Digital Devise to Aid During Work-outs

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 19 2007 3:38 PM

Scientists have developed a waistband and a wireless, sensor-embedded gloves that may simulate the role of a personal trainer. by giving them workout tips in real-time.

These devises may help by providing workout tips and alert exercisers whenever they skip any set, miscount any sequence, do any exercise wrongly or have a bad posture.

An exerciser may also use it to share important exercising tips with others. "People can use this to share their progress with others. They can share their secret and how they do their exercise," Discovery News quoted Keng-hao Chang, a graduate student of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, as saying.

The wireless sensors embedded in workout gloves are called accelerometers, which track motions in three directions—side to side, up and down, and front and back. Through a Bluetooth connection, the data collected is sent to a computer, where custom software analyses the information to distinguish a bicep curl from a tricep curl.

Another accelerometer fixed to the belt also gathers information about motions in three axes to distinguish whether the exerciser is standing or lying on a bench. Such data are significant because the motion of some exercises—viz., a bench press that works the chest and an overhead dumbbell press that works the shoulders—are very similar.

Initial tests with the system showed that the sensors could recognize the exercises being performed 85 to 95 per cent accurately. The results also showed that out of 100 repetitions, the system miscounted by less than five.

Chang believes that attaching radio frequency tags to the weights may help further enhance the system, as it may enable the sensors to determine how much weight a person is lifting.

The researcher says that this will allow an exerciser to focus only on the workout instead of its progress. "The application itself is very interesting. I believe you could make a product out of it," said Jamie Ward, a researcher of human activity recognition at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England.

He, however, pointed out that a number of challenges, including supporting the sensors with battery power, would have to overcome before the system was actually offered to exercisers. "It would be nice if the devices could be powered just from he movements themselves. Wristwatches can do that but they use a very small amount of power, and accelerometers use more power," said Ward.

He also referred to the issue of privacy, and said: "If the environment is smart so that the objects are monitoring you, it obviously raises some privacy issues."