Startup Idea: The Computer as Health & Fitness Monitor

Health and Fitness are two of the most discussed topics in modern western culture. It seems as though everyone from doctors to health gurus to gym trainers has an opinion on how to stay healthy and fit. The number of magazines, television shows, fitness products, medical appliances and health related personnel is simply mind bogging. Entire industries and political interest groups are organized around the human body and how one can preserve its physical, mental and emotional sanctity. Because of the decentralized nature of all this knowledge and information, people often spend lots of money and hours of their time simply trying to organize their lives so they can stay healthy and fit.

Let’s take for example a diabetic female who is trying to lose 20 pounds – we’ll name her Sally for simplicity. Because Sally is diabetic, she must constantly monitor her insulin level and take the appropriate quantity of the right medication at a set time each day. If she forgets to take her medication she will suffer physically from fatigue and other complications. Because Sally is on a diet, she must constantly consult with her doctor on the appropriate foods, vitamins and minerals she ought to be taking. In addition, she is probably working with a fitness trainer each week to burn fat via exercise. She is also most likely weighing herself each day and trying to chart her own progress. This weekly routine involves interacting with many different people, devices and information sources. For Sally the gap between the gulf of execution and gulf of evaluation, at each phase and collectively as a whole, is extremely wide. If there were a way to aggregate all this information into one computer operated device with strong visibility and solid feedback, Sally would be much better off.

This is where my invented Health and Fitness monitor would come into play. This device would be a ring shaped product that a user, we’ll continue with Sally, could place on her finger and wear each day. The ring would monitor and store to memory all activity within the human body. At any point in time, Sally could turn on a display mode which would pull up a 3-D visual of her body in mid-air. All action done with the device would be via interaction with this 3-D visual floating in the air:

The Health and Fitness monitor would allow Sally to view her body from a whole range of angles: the skeleton, nervous system, blood vessels and organs, muscle tissue, etc., It would also allow her to monitor her insulin levels and weight fluctuation—giving her a running analysis week by week, day by day.  The monitor would send her reminders, in the form of vibrating sounds or flashing lights, when she needed to take a certain medication, go for a run or get some rest. The monitor would also be integrated with other systems including her doctor and fitness monitor’s computers, her tread mill, her digital cook book and her personal calendar allowing for Sally to take complete control of organizing and centralizing information.

The design of the Health and Fitness monitor would be intuitive in the sense that there would be a number of constraints that would make each action easy to see, complete, interpret, evaluate and reverse (if necessary). Sally would probably be most interested in using the command mode of the monitor, but for more tech savvy individuals, a direct manipulation mode with open source software would be made available. The monitor would also map the relationship between all controls and actions—in particular the touch sensitive buttons hovering in the air. The feedback from the device would utilize both sound and visual changes to ensure that Sally knows what the effects of her actions are. The ultimate goals would be to aggregate information into one centralized source and narrow the afore mentioned gap between the gulf of execution and gulf of evaluation.

From a user point of view and from a technological point of view, this would be a really great invention that could help many. However, two important factors to consider are: privacy and patient confidentiality. These topics raise a number of questions that would need to be answered if the Health and Fitness Monitor were to be produced and integrated across multiple systems, where many people would have access to personal information. But from a design perspective there are quite a few benefits.