Monday, September 3, 2012

Workout training mirror

When it comes to exercise, I'm relatively casual but I do enjoy a good calorie-burning, cardio, weight-training workout. When I first started to hit the gym regularly, I was annoyed by all of the mirrors. I didn't know what the purpose was. Of course, after a few days, it becomes pretty obvious. A workout mirror can help you observe, critique and adjust your workout so that you can maintain proper form and thus get the most out of your workout while preventing any sort of injury to yourself. The mirrors in conjunction with user guides and visual aides help ensure as good of a workout experience as possible.

Another useful workout tool is my mobile phone. One use is obvious - I'm glad to have music and podcasts at my disposal to block out the lunking that could occur at any gym - but the most important use for me is that it holds my workout applications which, thanks to smartphone technology, have become an easy-to-have mobile supplement. These apps guide me through my workout and each exercise step-by-step. They provide instructions on how to execute the exercise and pictures on how to do it properly. Some apps even provide short instructional video clips. Needless to say, this is very useful for an amateur exercise buff like myself.

So, one day while working out, I got to thinking...instead of looking over at my iPod between every set, what if there was a way to display this information right in front of you on the mirror. I mean, you're already looking at it for proper form so what if the information that can be shared on your app can also be shared on your gym mirror? Well...if I had a million dollars...this is the way I would do it.

v.1 - Touch Screen Mirrors
This step would be the simplest lowest cost implementation. It would not require any new materials, just simply, a modification of existing materials. We would start with basic workout mirrors and within it (or on it), at a comfortable height for your average gym-goer, we would install iPads or some other tablet that the user can then manipulate to search and view specific exercises or workouts. A user would step up and search for their favorite exercise or advice on a specific workout routine and then step through the instructions. Depending on what application the gym decided to use, the app would then run through the exercise through pictures or video.

        1.1 - Networking between exercise stations - Using existing networking technology, all exercise stations could be linked wirelessly and all of them can access your information from a central database where your workout logs are being kept. So, for example, I might be in station A working out biceps and triceps, I log my workout and then move on to station C, in a different part of the gym, where I could log my workout. At the end of the day, you can lookup your workout, estimated burnt calories, etc. To make it an even more interactive experience, you can ask the proprietary program to suggest a workout and in between every exercise, the software can map out where the next station in your workout is.

          1.2 - ID Card Activation - Gym membership cards will be fitted with a chip that can help each machine identify who the user is. Of course, gym cards that already have this technology for check-in purposes can repurpose the technology.

v.2 - Hologram layer on Mirror
Version 1 is important for setting up the culture shift to a more tech-friendly workout experience. In order to improve the workout experience and maximize results, the pictures or video instructions outlined above would now become more of a life-size hologram that the user could stand in front of to better emulate in order to get a better workout. Now, when standing in front of the mirror you are not only looking at your own reflection but a hologram that is helping you keep proper form and a healthy pace.

Accomplishing this would require a whole new mirror system for gyms. The mirrors would have to have the same touchpad functionality in v.1 but also the ability to project holograms inside the mirror. The user would then line-up directly in-front of the hologram and do the workout with it.

         2.1 - User detecting Mirror - To improve efficiency of mirror real estate, the mirror would have to not be limited to one user per panel. Ideally, the mirrors can be setup to detect when someone is in front of it and at a distance. So, for example, if you are at the free weight section of the gym, someone in the foreground might be doing tricep kickbacks and they would get a hologram guide. Behind them, someone might be doing curls and they should also be able to get a hologram, albeit one that is sized accordingly and doesn't interfere with the user in the foreground.

         2.2 - User Specific Hologram - This would be an expansion on an already existing idea that can be seen in game and virtual reality systems. The idea of an avatar. A user can either define an avatar or have one defined for them. This would be dependent on the culture of the gym itself. The way I see it, the avatars can be based on; existing self, ideal self or fantasy self

         2.3 - Correction Hologram - Once you have your avatar hologram that is able to sync up and match your physical self, the next version of the technology should be able to correct your form. Imagine standing face to face with your hologram and if you slouch too much, bend your elbows too much or commit any other foul, that part of your hologram would pulse to let you know that you're out of form. Once you corrected, the pulsing part of the hologram would go back to normal

v.3 - WiFi workout
Version 3 starts to move towards a more integrated gym experience. One that knows where you are, what you're doing, what your goals are and what's the best way to achieve it. The key to achieving this is having a gym smart enough to work with you.

Every exercise machine, cardiovascular machine and even dumbbell will have to be networked. The moment that you lay hands on any of this equipment, it knows and it starts to record the work you're doing. That data is then logged and compared to a historical log as well as keeping a running log for the current session.

         3.1 - Web based Portal - An online home where you can review your data and update your goals. This web-based portal will be integrated into all gym systems so you can see basic club info, take care of your account and see your workout history. Here you can define what your goals are and what the time frame is to achieve those goals.

In addition, you can now create your own workout which will then be available for you at the gym. You can create an order of exercises or have the site suggest a workout to help achieve possible goals.

         3.2 - Partners - With this online information, your web portal can recommend dietary and leisurely experiences that supplement your workout. This would allow the club owner to work with local restaurants and companies to cross-sell business that would benefit the user.

If I had a million dollars, that is how I would re-do the gym experience.