May 17, 2022

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Half the Automotive

Inpulse Cycling Pants Zap Your Muscles With Electricity as You Ride

Cycling pants can do more than just keep you warm / cool, make you visible in traffic and make your ride a tad smoother through padding. A UK-based startup believes they can also help you control and directly stimulate muscles – by zapping them.

Inpulse is a startup founded by PhD student Devon Lewis, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Southampton. Its first product will be a pair of smart cycling pants that will use sensors, AI and electrical current to help athletes improve their performance and theoretically give them an edge over rivals in competition.

Speaking to The Times (via Cycling Weekly), Lewis says that humans can’t control muscles naturally, except to a very limited degree. The Inpulse shorts would help with that because, while riding, sensors would pick up which muscles need stimulating. The embedded AI would then dispatch electric current specifically to those muscles, via an embedded network of wires.

Of course, the “zapping” won’t feel like you’re being electrocuted, the researcher tells the publication. “It’s the same thing as when you eat spicy food and you get that little rush. It feels strange when you first start using it but you adapt to it quite quickly,” he explains. Inpulse is also making sure chances of being zapped by mistake are null.

The cycling pants come with a companion app, which helps riders visualize progress. Inpulse has announced an April 2021 release for both, with The Times saying joggers and regular gym-goers will get an adapted version next yet. As of the moment of press, other details are not available.

That said, whatever competitive edge these shorts would give cyclists remains to be seen. As Cycling Weekly points out, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has strict rules in terms of preventing unfair advantage, even measuring the height of cyclists’ socks to ensure fairness. Letting them use smart pants to stimulate muscles for enhanced performance seems unlikely.