Apple’s upcoming Watch will be a super-intelligent fitness coach. It will send motivational messages, know the intensity of a workout, track form, and make suggested improvements. This is essentially what expensive per-hour personal trainers do. But because Apple is also collecting data on millions of users — some of whom are Olympic athletes — its suggestions will hold the collective wisdom of the exercise world.
Factoring in the cost of gym membership or a personal trainer, the watch could pay for itself in a month.
We still don’t know all the details about the Apple Watch, but we do know what’s possible from their competition and the sensors they’re currently using.
And the existing generation of fitness trackers can replicate the two most important aspects of a fitness trainer: motivation and form tracking.
Research has proven that robotic motivational coaching is nearly as good as coaching from a real person. In one study from Michigan State University, automated prompts inspired participants to hold a pushup plank position 1:20 longer than having no robotic buddy. (A real person boosted stamina 33 seconds longer than the robot, though.)
Apple’s watch promises to motivated users during workouts. I tested out one the available products a few months ago, the PEAR sports app. PEAR sports uses a heartrate monitor and shoots out motivational sayings when a user’s heart rate drops below a certain level. Personally, I found the PEAR worked pretty well to keep me from sandbagging my workout.
Eventually, with enough intelligence, Apple will know exactly what to say and when to say it to ensure peak motivation throughout a workout.
Existing tech and form tracking
I tested out an early version of the the Amiigo fitness band. The Amiigo can differentiate all different types of gym movements automatically, from squat presses to stationary cycling. There’s no need to scribble how many reps you did or how long your biked in a notepad.
Apple could also have access to complete exercise routines. For years, Crossfit and other Internet-based workout methods have posted their training routines online. It’ll be exceedingly simple for the Apple Watch to automatically upload these and track movements. It’s cheaper (and may even be better) than paying a coach to design a custom workout.
Even more exciting is the form tracking. Poor form can seriously cramp a workout, and the associated injuries can permanently damage our bodies. The next generation of fitness tech will understand proper form. For instance, the upcoming Sensoria fitness sock will automatically monitor runners for proper technique and give suggestions to prevent injury.
The Amiigo team (and their competitors) have told me the collection of user data makes their exercise tracking even more intelligent. As Olympic athletes and ordinary users upload their data to a centralized database, health tracker hardware will begin to recognize the best possible form for every single movement.
Apple will know what kinds of form are correlated with improvement — or injury.
in other words, the Apple Watch could automatically monitor the wearer’s progress and recommend the optimal exercise routine. From a fitness standpoint, that’s huge
Apple may need other devices
It remains to be seen whether Apple hardware will have everything fitness enthusiasts need. The PEAR sports app uses a heart rate strap, so that it can monitor heart rate second by second. The Amiigo band has a shoe clip, so it can track lower-body movement. A simple wrist-based heart rate monitor may not be enough
But, we know it won’t need one thing: another human.
VentureBeatVentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
- up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
- our newsletters
- gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
- networking features, and more