Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Engineers test a running microdevice to improve sports performance

The electronic system monitors the flow of the airways of athletes and alerts them to the presence of the first symptoms of exhaustion. This Chilean innovation is expected to debut during the next New York Marathon.

Publish date: 25/05/2019

An interdisciplinary team from Universidad Católica (UC) composed of engineers, doctors and physical therapists, began testing a respiratory microdevice for running athletes, which seeks to improve performance during exercise.

It is a comfortable and easy-to-use electronic system that monitors the flow of the respiratory tract and alerts to the presence of the first symptoms of exhaustion. The idea is to maintain physical balance and avoid muscle problems.

This Chilean innovation is expected to debut during the next New York Marathon.

“The tests of the new running microdevice, seek to detect the anaerobic threshold in order to optimize the training of athletes, mainly in long-duration activities, such as marathons,” explained Daniel Hurtado, UC Engineering academic who leads on the innovation.

As a first step, the researchers intend for the system to measure the physical preparation of a Chilean runner who is due to participate in the next New York Marathon. The idea is to monitor the respiratory flow at different distances and levels of effort, as well as under different climatic conditions.

“Once the anaerobic threshold has been detected, associated with the first symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion, training can then be guided around this point of reference. By optimizing the practice, a substantial improvement in physical performance is achieved”, said Daniel Hurtado.

The project was born from the work developed with patients exposed to respiratory depression in post-operative recovery rooms. To identify respiratory commitment events early and effectively, UC researchers created a microdevice to monitor airflow in a non-invasive manner.

Both ideas are supported by the Corfo 2030 Engineering program, the UC Institute for Biological and Medical Engineering, the UC Transfer and Development Department and the Copec -UC Foundation, in addition to Electrical Engineering academics and university students.


During physical activities, symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion arise when the body forms lactic acid by decomposing the so-called glucose in anaerobic metabolism, in the absence of oxygen. For example, in tests of about 100 meters.

If the exercise is short in duration, there is no problem among athletes because the lactic acid is reused. However, in people with little training, subjected to long-term tests, it accumulates and affects the muscle fibers, preventing continued-duration sports.



Contact us

Receive information about the different areas of UC Engineering.

Contact us

Apply to UC Engineering

Receive information about program applications.