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Apple looking to improve exercise routines with 'virtual competitor'

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
A new patent application from Apple describes an exercise motivation feature that presents a "virtual competitor," providing an "interactive and engaging experience" for fitness enthusiasts.

The application revealed this week, entitled "Real-Time Interaction with a Virtual Competitor While Performing an Exercise Routine," notes that while there are currently a variety of methods designed to push athletes farther, some people want something even more engaging.

Fitness enthusiasts sometimes need new sources of motivation, such as when training indoors during inclement weather," the application reads. "Modern health clubs partly serve this need by providing television monitors and music to entertain members using treadmills, stationary bicycles, elliptical trainers, and other fitness equipment. Products like the Nike+iPod Sports Kit provide workout-based voice feedback, motivational media, and the ability to share workouts among Nike+community members."

The application describes a networked system that could download a workout file associated with the virtual competitor. The system could also determine the performance of the athlete using the iPod or iPhone, and compare their performance with that of the virtual competitor.

Such a system could track the "performance metrics" of the user in both physiological terms, such s heart rate, blood oxygen content and temperature, and non-physiological performance indicators, like speed and distance.

As for the competitor, the system could display visual cues, such as location, via GPS, on Google Maps, demonstrating the user's position relative to the virtual opponent. The system could also be done audibly, allowing a runner to focus on their performance.

"For example, as user passes the 2-mile mark, an audible cue played through the headset may announce a 2-mile split of 10:27," the application reads. "If user has a lead cues may be played if the lead is less than a predetermined distance. For example, if the lead is less than 100 feet, an audible cue may be played, such as 'He's right behind you.' For smaller leads, an audile cue may be the sound of footsteps thumping."

If a user were running indoors on a treadmill, cycle, or elliptical machine, the virtual competitor system could be turned into a game, where the runner can conduct "tactical maneuvers," tracked with a camera, that can be use to complete certain actions. The competitor, represented by a virtual avatar, could potentially be crowded out by the user with a hands-free mouse, and such actions in the game could earn the runner points.



The invention is credited to Allen P. Haughay Jr., Jeffrey T. Lee, and Irwin W. Graves Jr. It was filed for on Sept. 9, 2008.

Apple has shown a great deal of interest in fitness products over the years, particularly in its patent applications. The described technology has been as specific as a sole wear-out sensor for shoes, and as broad as a digital lifestyle fitness companion akin to a more advanced version of the company's Nike + iPod sport kit.

Last September, Apple updated its iPod nano with a built-in pedometer that keeps track of steps taken and calories burned. Nike also released a heart rate monitor for the hardware.
post #2 of 25
Is any of this truly novel?
post #3 of 25
The real question is concerning a 'virtuall competitor is, do I want my computer to tell me to "suck it up", "give me five more" or "you're such a wimp!"???

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post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

Is any of this truly novel?

Nope. Garmin has had a virtual competitor on their ForeRunner watches for many years.
But I'm sure there's some different nuance in the patent.
post #5 of 25
Uh, I don't think that dude needs to lose any more weight!
post #6 of 25
* 'He's right behind you.' *

Imagine if you didn't know you were using this program...
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post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

Uh, I don't think that dude needs to lose any more weight!

But both Phillip Schiller and Woz do
post #8 of 25
Lololololololololololol

If youre a fitness buff and need motivation to go workout in a gym, you are just bound to fail.

This seems very cool but limited. I'd love to use this for some bike rides and compare times against others, and maybe get athletes data to compare against my own even though I know I'm no where near the likes of Lance Armstrong.

FYI Nike+ blows, was the worst 140 bucks I ever spent
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by satchmo View Post

Nope. Garmin has had a virtual competitor on their ForeRunner watches for many years.
But I'm sure there's some different nuance in the patent.

Ya, Garmin didn't patent it and Apple will sue them for using their patent when it's all over.
post #10 of 25
I wonder if they'll sell an arm band for the iPad.
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post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Nike also released a heart rate monitor for the hardware.


No, they certainly did not... They said they were going to release a heart rate monitor for use with Nike+, we are still waiting....
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

Is any of this truly novel?

People need to stop thinking that a patent has to be a new idea for it to be a valid patent. What patents actually protect is the implementation, not the idea...

