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Fitness tracker aims to be a coach on your wrist

So you’ve got that 10,000-steps-a-day thing down, and you’re ready for the next level.

What if your tracker told you in real time how to fix your stride or critiqued your swimming stroke or boxing technique?

That’s the idea behind Moov, a wristwatch-sized gadget that its founders refer to as a personal coach at a tracker price.

It uses artificial intelligence to analyze the way a wearer runs, swims, lifts weights, or cardio boxes, the founders say.

Motion sensors track the body’s form, and the device syncs with a smartphone app to provide feedback and coaching.

In the last few years, fitness trackers have become nearly ubiquitous. Samsung and Sony recently announced they are entering the market, competing with the likes of FitBit and JawBone – and plenty of cheaper pedometers.

But for one of Moov’s founders, Meng Li, that accounting just wasn’t motivating her. She had runner’s knees and was in pain. “I realized I didn’t know how I run. We started building around that,” she said.

She and her two partners, Nikola Hu and Tony Yuan, figured many other people could work out more efficiently and with better form – and would like a constant stream of data. Seven yeas ago, they started working on their idea, she said.

Moov, based in Mountain View, Calif., begins a crowdfunding campaign Thursday, hoping to raise $40,000 to start production and send out devices in the summer. There was no prototype to try, but two of the founders showed one off in a video interview.

Hu, a former Apple and "Halo" game engineer, strapped one on his ankle and started to run in place. The device told him how to change his pace and his landing (“Lean forward and land mid-foot to soften your impact.”). He then put it on his arm to cardio-box, and the “coach” suggested his elbow was too low in his punches.

Li likened the boxing lessons to using the game "Dance Dance Revolution" fused with coaching. When Hu did what the voice suggested, he got praise.

As a longtime runner, I can imagine how great it would be to get some good advice. There also are days when running is a refuge from life – and a nagging voice would be be an intrusion. You can, Li says, listen to music while the app runs in the background.

Moov comes in black or white, is waterproof and can be strapped on your wrist, ankle, or arm – depending on the exercise. It will retail for $120, with a $59 price during the pre-order campaign.

mary.macvean@latimes.com

Twitter: @mmacvean

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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