Through Müomeetria's co-operation partners, the product is currently represented in 10 export markets and has also been sold elsewhere in the world via direct contacts. One of the most important groups of Myoton users are physical therapists and coaches from various sports teams and research institutes, including the Estonian Ski Association, the Estonian Sports Medicine Foundation, Vilnus University Hospital (Lithuania), the Italian Olympic Committee and Gomel State University of Belarus.
Currently, sports research and experiments involving the Myoton are being conducted in several world-class research institutions, such as the Jyväskylä Sports Medicine Centre, Sydney University of Technology in Australia, INSERM in France and the University of Tartu. Müomeetria's most recent co-operation partner is Beijing Sports University, which invested 1.5 million kroons to set up a Myoton laboratory.
Chinese scientists have already launched a series of studies involving use of the Myoton to monitor the muscle condition of Chinese kick boxers, divers and gymnasts.