Fitness is a fast-growing and lucrative field for technology; niche bands proved to be the launch pad for a seemingly endless list of wearables and fitness platforms. With new products entering the market on almost a daily basis, it’s clear that the level of consumer interest in fitness is high. The fact that major brands such as Apple and Samsung have entered the field indicates the strength and potential of the current market.
And yet, despite launching devices and platforms with the ability to track and measure fitness activity, Apple is yet to develop iBeacon to take advantage of this boom in interest. This makes it one of the few new technologies lacking the ability to directly influence our fitness. Nevertheless, it has immense potential to work indirectly with other related platforms and devices, enabling users to utilise this technology for their activities.
Here are some ways in which app developers can harness iBeacon for fitness-focused users:
One of the main outlets for fitness trackers and apps is running; distance, steps and calories burned are tracked and stored in the user’s personal database. These measurables provide a driving force to continue a fitness regime, with the goal to increase or improve these statistics. iBeacons, when installed in a park, can create points and convert data, then use it to present challenges to other runners using similar apps or wearables. App developers and app designers can gamify the whole process and add another layer of motivation for users to continue with their fitness activities.
Fitness tracking capabilities pose a threat to gyms and health clubs, but iBeacon presents an opportunity to fine-tune training for members of these institutions. Apple’s technology can track arrivals/departures, enable members to book specialised equipment, and even link to gym equipment to transfer machine usage data to the user’s device during a session. By dong so, trainers would be able to develop accurate, holistic training plans for members to be followed in and out of the gym.
Super Squats are a popular yet dangerous form of weight-training exercise. To minimise risk, participants should enlist a partner to assist with the weights and act as a ‘spotter’. However custom-built machines with embedded iBeacon technology can interact with a device like Myo Armband (which identifies electrical currents from the muscles of the user), to indicate whether the user should continue with the squat or not. In a scenario where the user cannot continue, the machine could automatically pull the weight off the user using connected arms, eliminating the need for a partner.
A final outlet for iBeacon can be found in sportswear. Small devices fitted into a gymnast’s clothing could transmit data continuously to a mobile app, developed to provide immediate feedback to trainers and gymnasts on postures, landing and other related stats. These can then be utilised for training and assessment purposes, not just for gymnastics but activities such as MMA, kickboxing, ballet and dance too.
Although Apple is yet to commit to developing iBeacon’s potential in the field of fitness, this technology is full of promise for app developers and designers. Working in harmony with wearables and fitness platforms, they can enhance the user’s experience and act as a tool for measuring and supporting fitness activity.