Nike+ is a really neat systems that basically puts a sensor in your running shoe, records the data to your iPod, then helps runners analyze the data and use it to understand their training and health. I’ve written about the power of measurement in the past, and I’m a big believer that when you give people hard data about something, good results occur.
The basic idea behind this wacky business idea is a gym equipped exclusively with equipment that has extensive sensors attached to each of the machines. Each time a user uses one of the machines, they swipe an ID card on a reader mounted on the machine and their work out is recorded (data is wirelessly gathered). Gym users then get a continuous report on their work out program, broken into activities, effort & resistance levels, calories burned, adherence to a workout program, etc, etc, etc. Automated suggestions are attached to the analysis (e.g. “You seem to be ready for a higher resistance level on the elliptical trainer” or “Increasing your time on the bicycles by 4 minutes would be worthwhile”). If you go longer than usual without a visit to the gym, it could even send you e-mail reminders to get back into your work out routine.
This may be interesting in and of itself, but then a variety of interesting applications could be built on top of this “platform” for the gym users. One example might be fantasy sports leagues where instead of the players being modeled on real sports stars, they are simulated based on the users’ work out data. More core training could give your representative (or avatar) more power in the game. Doing cardio could make them faster, missing work outs makes it more likely your player will have an injury, etc, etc. On a regular basis, these simulations play a variety of games with one another, with the results of each match being sent to all the people involved and (hopefully) provide them with more motivation to continue working out and pushing themselves.
Say a group of friends decide to compete in the CyberGym’s 2010 World Cup. They pick a country to represent them (Spain or Netherlands might be good choices), and their work outs fuel how well their virtual counterparts play. In each match they play against other people working out at the same gym (or other gyms that are part of the franchise). There could be a beginner’s league, where stats are based on improvement (so the new guy who is working hard at getting into a gym routine could be the most valuable player), or an advanced league (where the hard core gym rats would clean up). Your team mates will encourage you to stick to your work out schedule (to increase the odds of winning), and on a regular basis you get e-mailed a description of each match, perhaps personalized with impressive goals your avatar made if you’ve been doing well, or fumbles if you’ve been doing poorly. Each match description would tie the performance to the user’s work out routine, and have suggestions for modifying the routine to improve the routine and to make the avatar play better in the future.
Similar leagues could be available for tennis, basketball, or any sport that was of interest to people using the gym.
Would such a system make you more interested in working out, or would it just depress you that people are playing virtual sports instead of real ones?