Monday, February 25, 2008


Smart Fitness Machines

[Hitachi Fitness Machine Article]

Here's another incantation of a project that Joshua Gomez was considering for the Document Engineering course and I was considering last semester for the XML Foundations course.

I thought XML would be a good way to store people's workout data because workouts plans are usually highly structured. Joshua thought that RFIDs in a person's membership card would be a good way for a machine to keep track of workouts (i.e. weights, reps, etc).

In this case, Hitachi is using a finger-vein scanner for user identification.
It keeps track of a user's progress, displays it on an LCD, and changes the resistance of the weights accordingly, on its own.

I believe the current price tag of $17,000 per unit is too steep for most gyms to adopt this technology readily. This would be especially true for older gyms that already own working equipment. Perhaps another (more cost-effective) approach to this would be to develop some kind of add-on system that allows users to identify themselves (e.g. using RFID technology). An attached monitor would show the user their progress, and allow them to punch in new information. Of course, weights would have to be adjusted manually in this case, but come-on, you are at a gym... you shouldn't really be complaining about moving a pin from one weight to another.

-Michael Lee

The local YMCA has a system that uses touchscreens at each machine, where you enter an id. It seems like it would be easy to substitute a finger-vein scanner for the keypad for a lot less than $17K, though entering a password seems not that inconvenient.Your workout data are sent back to a server, and your workout data are displayed at each piece of equipment (how many reps, your personal best, what machine to visit next). You can also use the touchscreen to modify your workout parameters. Apparently you can also visit a website to look at your personal data. The system uses an accelerometer to measure your workout. It uses a laser to count how many weights are on the machine. For equipment such as treadmills the sensors are more integrated into the equipment, I think. I have no idea what the software architecture is. They claim it is "open," and the company, Fitlinxx, has agreements with various equipment manufacturers, so they have apparently achieved some degree of interoperability.

Here's the website:

Its a pretty good system--I should use it.

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