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Portuguese technology plays fundamental role in sports

National sports are not just made of athletes and coaches. Outside the fields, the Porto-based startup, Kinematix, has been playing a pivotal role in sports by creating medical systems that make it possible to improve the performance of athletes or prevent injuries. The Portuguese technology has already been used by the Chelsea FC team.

From Porto, Kinematix wants to revolutionise the works method in sports at a global scale. How? By creating electronic medical devices that can collect information on the movement and posture of athletes, so that they can improve their performance and prevent injuries. The devices created by the Portuguese startup have already been used to evaluate the team of the British Chelsea FC, coached by José Mourinho. “On the short term, we want to be an unavoidable player in the area of professional, semiprofessional and amateur sports,” stresses Paulo Ferreira dos Santos, CEO of the company.

Kinematix was founded in 2007 (then with the name Tomorrow Options) as part of the MIETE - Master Program in Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP). Even though sports is one of the company’s main areas of activity, its devices can also be used by the medical industry as they can help reduce problems associated with diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, musculoskeletal disorders, orthopedic injuries, among others.


Kinematix’s devices incorporate inertial sensors which are very important these motion sensors based on inertia are used today, for example, on smartphones. These sensors are operated thanks to algorithms and software developed by the company, and they make it possible to measure and report the information in real-time to health professionals. All the basic technology and products are developed at the company’s headquarters in Porto, involving a multidisciplinary team composed of employees from areas such as engineering, design or marketing.

Promoting participatory medicine

Paulo Ferreira dos Santos

More recently, Kinematix started focusing on the segment of wearables with the launch of Orthomonitor, an electronic device that can be embedded in different types of orthoses or prostheses, and measure the activity and performance of patients during treatment, giving them feedback through the phone. The technology can also be used by doctors or physical therapists to evaluate and define the next steps. This way, we want to significantly reduce the recovery time of patients suffering from some pathologies, such as stroke, which require long recovery times. Here, the motivation of the patient plays a pivotal role,” explains Paulo Ferreira dos Santos. The device promotes cooperation between the physician or physical therapist and the patient, involving them all in the concept of participatory medicine, whose efficiency has been proven. This technology makes visible what was invisible to the doctor until now during the recovery phase: objective information about the patients’ performance during their daily routines,” he adds.


Since its inception, the ambition of the FEUP/INESC TEC spin-off is to grow in the international market, from where almost the entirety of its turnover comes from. After receiving an investment of 2.6 million dollars (about 2.2 million euros, at current exchange rates) in 2013 from the venture capital company Portugal Ventures, Kinematix opened a subsidiary in Boston (USA). Kinematix already had branch in Sheffield (UK) and an office in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). In addition, the company has a network of partners that redistribute their products in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy, and is currently working on building a similar network in the US, where its products have been certified by the regulatory authority, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the Portuguese market, the company has partnered with the Agostinho Ribeiro Hospital in Felgueiras to test their products. The lack of customers in Portugal and the difficulty of having hospitals or health facilities work with us initially have forced us to ‘immigrate’ early,” explains Paulo Ferreira dos Santos.

Technology "plays" in various fields

The first product developed by Kinematix is called WalkinSense, and managed to open doors to the international market. This system is used to analyse gait and plantar pressure, monitoring in real-time the areas where the users apply pressure while walking. The product, consisting of a sole connected to a small electronic device, is designed to help doctors treat patients with diabetic foot disease, an illness that causes foot ulcers. WalkinSense makes it possible to design custom insoles and footwear for patients with diabetes, as well as gait disorders or other orthopedic problems.

The WalkinSense, which was developed over the first three years of activity of the company, has also attracted the attention of many sports professionals and organisations interested in monitoring the athletes’ muscular effort in a real environment. Among other features, the equipment makes it possible to quantify the time that athletes spend on repetitive actions before changing the workout plans, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

In sports, the Portuguese startup works directly with technicians, who in turn work with the clubs or athletes. The WalkinSense system has been used by these technicians in sports such as football, basketball, tennis, athletics, cricket, skating, ballet, rugby, among others.

In addition to Chelsea FC, the Portuguese company also worked with the British rugby team, the Leicester Tigers. The contact with both teams was made possible by a podiatrist who works with several football clubs in the Premier League, and in 2011 he asked Kinematix to help evaluate the entire team of Chelsea FC. This podiatrist referred us to the physiologist of Leicester Tigers, who subsequently contacted us,” Paulo Ferreira dos Santos recalls. That was an enormous challenge to us from a technological and usability point of view, but it is now bearing fruits and can potentially be used in another similar sport, American football,” he stresses.


In addition to WalkinSense, Kinematix developed Movinsense, a system that can be used to monitor the torso movement of bedridden patients, providing information to help nurses know when to reposition patients, reducing the time and effort spent, and increasing the quality of care. There is a huge number of medical problems – such as pulmonary, cardiac, trauma, surgery, ulcers, and other conditions – that require the position of patients to be monitored, as well as the time they stay in certain positions. We believe that the Movinsense is the major innovation in decades in nursing, a very difficult activity that unfortunately has not benefited from the technological advances that it deserves,Paulo Ferreira dos Santos highlights.

Right now, the priority of Kinematix is attracting new investors and continue its international expansion, particularly in the North American market. We believe that we have passed the most critical phase, and that the courage to develop any product, hardware, software and applications was essential for the positive international reputation we now have,” says the CEO of Kinematix. To be successful we have to be physically present in some countries to develop relationships, build visibility and gain credibility, and to convince potential partners that with our products they can add value to their companies,” he concludes.

Marketeer, 1 January 2015

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