Measuring mechanical oscillations: a killer app for AirTags and home fitness

Computation and display of power are standard for bicycles and rowers. In the late 1980s, three-time Tour de France winner Greg Lemond pioneered the use of power meters for training and racing. Around the same time, Concept 2 created their Model B: a home rowing machine with a performance monitor providing an ergometer function: “distance” precisely measures the power the rower was driving the machine with. Their machines are ubiquitous in gyms; there’s even an annual World Championship for indoor rowing performed on their current models: https://www.crash-b.org . Today, most modern aerobic exercise machines compute an accurate approximation of the wattage that the exerciser is exerting; this is a solved problem.

On the other hand, many functional fitness devices have no way to provide computational feedback to the exerciser. Three interesting exmples: Bruce Hymanson’s Bodyblade, Dave Parise’s Inertia Wave, and BOSU inventor David Weck’s ProPulse Speed Trainers. These devices have common properties:

  • They create work by rapid changes in direction – oscillations.
  • The amount of work is determined by the amplitude of those oscillations.
  • The timing, phase, and direction of the movements is critical to the effectiveness of the exercises.

In a developer document, Apple shows 2 iPhone users playing a rudimentary game of Pong communicating using the U1 Chip. Tracking the amplitude/frequency/direction of these functional fitness devices should definitely be doable – with a U1 chip in an Apple Watch or with AirTags.

@ant_pruitt have you used any of these functional fitness devices? Do you think their effectiveness could be improved with movement tracking through UWB?

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I have not, but I do believe they can be improved upon if devs have access to analyze the frequencies, compression, contractions, etc of the devices to help yield more positive results for the user.

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