Idro, the Belgian who wants to fight against burning legs

The Belgian start-up Idro is developing a technology capable of measuring the level of lactate in the muscles in real time. Crucial data to improve the performance of endurance athletes. The company hopes to hit the market this summer.

The sensation has already necessarily crossed the legs of all budding cyclists. While you only have a handful of meters left to do on this too steep hill, your legs have had enough and are showing it. This nasty pain that often lasts a few pedal strokes comes from thelactic acid, produced by muscles during exercise. If this ‘metabolic waste’ is not abnormal during major efforts, the kings of the pedal would do without it.

This sweet dream may not be unattainable. Since 2020, the Belgian company Idro has been seriously working on the issue. Based in Brussels, the young company is developing a technology whose mission is to measure the level of lactate in the muscles. The company is currently finalizing the first version of a sensor to be placed on the skin, directly on the active muscle. “We analyze the sweat and in particular its pH”, summarizes Maarten Gijssel, the CEO of the company. “The information is then translated into a signal that is sent in real time by Bluetooth to a smartphone.”

Find the limit to reach

“The information given by the sensor will tell athletes how far they can go without exceeding the limit of the risk of injury.”

Maarten Gijssel

CEO of Idro

If the technology proves reliable, it could quickly become a very useful tool for runners and cyclists. “The information given by the sensor will tell athletes how far they can go without exceeding the limit and risking injury,” says the manager.

Still at the finalization stage, the technology could be available this summer. “We called on dozens of athletes to do our tests,” says the boss, who can also count on in-house knowledge. Among its workers, Idro counts in particular Kevin Van Hoovels, currently a PhD student at the University of Genk. Before his university career, he was doing quite well on a bike since he was one of the best mountain bike riders in Belgium. In 2012, he was even one of our Belgian representatives at the Olympic Games, in mountain bike.

The company hopes to quickly convince in the professional world. For this, Idro puts forward son efficiency and its real-time transmission of data. “Today, the most common way to do it is to perform a blood test, which therefore necessarily requires you to stop your effort and which requires a few minutes of analysis”, advances Maarten Gijssel. The athletes targeted in priority will be endurance specialists. “We are particularly interested in runners and cyclists who are already used to analyzing this type of data. But in the long term, we also want to affect team sports”, launches the boss.

First for the pros

However, technology should be confined to the professional world, at least initially. Count several hundred euros to get the sensor. A justified price, according to the CEO. “It is still relatively inexpensive. Currently, a single blood test is already in these amounts. Our sensor is reusable and can measure the lactate level in real time for eight hours.”

“We are looking for a million euros at the moment. But if we opt for the BtoC model, we will probably seek more funds.”

Maarten Gijssel

CEO of Idro

In terms of its future deployment, Idro intends to attack Benelux, France and the Nordic countries as a priority. “But we already have demand elsewhere, in Italy and Slovakia in particular,” assures the CEO. The speed of deployment will depend on the strategy chosen by the group. “We want to launch the first sales in the summer. After having sold the first production, we will judge whether it is more efficient to go through BtoB only or if it is better to also go through direct sales to consumers”, details the responsible. Anyway, the company is already preparing its production and is currently bringing together investors to prepare for the rest of the adventure. “We are looking for a million euros at the moment. But if we opt for the BtoC model, we will undoubtedly seek more funds, because sales will be higher quickly”.

The summary

  • Lactic acid, in high doses, can “cut” the legs in full effort, causing severe pain.
  • The Belgian start-up Idro is developing a sensor, to be placed on the skin, directly on the muscle.
  • The sweat (in particular its pH) is then analysed.
  • The acid level is then sent in real time to the athlete’s smartphone.
  • This effort management tool could become very useful, especially for professional cyclists

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