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BLOG:Envisioning the Wearable Fitness Workout

Envisioning the Wearable Fitness Workout

With the Apple Watch announcement tomorrow, designers and developers are theorizing how they can craft new wearable experiences to solve user challenges. Universal Mind set out to research how a wearable device might be incorporated into home-based workout programs.


Our team took a look at the Smartwatch wearable space and dove into discovering how customers interact with those home-based fitness programs. The team interviewed several individuals that use programs like this today. They uncovered several challenges customers have with them.

  • Personalization: Personalized music was a big request, after using the program once or twice users wanted to be able to change up the videos and make it bit more exciting. They wanted a way to customize and personalize the workout with their own personal music library.
  • Mobility: Watching videos when traveling was an interesting discovery. Most laptops today don’t have DVD players so the ability to take a DVD with them to work out using a laptop is near impossible. Users wanted to have workout videos on the go as they travel. Customers wanted workout videos to play on whatever device they may have, smartphone or tablet.
  • 3rd Party integrations: Easy seamless integrations with 3rd party apps and wearables devices. Lots of fitness conscious people today wear some form fitness tracker, and would love to have data feed into a personalized workout routine just for them.

Competitive Landscape

The team started researching the competitive landscape of wearable fitness tracking devices and applications. They looked at how smartphone apps and their customers used them. Some feedback the team saw was these types of current experiences were all reactive. Several of the experiences didn’t provide any proactive feedback to users to show them personalization or customization of what they could get out of it personally. Users could reflect on the number of steps they took, but those experiences didn’t really tell them how they should take those steps to get better the next day.

Based on the research here was a list of feedback the team discovered.

  • Personalized onscreen graphics/feedback.
  • Smart tracks for exercises (for your level of fitness).
  • Subscription to overlay Spotify playlists.
  • Social competition options.
  • Integrate with outside services (IFTTT, HealthKit, MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, UP).
  • Social integration (add friends/groups from Facebook).
  • Subscribe to Apple TV or Chromecast channel with additional workouts.
  • Your workout videos available from multiple devices.
  • Subscribe to curated feed of health meal recipes from outside sources.

Integrations with video services and devices like the Apple TV or Chromecast starting to include a channel on those devices for customized workout programs. Personalized workout information could display a targeted fitness workout channel that can serve up that content proactively. These ideas tie back to the ability to have workout videos on demand on any device anywhere. Even incorporating visual onscreen motivational content, say a virtual coach displaying personalized content to help get through those intense workouts. Or imagine as you’re watching a television program an alert on your TV telling you in 10mins your personalized workout for the day will start. That workout could be customized based on the activity you had that day. It could be more intense if you didn’t do much or a little more laidback if you had a busy day.

Not only having the ability to start tapping into past workout data but also proactively starting to serving up recommendations based on daily activity and health inputs. Something we call “Sensing”, which is the ability to capture large sets of real time data and predictively start serving up the best-intended experience. Analyzing real time activity data then layering on historical data across several similar individuals can start to open the window on creating an intelligent sensing experience.

Even things like integrating into recipe apps for certain types of meals or even pulling in outside health and fitness resources. It then could start to tie together the personalized ecosystem of recommended meal selections. It could even go as far as integrating into a digital grocery service and order the best type of food just for you and your body.

A couple things the team noticed with wearable devices, like the Apple Watch, was the ability to incorporate haptic feedback. Let’s say a particular workout move involves you stepping away from the screen, you could still receive haptic feedback from the video indicating to move to the next step or even take a water break. Users could actually interact with the program without actually directly viewing it. Quickly having access to pause and play the workout when you’re overly exhausted will add to the experience. Things like real time notifications calibrated to your heart rate and body type will create a more personalized workout just for you.

By tapping into real time biometrics it could speed up or slow down the pace of workouts on real time feedback and how you’re acclimating to the workout. It could go through these programs quickly and serve up content at a faster pace keeping up with how you work out. Although if your more of a beginner these programs could slow down a bit giving you time to catch up based on heart rate and other types of biometric feedback.

A major part of most workouts is intensity. The team explored intensity with the use of color and visualizations. Video workout content would be based on what you did that day or even that week and start offering up a predictive “Sensing” experience. A customized workout regiment would serve up intelligently based on the context of your day.

The team incorporated a color spectrum representing intensity, which resulted in a quick glance visualization to show current activity; the color red referring to high activity and yellow/green representing a low level of activity. Based on the users current activity level, workout intensity could be recommend for that day.

The Apple Watch launch is rapidly approaching, with an anticipated April launch date. This was an exercise in exploring what an experience might be like for this new wearable device. Have you thought about how your experience might work on a wearable device?