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Samsung's new TVs can track your workout reps and form

With an optional camera attached, that is.

Samsung Health Smart Trainer Q TV
Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn Low|@cherlynnlow|January 6, 2021 11:00 AM

Ever wonder if you’re holding your plank properly or if you’re squatting deep enough? Or have you wished there was something that could accurately keep track of your reps? Samsung’s latest TVs might be able to help. A new feature in the company’s just-announced Q7-series sets called Smart Trainer uses a camera to help count each pushup and analyze your form. It’s part of the Samsung Health app that launched on the company’s TVs last year, and this year’s Q70A models and up (including 8K TVs) will get the new feature. To be clear, these screens don’t have cameras built in — you’ll have to attach your own sensor for the system to “see” you.

Of course, fitness gadgets that claim to count your reps or gauge your form aren’t new. Devices from smart dumbbells to sports headphones to various apps have promised to do the same for years. Still, having this feature baked into Samsung Health without requiring extra equipment (other than a camera) is convenient. Plus, the company has significantly more users than others who have attempted to make such a tool.

I tried this out at Samsung’s preview event in New York, and am so far impressed. Granted, the demo workout was a Jillian Michaels warm up video limited to two things: jumping jacks and squats. Before the video started, I went through a brief calibration process where I had to make sure the Logitech camera attached to the top of the TV could see all of me in a window at the top right. After a brief countdown, I was told to do 20 jumps and whenever I completed one the system would add it to my total, and a green animation (with accompanying chime) would signal that I got one right.

According to the smart trainer, a few of my jacks weren’t quite right — which I’m not entirely convinced about. It’s nearly impossible to screw up jumping jacks if you’re doing a string of them, and most of the time my moves were getting rejected because I had moved slightly out of frame. Meanwhile, the system was better at recognizing my squats, but it had trouble with our video producer Brian Oh, who was wearing all black. That’s odd, since he was standing in front of a mostly white background and had great form.

Samsung Health Smart Trainer
Chris Velazco / Engadget

Still, the smart trainer recorded that I had completed 23 out of 20 jumping jacks and 20 out of 20 squats within the two minutes I was given, which seems accurate. Unfortunately, because I was so focused on (or distracted by) the system verifying my form, I lost count of my reps. But the number did increase every time I finished a jump, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

At the end of my very short workout, the system displayed two rings with percentages showing how well I met the target number of reps and overall form. I tried the workout twice and both times my results were 100 percent on quantity, while I scored 96 and 98 percent on quality. While I still have doubts on how accurate the software is at judging form, the rings are definitely motivating and I feel the desire to close them next time.

Because the smart trainer relies on a third-party camera to assess your movement, its accuracy might be affected by the quality of what you attach. Hardware aside, there’s also the question of compatible content. Samsung said smart trainer will work with about 24 workout videos at launch, from partners like Jillian Michaels, Obe Fitness and barre3. While I’m intrigued by the idea of an at-home fitness solution that can count reps and monitor form, I’m still not convinced that smart trainer is sophisticated enough yet. I’d love to see Samsung explore this idea further, though, and as exercising at home becomes more popular, this could benefit the company and its users.

Samsung's new TVs can track your workout reps and form