UAlberta Research in Your Life

World’s 1st technology
to accurately measure running speed and distance            

It started as an idea for an engineering design course but turned into a world’s first technology and a multi-million dollar partnership with Nike. In the mid 1990s, UAlberta engineering professor Ken Fyfe was looking for a project for his annual design course. Someone suggested a wireless running speedometer to track speed and distance.   

Accurately measuring how far, how fast
So Fyfe, a runner and track and field coach, designed the smart device and developed the technology. It was the world’s first device to easily and accurately measure running speed and distance travelled. A special senor attaches to the shoe and communicates wirelessly to a special wristwatch that automatically monitors and records the stride from the shoe senor. Like any new invention or innovation, success did not happen overnight—and it took a long time to attract interest in the device. Companies were hesitant about a product with no patent, but getting a patent was just as hard without an interested company.

Global giant Nike comes calling
Fyfe and his brother Kip decided to start their own company launching UAlberta spinoff Dynastream Innovations in 1998. Then they patented the wireless foot sensor device. Their hard work and patience soon paid off when Nike came knocking. Dynastream executives held meetings with Nike representatives over the kitchen table while continuing to work at UAlberta and in their garage in Cochrane, Alberta, their company headquarters.  

World first: UAlberta technology now used by top global sports & fitness brands
When negotiations were complete, a new product was born, the first of its kind in the world—the SDM Triax 100 which Nike signed on to market in Canada and the US. When it hit the shelves in 2000, it was the world’s first monitor to accurately and easily measure running/walking/hiking speed and distance. The device provides superior accuracy to pedometer devices.

In 2006, Dynastream Innovations was acquired by Garmin as a subsidiary with the company remaining in Cochrane. Today, the company’s ANT+ wireless technology is a world leader in ultra-low power wireless networking. Dynastream’s sensors monitor everything from heart rate to bike power to body weight, and allow seamless communication and data transfer. The company works with top global brands, including Polar and Garmin, and Dynastream technology and products are available internationally in various markets including: sports, fitness, mobile phones, home and industrial automation and control.