Eons ago, I used to go to the gym several times a week, but nowadays I can give you hundreds of reasons for why I no longer do so. Meanwhile, my beer belly is slowly engulfing my belt, and that's never a good sign (I really should have joined the Engadget Fitness Challenge). This is pretty much the kind of scenario that Hong Kong's Eggplant Technologies is targeting with its Move It smart fitness apparatus, which has just launched on Indiegogo ahead of its August shipment. In a nutshell, this is a four-in-one compact gym kit that you can leave in one corner of your home, and it comes with a mobile app that not only coaches you, but also lets you meet and challenge other fellow Move It users around the world.
Gallery: Move It smart personal gym hands-on | 15 Photos
When put together, the Move It assembly -- available in either red on black (pictured) or black on white -- comes in at about 40cm tall, 38cm wide and 21cm deep -- about the same footprint as one or two pairs of dumbbells. Thanks to the aluminum and plastic parts, the kit weighs just around 3kg in total, so you won't break your back when you move the set around.
Move It consists of four main parts that cover your basic cardio and muscle training needs: An ab wheel, a jump rope, a pair of pushup stands and a resistance band. We're told that these have all been stress-tested, in case you're concerned about how durable they are. When idle, these parts can be hung onto the strong plastic vertical frame which also has a slot in the middle for your phone or tablet -- you may want to look at your rep counts on the screen.
The two smart handles -- packed with Bluetooth radio, RF radio, gyroscopes, accelerometers and capacitive sensors -- can be stored in the micro-USB charging cradle underneath; they can apparently operate non-stop for up to ten hours on one charge. To start your workout, just plug the handles into your desired equipment and the system will recognise what you're holding.
It's worth noting that the four parts also have extra sensors to help detect your particular workout type. For instance, the pushup stands use a combination of pressure sensors and IR sensors to cover both downward and upward movement, and they can detect whether you're doing standard pushups, wide pushups or narrow pushups using the handles' RF radio. The resistance band parts feature tension sensors that are similar to what's inside digital luggage scales, and it can automatically detect six workout modes like left/right arm extension, shoulder extension, should fly rotation and more.
The skip rope modules have integrated IR-based counters, and combining these with the handles' sensors, it can tell whether you're doing standard jump, reverse jump or criss-cross jump. Last but not least, the ab wheel has its own pressure sensor and IR sensors (for distance measurement), and with help from the handles, it can detect standard rollout, left side rollout and right side rollout; it knows the required force and travel distance based on your weight and height.
On the software side, Eggplant has created some training programs in partnership with professional fitness coaches to provide real-time voice guidance, and it'll even tell you if you need to push harder. Obviously, you can also use the app for just simple rep counting, time tracking and calorie tracking. Everything is stored in the cloud, and you'll get a stats report on a daily and weekly basis. You can expect more advanced programs to be added in the future, though they'll likely require subscription plans. Ivan Ho, CEO of Eggplant and former Microsoft software engineer, also expects personal trainers to utilize Move It to track their clients outside of lessons, as they will be able to add their own custom programs.
Then there's the fun part. On top of the usual training modes, the Move It app also lets you connect with fellow users around the world (OK, a bit like Tinder), find a real-time workout buddy for some motivation, and even send challenges to friends or teammates. Say you're in the mood for a push-up battle, just pick a challenge type (like a one-minute pushup count), send a request to your friend, do your part first, and when your friend is available he or she will then do it as well, and finally you'll both see the game result. Ho says there will be many more challenge options available in the near future, so stay tuned.
Move It is already live on Indiegogo and the current base price is $159, which seems a pretty good deal given the quality of the early hardware I played with last week. Not to mention the wide range of exercise options and the extra software features to come as well. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to somehow go burn off the calories from the pizza and coke I just had for dinner. Oh, the shame!