Technogym is a big maker of training machines and systems. They have now developed the “Wellness System”:
The Wellness System is made up of hardware, software, and cutting-edge technologies linked to exercise equipment. It enables health and fitness facilities to deliver a rich wellness experience to their members. A comprehensive, modular network, the Wellness System works with exercise equipment.
Using a special TGS key, you “log on” to the equipment you use at the gym. The Wellness System then keeps track of what you do, burned calories, how much you run, how much you lift or pull, and your progress. You can also check your progress online.
Only halfway there
As far as I know the first time you can see your progress in hard numbers, and not just what you think your progress is (and DO people fool themselves? Yes, they do.)
There are however some shortcomings:
It can store “only” 365 workout sessions. I guess that means several years of workouts for most of us, but for athletes it will soon be too little.
Is there a way to measure your pulse? I couldn’t find that on the Technogym site.
You can’t take your data with you. And you can’t use the data from the gym with the data from outside the gym. Let me explain: You run, bicycle and lift in the gym. And your data is stored in the Wellness System. Then you run and bicycle outdoors, and maybe you store your data on a Garmin Forerunner.
How do you combine the data? You can’t. There aren’t any standards. And most of the people busy making new cool standards for the online world are so busy using their computers that they wouldn’t care less if you can’t take your Wellness System data, your Forerunner data and mix them at home. Or online.
We need EMIL
A year ago, I wrote “Running and training online”:
I’m always frustrated with the lack of open standards in the computer world. So to keep up competition, we make a standard for the data that the training machines collect when we train. I call it EMIL – Exercise Machine Interchange Language. It sounds like “e mill” (electronic mill) when you say it. And it’s my little homage to Astrid Lindgren’s wonderful character Emil.
So how about it, Marc? Phil? (who had supercool “/run” but still makes cool stuff at “Make:”. Or Robert?: Your boss seem to understand that we need microformats. We need a format for training! Get people out of their chairs! Hightech training for everyone!
And finally: The view
The next version of Windows is called “Vista”:
1) A distant view or prospect, especially one seen through some opening
2) A site offering such a view
I want something to look at when running the mill. Ok, at SATS where I workout, they have placed the step machines right in front of the running mills. But everywhere else. I would like to bicycle through Italian wineyards or downtown Sydney. I want to run the streets of Tokyo or the hills around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Or the landscapes in Halo.
Make a system that takes data from the bicycle or the mill, feed it into my Xbox (or a PS3) and give me the view. Track how fast I go, my pulse, put it online. Let me race my friends all over the world. Give me EMIL support in all chat clients: “Status: Oyvind is bicycling – race him now”. Click and your system give you the same track I see, real time and online. And it works whether I’m at the gym or at the spinning bike at home.
How cool would that be!
There are three pieces missing:
Technogym has started to adress this, by taking data from all machines in gyms, and saving them to a personal profile. Garmin also does it with their Forerunner line, where you store both pulse, elevation, speed, GPS data etc. on the Forerunner.
There are several other areas where this could be done:
- A very light device to put on your arm while playing tennis
- A device for golfers that takes GPS data, how you swing etc. (I would guess this exists already? Anyone?)
- A device for skiers, both Nordic and Alpine. A GPS with customized software would cover most of what you need. I think lots of people would like to see their speed in the slopes, which could be done with GPS. Not too accurate, I guess but good enough. If there was a standard, the Alpine devices could talk to systems in the slopes, feeding them other metadata about the slopes (green, blue, red, black etc.)
- Swimming. Are there heart rate monitors that are waterproof?
Can you think of other useful areas?
A standard for the data
There should be an easy way to move data between devices and systems. It’s lame that my Polar heart rate monitor store it’s data in a different format than Garmin’s heart rate monitors. They should be compatible with each other.
There should be a way to put all the data from Technogym’s Wellness System on a USB stick.
Someone should sit down and define all the data possible to connect: GPS positions, heart rate, how much you lift or push, how far you run/bicycle/ski and so on. And then define a data format for it. Like MIDI for training machines and monitoring.
Using data to control other devices
And finally: When the data is in a format that all kinds of machines and gadgets can understand, it should be possible to use it to control other devices. Example: When I run on a mill, that data should be possible to send to any PC/Mac/Xbox/PS to control things. Anything. It should be built right into the OS. Yes, OS X and Windows Vista should have supoort for this. So that if I want to “disconnect” the return key on my keyboard, and the only way to get a “return” is to hit a punching ball next to my display, I should be able to do it.
And when I’m running on a tread mill, in a gym or at home, I should be able to control any game I have. Or much better: The game developers should make special versions of the games, with “only” the landscapes and buildings, letting users run or bicycle them.
There is a device for alpine, showing vertical speed etc.
I’ve written Training microformat after Apple and Nike presented iPod+Nike in May 2006.