LEO monitoring system

The LEO device tracks muscles, heart rate, hydration levels and other anatomic activity. (GestureLogic)

An Ottawa startup that's behind a wearable fitness band allowing users to track muscle activity during workouts has already surpassed the first of its crowd-funding goals.

GestureLogic's LEO device is a textile band interwoven with conductors, which the user wears on the thigh while exercising. The band monitors muscles, heart rate, hydration levels and other anatomic activity.

It can then make recommendations for improving the workout through the user's mobile device.

The technology came out of Carleton University electrical engineering professor Leonard MacEachern's own experience when he worked out to lose weight.

MacEachern discovered he was losing muscle mass as well.

"I looked around for a product similar to a heart-rate monitor that would essentially count muscle and it didn't exist," MacEachern told Alan Neal, host of CBC Radio's All in a Day.

MacEachern and students in his 2012 class put together the first monitoring device as part of a fourth-year engineering project.

The newly formed company, GestureLogic, launched a campaign on June 27 to raise $50,000 US by Aug. 11 on the crowd-funding website, Indiegogo.

As of July 14, the company has raised $76,279 US.

Devices to be shipped out in April 2015

LEO on mobile phone

The wearable device provides messages about muscle activity to users through their mobile device. (GestureLogic)

People who ordered the device can expect to receive it by April 2015, said MacEachern, though some who have ordered beta versions of the device will get their LEOs in the fall.

MacEachern said he recently demonstrated the product at a conference in San Francisco and attracted interest from cyclists, runners, a number of investors and even someone from NASA, who was interested in the possible application of the technology to track muscle loss in space.

He added there are a number of other companies looking into similar technology but, as of yet, none have put forth a muscle-monitoring product aimed at the casual athlete.

"I expect it will be a bit of an arms race going forward for these types of products," he said.