Kymira supercharging sportswear industry
Tim Brownstone went to university wanting to study whale neurology or infrared technology.
The university wouldn’t let him put a whale in the MRI scanner so he ended up studying animal bioscience instead.
Several years later his infrared sportswear brand Kymira is helping sports enthusiasts push themselves harder and recover quicker when exercising. Brownstone and his team have seen some incredible results in healthcare too.
The garments were born from Brownstone’s research into the biological effects of infrared technology. Through this, the team developed a way to put technology inside yarns so it can never escape or be washed out.
The clothing absorbs wasted energy from the body, invisible light and UV in the surroundings and converts it into infrared energy. It’s then reemitted by the fabrics and penetrates about 4cm into muscles, which in turn causes a host of biological reactions.
“It acts a bit like a supercharger does in your car,” says Brownstone. “It increases tissue oxygen levels by about 20 per cent which allows you to push harder, increase endurance or recover quicker from injury or fatigue.”
Brownstone says the intention was always to take the tech into a medical field. “Those are the applications that really motivate us,” he says.
“We’re now treating chronic arthritis, Reynaud’s syndrome, people with diabetic neuropathic foot pain, stroke victims. We’ve even got some really anecdotal evidence that it helps with Parkinson’s disease.
“There are two old chaps who couldn’t walk their dogs. Their wives bought them Kymira because I was giving a talk for the Women’s Institute and a few weeks later I find out they’re able to walk their dogs again.
"They’re gruff so they just say ‘it works, what more do you need to know?’ We haven’t been able to fund any studies to find out why, but something enabled that.”
The next goal for the company is embedding electronics into its fabrics in the same way as it does with infrared tech.
This will create garments, powered by users’ waste energy, that are able to detect medical emergencies like heart attacks in their early stages and contact the emergency services with the wearer’s location and diagnosis.
Preparing to get their medical certifications as they move more into health, the company has faced little in the way of regulation as a sportswear brand. However Brownstone says that the performance-enhancing aspect of the tech is not high enough to be likened to illegal doping.
“Some of the benefits, such as muscles being more relaxed and returning to a better state, that’s a lasting benefit,” he says.
“In terms of anything that’s directly performance-enhancing it would stop quickly because chemicals that build up in the body break down quickly. It’s also localised so if you’re wearing one of our tops it’s not going to increase circulation in your feet.”
Making the products accessible to everyone has been a driving force for Brownstone and his team.
“It should be like a normal garment. Our end users will be the elderly or infirm and may forget to charge batteries. We’re trying to remove all of that worry. It makes me laugh that the same products could be used by Olympians through to 90-year-olds.”
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