Startup Stories: Chris Ruddock, Managing Director at INCUS

INCUS Performance is a wearable sports tech company making waves with our product – the INCUS|NOVA. This device is wireless and unobtrusive, sitting between the shoulder blades, and can measure and provide detailed analytics of a swimming stroke or running stride. We aim to make an athlete and coaches relationship smoother and more technical by providing detailed information that you wouldn’t be able to assess with the naked eye.
Incus Nova: The new swimming wearable for triathletes

The Idea

As a teenager I was an incredibly competitive and ambitious athlete, taking on swimming events and competitive life-guarding at a national level. At the age of sixteen I got a very severe ear infection that eventually led to complete hearing loss in my left ear.

This made communication with coaches and teammates, in the already challenging environment of the water, even more difficult. Finding a solution to this problem remained a personal project throughout my time at Loughborough University School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering where I studied Product Design Engineering, leading to a First Class Degree with honours and a prestigious exchange scholarship with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

The first iteration of the INCUS device was made in my bedroom, and tested by attaching it to my back with gaffer tape! It looked horrible, but this first test proved the concept that multiple advanced performance statistics could be measured by a single device, in a single location, with the help of clever algorithms. Soon after with the help of Dimitrios Pantazis, INCUS began to rapidly progress into the product we know today.

The INCUS|NOVA was first developed to collect motion data from an athlete in the swimming pool. It could detect every movement of the body in the water, including pace, stroke rate, body roll, body pitch angles and velocity gains.

These metrics are vital in improving the efficiency and speed of a swimming stroke – and had never previously been available directly in a swimming session. They can serve to hugely improve communications between a coach and an athlete. Since then the NOVA has been updated to collect similar analytics for a running stride, and hopefully soon there will be an update to collect metrics for cyclists too.

I wanted to design something that performed on the world stage before I was 21; I helped developed the Team GB carbon-fibre tandem for the Rio Olympics. I just missed my second goal of bringing a product to market by the time I was 25, I was 26. The third goal is that by 30 I want to have built a global force in the technology market. It’s ambitious but we’re on track.

The Future

I want to see INCUS as a leading performance analytics brand. To be the best in the world, it’s not just about making a great product. The entire experience needs to be seamless, elegant, and exciting across the board. At INCUS, we focus on innovation – doing things differently, more thoughtfully, and ultimately better. We aim to improve the athlete experience as a whole. Our mission to reinvent the sport of Triathlon through technology has started on a strong foot with swimming, and I look forward to sharing the next step in the journey very soon.