The Ember device uses advanced LED technology and algorithms to non-invasively and painlessly measure up to seven different biomarkers that can help athletes better understand their bodies’ inner-workings. The device is about the size of a deck of cards, and it is connected to an LED light sensor that is placed on the athlete’s finger. Using a technique called absorption spectroscopy, Ember can calculate the levels of these biomarkers through the finger’s blood flow and send the information to a smartphone app in as fast as 30 seconds.
“We’re shooting light through the finger,” said Greg Olsen, the Director of Industrial Design and User Experience at Cercacor. “When we do that, we’re actually counting how much of it gets absorbed. So, once we shoot light through the finger, on the other side we detect what light did not get absorbed and what light did. And with that, we start to understand what the properties are inside your blood.”
Among those properties are hemoglobin values, pulse rate, and perfusion index, all of which can be measured in the Ember Sport model. This device will also be able to calculate oxygen saturation, oxygen content, and respiration rate and pleth variability index. That may sound like a lot of confusing information, but for professional endurance athletes like Hoffman and Piampiano, it’s a gold mine of data.
“I’m using the Ember device multiple times a day,” said Hoffman, who is one of the ambassadors for Ember. “Every single day, I’m taking a measurement first of day, I’m taking measurements pre- and post-workout, I’m taking resting measurements throughout the day, and then also an end-of-day measurement. Basically, that’s just giving me really concrete evidence to go along with the way that I’m feeling. It’s also informing my decisions about training — recovery, hydration, things like that.”
“One of the things that’s really important is knowing how long you need to be there, maximizing the benefit, and then also not overdoing it,” said Hoffman, who spends a good chunk of his training schedule in Boulder, Colo., which is 5,430 feet above sea level. “It’s easier to end up fatigued and over-trained when you’re at altitude, and it’s just harder for your body to recover overnight.”