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Fitness trackers are great, but they don’t provide you with much information as you’re actually exercising. It’s nice to see a breakdown of your workout after the fact, but that just helps you to quantify what you’ve done, not improve it. That’s not the case with Moov, a new fitness wearable that just launched a crowdfunding campaign Thursday. Moov is a fitness tracker that gives you audio and visual instruction as you work out – think Siri(s aapl) for exercise.
I got a chance to meet with two of Moov’s founders ahead of today’s launch. Meng Li, an industrial designer who worked for Microsoft(s msft) Research, and Nikola Hu, a former Apple and Halo engineer, showed me how Moov works. “We designed Moov to end the era of the bullshit workout,” Li said. By this, Li refers to workouts categorized by “good intentions but inaccurate and injury-inducing actions and poor form.”
Moov is supposed to change this. It looks like a fairly standard activity tracker, as you can see above. It consists of a round, waterproof sensor that attaches to a band you can strap on your wrist, ankle, or arm. While most activity trackers live solely on the wrist, using Moov in various places lets it gather more accurate information and provide you with personalized training instructions.
Moov’s sensors capture your body’s exact form and sync with an app to give you feedback while you’re working out. It was built around biomechanics and sports science research from Harvard and Stanford, and uses artificial intelligence to analyze the way you run, swim, bike, lift weights or cardio box. Moov plans to add additional workouts, like yoga and martial arts, after launch.
You strap the band onto whichever part of your body corresponds with the workout, then load the iOS app on your smartphone or tablet (an Android(s goog) app is scheduled to come out a few months after the initial launch). It connects to your device via Bluetooth 4.0.
For certain activities, like cardio boxing, you can wear one sensor on each wrist to get a more accurate readout, though only one is required (you can pre-order a single sensor for $59.95, or two for $99.95). In the running demo I saw, you choose what you want the app to focus on before you run, like “Avoid knee injuries.” As you’re running, Moov will analyze information like landing, informing you if you’re landing too hard and putting excess strain on your knees. It can sense plenty of other factors as well, such as cadence, instructing you whether to move faster or slower to reach the magical 180 steps per minute. And it can even guide you to land more toward the ball of your foot or to shorten your stride in order to better run longer distances. Of course, it tracks regular activities, like the amount of steps you take every day, as well.
I was impressed by just how quickly Moov responds to change. Both audio and video cues were nearly instantaneous, making it clear how you’re doing every step of the way. You don’t need to look at your screen while you’re in action either — the audio cues alone are enough to let you know what to do. It really does look as if it could be a viable alternative to a trainer, provided you’re not training for the Olympics or something equally hardcore.
Here’s a video of the Moov in action:
Moov has launched a Selfstarter campaign and is looking to raise $40,000 in order to start production and ship the first batch of trackers by summer 2014. The device is expected to retail for $120, which is about average compared to other products on the market. If you get in early, though, you can pick up one band for $59.95 or two for $99.95. I’m curious to get my hands on one to see if it can whip me into shape.