As devices track more and more of our lives, from how much we eat to how well we think or whether we sit up straight, it's hard to imagine what's left to measure. But apparently there are still openings in the quantified-self market, as evidenced by the kGoal: a virtual personal trainer for your ladybits.
If you’re female, you’ve probably heard that Kegel exercises—a method of strength training for the pelvic floor—are a good idea for better health and better sex. If you happen to be pregnant, your doctor’s probably recommended a regular routine. But many women don’t actually do the exercises correctly, and even when they do, it’s the kind of thing that gets quickly abandoned because it’s a little boring.
The new kGoal device and app, now crowdfunding on Kickstarter, aims to help. A body-safe silicone pillow keeps track of exactly how well you’re squeezing and gives feedback through an app. The device also gives you a little buzz when you’ve done the exercise correctly. If you want a little more incentive to keep going, yes, you can turn the vibration up.
While other products are on the market (even tiny vagina-sized barbells), the designers say they don't work as well at strength training, and, of course, they can't be tracked. "Pretty much everything else that’s out there right now is passive," explains Jon Thomas, VP of manufacturing for Minna, the sexual health products company that designed kGoal. "You don’t have any feedback or any transparency into whether you’re doing the exercise correctly or how you’re actually progressing."
Thirty percent of women do Kegels wrong, studies say. "When people are told that to perform these exercises for the first time by their physical therapist or doctor, it’s actually really hard to make the connection between your brain and your muscles," Thomas explains. "These are generally involuntary, subconsciously controlled muscles. So when someone tells you to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles or crunch them it’s not intuitively obvious at first how to do that. Our product tells you how you're doing."
By tracking progress over time, just like devices like FitBit, the app also helps motivate women to keep going when they otherwise might have stopped. "One of the key things for us is the idea of making these exercises fun," says Thomas. "The biggest complaint from the physical therapist we’ve been working with is compliance—just getting people to do the exercises."
Since Minna's previous products were carefully designed vibrators, it's not surprising that a little vibration is part of the product. It's optional—some women, especially those who are doing the exercises for a health condition, might find the extra buzz annoying and decide to turn it off. But others might choose to turn it up. "It's a short-term reward for exercises with long-term benefits," Thomas says. "We're making something that’s traditionally very boring fun."