Life-tracking entrepreneur Hind Hobeika has a unique way to log her heart rate
11 FEBRUARY 13 by PETER SMITH
This article was taken from the February 2013 issue of Wired magazine.
When Hind Hobeika dives into the Olympic pool at the Alyarz Leisure Club outside Beirut, Lebanon, staff at the venue always know it’s her, and not because she’s been swimming there most of her life. “I’m the only one who comes with weird stuff on my head,” says the 24-year-old.
The engineer’s “weird stuff” — two rounded plastic modules fitted over her temples — was born out of frustration faced by many swimmers. Hobeika competed on the American University of Beirut’s swim team and her coach trained them using percentages. A warm-up might be 800 metres at 50 per cent of a swimmer’s maximum heart rate, for example. This improved performance, yet something was missing: a real-time way to measure heart rate. “When your head is underwater,” she says, “there’s no way to communicate.” In 2011, Hobeika engineered a waterproof monitor that fits over any pair of swim goggles. As her temporal arteries pulse, a display over the lenses responds with coloured messages: yellow means she should swim harder; red that her pulse is approaching 120bpm; and green means she’s on track to meet her targeted heart rate.
Professional swimmers will test prototypes in winter 2012 and, by 2013, Hobeika expects to start selling an off-the-shelf model of what she’s calling Butterfleyes [subsequently changed toInstabeat] for $100 (£63). And, come Rio in 2016, they could give Olympic swimmers the green light for gold medals.
Edited by DAVID CORNISH