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Entries in Seppo Säynäjäkangas (1)


Polar Electro, Inc. Drives Wearable Fitness Technology Forward 

Today, it’s not unusual to see club members use their wearables and smartphones to communicate wirelessly with exercise equipment in order to access their training statistics.

However, had someone suggested such a scenario 40 years ago, it might have been loosely compared to the “aerial screw”— i.e., the helicopter that Leonardo da Vinci conceptualized centuries before the invention of the modern aircraft.

In fact, Seppo Säynäjäkangas envisioned wireless fitness applications quite a long time before they attained their current popularity—back as 1977, when he founded Polar Electro Oy (Ltd.), near Oulu, Finland.

Connecting with Polar Club, a heart-rate based training solution designed specifically for health clubs.

The original idea for a portable heart-rate monitor actually occurred to Säynäjäkangas in 1975, when he was cross-country skiing near his home in Kempele, Finland. He ran into a friend who was a ski coach—a chance encounter that led to a discussion about how athletes’ heart rates might be accurately measured during training. Säynäjäkangas, a professor of electronics at the University of Oulu and a part-time inventor, was immediately inspired to develop a solution.

Four years later, after testing his hypothesis and prototype across some of Europe’s most challenging terrain, he filed the first patent for wireless heart-rate measurement. And, in 1982, Polar changed the way athletes trained forever when it introduced the first-ever wireless, wearable heart-rate monitor.

Over time, Polar has continued to produce innovations in wearable technology that have yielded industry standards. In 1993, for example, the company was the first to identify how the variability in timing between heartbeats correlates with exercise intensity and recovery, and subsequently, developed many unique features to provide instant feedback on an exerciser’s current fitness level, optimal training intensity, and state of relaxation and recovery.

Polar was also the company that established the widely adopted 5 kHz standard for heart-rate sensors to communicate with fitness equipment, such as treadmills and crosstrainers.

Today, more than 40 years after Säynäjäkangas’s flash of inspiration, Polar provides one of the industry’s most comprehensive ranges of wireless monitoring
 and coaching products, including wearable-, app-, and tablet-based solutions. From basic models that help motivate and
inform beginners and regular exercisers, to complete training systems for world-class athletes in numerous disciplines, Polar caters to a wide range of users in more than 80 countries.

Continue reading “Value Proposition: Polar Electro, the July issue of CBI.