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The future of diet and fitness apps: what should come next.


iPF Noob
Mar 5, 2011
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Tracking Fitness

If you follow technology and fitness you have probably noticed the proliferation of devices and applications that help you to track your workouts, weight, even your blood pressure. For example:


(Withings iPad/iPhone enabled blood pressure monitor.)


(Garmin GPS watch saves a map of your route, and tracks your heart-rate and cadence.)

The most famous of these devices is probably the Garmin line GPS watches. A device the like the "Garmin Forerunner 405" can track your heart rate, cadence, and create a map of your run that you can view to analyze and plan future workouts. Garmin has been around for a long time and each year their devices get smaller. Recently, however, Garmin has new competition from apps and devices that let people run with their iPhones to track their runs using the iPhone's built-in GPS. With plug-in dongles these programs can even make heart-rate and cadence tracking possible. Nike+, for example, also integrates the iPad's playlist in to the workout, giving music lovers a seamless experience. The tracking is not limited to running, there are also devices that work for cyclists and even long distance swimmers. (Garmin, for example, makes a waterproof watch designed for triathletes.)


(Nike+ uses a small dongle for the iPhone and foot pod to track runs.)

Tracking Diet
On the diet-side of the fitness equation, we have literally hundreds of apps that aim to help us track what we eat. Some of these apps use barcode scanners making it easier to keep a record of pre-packaged goods, others have online forums, and real-world support (like Weigh Watcher's apps.)


(An iPhone/iPad food barcode scanner can make tracking calories less of a chore.)

In addition to calorie-counting apps, now there is a new breed of digital scales that beam your weight directly to the computer via wifi: Withings and Tanita scales are the most most advanced. Withings uses wifi so you can put the scale anywhere in your house and your data will be sent to the computer via your wireless router, both scales also take bodyfat measurements.


(The Withings Wifi scale graphs your weight and body fat, and recognizes up to 5 different people automatically!)

Tracking BOTH in the same place!:
So, with all of these new devices and programs ...what I'm looking forward to is the the ultimate in fitness and diet applications; an application will pull together data from multiple sources. Such an application could develop new kinds of analysis to help athletes, fitness enthusiasts and folks just looking to get in shape to gain a new perspective on their health.

The iPad is the perfect platform to make this happen, because of its friendly interface, large screen, and smooth beautiful controls-- since the iPad has GPS and, (with the iPad 2,) a camera even more exciting things will be possible. Without further ado... here is my idea:

A fitness app for iPad that:
  • Counts Calories. You can enter it directly (using a large local database of food items) , scan a barcode with the built- camera, or import you data from other calorie counting applications.
  • Food GPS. should be abel to record the location of meals.
  • Food Photos. Take photos of special meals, healthy meals and save them to add to the visual record of your journey.
  • Recipe sharing. record share and import recipes , along with data on the nutritional content and calories in those recipes.
  • Tracks Weight. You can enter your weight and bodyfat by hand, import, or get it automatically from Whitings or Tantita.
  • Photo diary. You can add photos of yourself to track weight loss, or take a photo with the built-in camera.
  • Exercise tracking. Import workouts, from Garmin, dailyMile or any other poplar workout tracking software.
  • Blood pressure and other biometrics. As new biometric devices come on the market this app should be updated to integrate them.
  • Scalable user experience. On the surface the app should seem very simple, so a user who wants to merely enter how many calories they eat each day and how much they weigh could do that without bothering with all of the other stuff... but, as you use the app you would always discover new levels of complexity.
  • Google calendar, iCal etc. Integrate workout schedule and diet goal with standard calendar software.
  • Room for comments or a diary. There would be a space to comment on your photos recipes, weight, runs etc., if you wish you could share these through face book with a selected group of diet and exercise buddies. Thus your motivation could be tied in to the app as well.

Now that's a lot of data collection, it's nice to have everything in the same place, but there is more to this than just recording all kinds of facts. What would set this app apart is its ability to analyze the data to produce meaningful fitness recommendations that would help users to spot patterns in their diet and exercise. The GPS data on food, for example, would let you know if you are always eating a lot more at grandma's house with a calorie location map. The fact that calories and exercise are in the same application would let you find out if you tend to crave certain things after a workout--- and thus adjust so that you don't eat-away all of your progress in a few bites... The maps of your runs, photo diary, and saved comments about how your feeling would be made in to a "flipbook" style journal so you could look at the ups and downs of your least month in weight loss in visual form.

This might sound on the surface overwhelming, but the effect would be much simpler than those of us who have one app of tracking weight, another for calories, another for running... still another for photos of weight loss... etc. Like the golden ring it would be one fitness app to rule them all!

In terms of development, the major difficulty, and the key to this apps success is compatibility. If this app can unite all of these disparte repositories of fitness data people will come running from far and wide to buy it.... but if it's buggy and can't easily import and share it is just another piece of clutter in an already cluttered market.

Making the user experience scalable will also be challenging. If this app is overly technical and cluttered it will fail, the goal is to make things easier not harder.

I've written this because I really long for such an app, are there any forums where people talking about app ideas? Do you think such a program could be successful? If I simply wait will one appear? (and I'll kick myself for not getting there first?)

Feedback is welcome!
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