In addition to Apple introducing us to their Smart Bike system this week, they also added another workout related application that describes a new workout reminder system that is intended to keep users on track with their workout goals. In particular, the patent is directed to systems and methods for reminding a user about workout goals spanning multiple workouts. In fact, the system could actually calculate your objectives in contrast to your stated time goal and make independent suggestions as to what you'll need to do in order to achieve the goals that you've set out for yourself. In theory it sounds great, but only time will tell if this little wonder is actually intelligent or just an electronic pain in the neck. At the end of the day, when you add this application to Apple's growing portfolio of sporting based patents, you could plainly see the importance that Apple is placing on the future of this health conscious market. All we need now is for Apple to press the "Go" button – and begin rolling some of this stuff out.
Some electronic devices could monitor a user's workout activity. For example, an electronic device may monitor a user's workout activity by receiving inputs from one or more sensors (e.g., a sensor incorporated into the device or an external sensor coupled with the device). Traditional electronic devices may provide one or more workout indicators when the user is performing a workout. For example, an electronic device may provide one or more workout indicators representing the user's current rate of motion (e.g., pace) or physiological state (e.g., heart rate) when a user is performing a workout. In another example, some traditional electronic devices may monitor a user over the course of a workout and provide one or more workout indicators based on the user's progress towards completing the workout (e.g., time remaining or distance remaining).
Apple's patent is directed to systems and methods for monitoring a user's progress towards a workout goal spanning multiple workouts and providing a workout reminder based on the progress. An Apple device such as the iPod touch or iPhone could monitor the user's progress towards the goal by monitoring the user's rate of motion and/or one or more physiological parameters of the user. Based on the user's progress towards the goal, the electronic device could provide a workout reminder. For example, if a user's progress is not sufficient to achieve the workout goal, the electronic device may provide a reminder to the user. The reminder could include a visual and/or audio alert to the user, and the reminder may interrupt other functions on the device.
The electronic device may consider one or more contextual factors before providing a workout reminder. For example, the electronic device could determine whether a user is currently working out and then provide a workout reminder only when the user is not working out. In another example, the electronic device could determine whether it is a suitable time for working out and then provide a workout reminder only when it is a suitable time. In another example, the electronic device could determine whether the user is near a suitable location for working out and then provide a workout reminder only when the user is near a suitable location.
Screenshots of the Workout App
The iPhone could store a user's workout goals. In some embodiments, the iPhone could download and store a workout goal from a remote source (e.g., the Internet). In Apple's patent FIG. 2 we see a schematic view of an illustrative display for receiving a user input specifying a workout goal.
Type of Workout: Screen 200 could include options for a user to name and define the workout goal being created. The screen allows the user to provide a title for their given workout goal. Potential goal types could include distance traversed (e.g., distance ran or biked), time spent working out, number of workouts, number of exercise repetitions, calories burned, and any other suitable type of workout goal spanning multiple workouts.
Target Value: Next, the user selects to specify a target value for the workout goal. When the user selects option 206, they may be able to specify a target value appropriate for the type of goal set using option 204. For example, if option 204 is set to provide a goal for traversing a distance, then the user may be able to specify a distance target (e.g., 100 miles or 150 kilometers). In another example, if option 204 includes spending an amount of time working out, the user may be able to specify a time target (e.g., 100 hours).
Target Date: Screen 200 could include option 208, which a user could select to specify a target date for the workout goal. In some embodiments, the user may be able to set the target date to a calendar date when the user selects option 208. For example, the display screen may provide a calendar, and the user may be able to select a target date from the calendar.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for providing workout indicators that are pretty straight forward. In some embodiments, the electronic device may determine the user's rate of motion, total distance travelled, physiological parameter(s), or any other suitable workout information using an input received from exercise equipment (e.g., a treadmill or stationary bike. See our patent report titled "Apple Patent Rocks the Gym" which covers gym equipment.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for configuring a device to provide workout reminders. The device has to be on in order to receive the workout reminders and that's why the iPhone is an ideal candidate for this application being that the user will likely have their iPhone on most of the day.
In Apple's patent FIG. 5 we see a schematic view of an illustrative display for providing a workout reminder. The workout reminder 520 could be a display window covering a portion of a screen. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the iPhone is playing the tune Paint it in Black by the Rolling Stones before it provides the workout reminder. Accordingly, the tune is paused to get the user's attention. Screen 500 could alternatively, or in addition, include one or both of an audio clip and an image played back instead of an overlay message on the iPhone.
Smarter Workout Reminders
In some embodiments, a workout reminder may suggest a workout to the user. For example, the iPhone could provide a workout reminder that includes a suggested workout based on the user's previous behavior (e.g., workout pattern) or the user's current status (e.g., time of day or location) or the user's workout goal and/or her progress towards that goal. The iPhone may determine what a user needs to accomplish or achieve their goal (see, e.g., indicator 522) and then suggest a custom workout that will put the user on track to achieve their goal in the remaining time (see, e.g., indicator 524).
The iPhone could suggest a workout by providing a suggested workout type, suggested workout duration (e.g., time), a suggested workout distance, or any other suitable workout suggestions. For example, workout reminder 520 may include a suggested workout indicator (not shown) that suggests a 2.9 mile run so that the user can run the remaining 32 miles needed to reach her goal in the next 11 days. In another example, workout reminder 520 may include a suggested workout indicator that suggests a 3.5 mile run so that the user could run the remaining 32 miles needed to reach her goal in the next 11 days while still resting 2 of those days.
At times I think that the workout reminder system could be awesome and very much like a workout buddy pushing you to hit your goal when the going gets tough and you want to give up. At other times, I think that I'm not particularly interested in any device getting in my face and telling me that I'm not on track or anything else for that matter (ha!).
Apple points to a new workout reminder app that thinks. What are your thoughts on that?
Apple credits Allen Haughay, Jr. and Benjamin Rottler as the inventors of patent application 20100197463, originally filed in Q1 2009.
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Note: Also see these related reports: Apple Reveals "Quick-Start" - A Template System for Workouts, Body Area Networks: Apple, Sensor Strips & the iPhone and our general section on sport related patents Tech: Sports.