So in terms of implementation, this is certainly new.
post #13 of 25
I can see an iPod Sport coming along one day with this kind of functionality. Perhaps Apple will work with fitness equipment makers to link it to cross-trainers and the like. Plug your iPod Sport into the machine and your session is added to your list of workouts. The iPod records your fitness and drowns out the crap music in the gym. Everyone's a winner.
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post #14 of 25
Nike never has released a HRM for Nike+. Neither has Apple.

To my knowledge, currently there is no way to hook up a HRM to an iPhone sports app. RunKeeper has tested uploading HRM files, but they're still in the "shhhhh! it'll be coming at some point" position.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by t0mat0 View Post

Nike never has released a HRM for Nike+. Neither has Apple.

To my knowledge, currently there is no way to hook up a HRM to an iPhone sports app. RunKeeper has tested uploading HRM files, but they're still in the "shhhhh! it'll be coming at some point" position.

Nike did a press release back in October when the latest nano's were introduced saying that the heart rate monitor was coming soon.. Since then, nothing...
post #16 of 25
Okay tell me I'm not alone...

A movie from the 80s-90s perhaps has action/scifi maybe and one of the random scenes I remember was a person playing tennis or handball maybe with someone else and it turned out to be a holograph opponent... Judge Dread? Running Man?? (not the 5th element seen that one too many times) but something along those lines..

Wait ... it was tennis I'm almost positive of that .. but they weren't 'playing' so much as teaching proper racquet swings and they were 'side by side' and when the live person swung too close to the VR trainer (hitting it) the trainer would 'fuzz out'. And this was being done in the woman's apartment... It'll come to me... probably weeks from now... and then I'll wonder why that scene came to mind... The best thing about slowly loosing your mind is that you learn something NEW each and every day! lol

Prior art for sure...

Okay... Total Recall and the actress was Sharon Stone ... phew, now I can move on to some other random and meaningless task rolling around in my head...
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post #17 of 25
If it will get me to be able to run 2 miles in 10:27, I will buy one.
post #18 of 25
What disgusts me is that every time Apple comes up with something new, the word "patent" immediately follows. There is nothing truly new and unique about this concept, just like there isn't anything new, unique or even remotely technological about the concept of "gestures". That's like trying to patent the mouse click. Apple just goes wild on the patents because it gives them a club to beat a potential competitor with a smaller pocket with, not to protect an honest invention. And before everybody starts screaming bloody murder over gestures: just remember Minority Report. Way before the Ipod was ever even thought off. This US patent system is completely biased to corporate interests and just sucks so much. And this just shows that Apple is not truly a great company.
post #19 of 25
It would be really cool if (similar to car racing games) you could run against a "ghost" version of a competitor, or even one of your previous runs in the form of a visible avatar on HUD glasses, overlaid on your actual terrain. Data would be collected from GPS and altimeter info (obviously iPods/iPhones don't have an altimeter onboard yet). The avatar version could also provide motivation or technical notes. Make it so, Apple!

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post #20 of 25
"Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!"
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

If it will get me to be able to run 2 miles in 10:27, I will buy one.

The split means the most recent mile.

I would LOVE to have spoken mile splits through the earbuds.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

"Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!"

I got the reference!

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post #23 of 25
I've enjoyed using the Apple + Nike Integrated system so I'd be excited to see what else they can come up with.

I've noticed that many fitness equipment manufacturers are slow to adopt new technologies or they try to separate themselves by offering something different. If anyone could get all the equipment manufacturers to offer the same feature on their machine then Apple could probably get it done.

However, for many of my clients I don't put them the cardio machines, but rather use resistance interval training and outdoor workouts to help them get in shape.

Dillon
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschipperheyn View Post

What disgusts me is that every time Apple comes up with something new, the word "patent" immediately follows. There is nothing truly new and unique about this concept, just like there isn't anything new, unique or even remotely technological about the concept of "gestures". That's like trying to patent the mouse click. Apple just goes wild on the patents because it gives them a club to beat a potential competitor with a smaller pocket with, not to protect an honest invention. And before everybody starts screaming bloody murder over gestures: just remember Minority Report. Way before the Ipod was ever even thought off. This US patent system is completely biased to corporate interests and just sucks so much. And this just shows that Apple is not truly a great company.

Um, last time I checked science fiction movies don't count as prior art.
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post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

I wonder if they'll sell an arm band for the iPad.

A waist band, perhaps



Dan
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