GOQii sport wearable ditches apps, pairs with actual fitness coaches


At first glance, the GOQii is justanother smartphone companion obsessed with fitness. This January'sCES was like an Olympics event for these. It set the notion that, in2014, everyone's almost obliged to live on yoga, jogging, and apainstakingly calculated diet served to them by an arm-band, inpursuit of eternal life and fatless abs.

The Samsung Galaxy S5's integratedheart-rate monitor is the latest and strongest kick in this odddirection. It will be promoting health awareness to millions ofpeople worldwide, but frankly, it's not hardcore enough topush our "happy with our imperfections" attitudes into thisself-obsessed, regimented lifestyle. A great real-life fitness coach,however, has the authority to not only inspire one to give their110%, but also strain the last bit of will out of even the weakestpersonalities. This is the component that makes the GoQii stand outfrom the pack.

Instead of relying on a fitness appthat is all brains and no heart, the GOQii (pronounced Go-Key) pairsits technology with the services of professional coaches. They workwith the data collected by its sensors to give users advice andguidance that smartphone apps cannot. The wearable's inventorscleverly saw through that data alone is not enough for motivation andsuccess in sports. Most fitness apps literally throw numbers andexercise suggestions at users, leaving them to figure out theintricacies on their own.

At best, most people are led to thingslike increasing reps, cutting on sweets, or making an additionalhundred steps a day, which are rarely of significance. And, ofcourse, advice by some green-themed app with photos of salads andtoned bodies is much easier to ignore than a real person with all thepower to make you feel accomplished, or ashamed.

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So, here's how GOQii works. Thewrist-band, as cool as it looks, is free! It's attached to asubscription service, however, which will cost $99 for six months, or$179 a year. The price includes daily real-time chats with coachesthrough a dedicated app (although it's not specified whether it'sgroup chats, or tete-a-tete), and one check by phone call a month.Although the coaches won't be struggling through the reps and mileswith you physically, they will be able to remotely trigger vibrationsfrom your wristband. Which goes to show what you probably learnedfrom high-school - there's no hiding from the coach. Ever.

A form of online competition is alsopresent. Through their fitness efforts, users will score karma pointswhich can be donated to a charity. Partnering organizations, such asthe participating Oxfam International, will match them with actualcold cash. This sounds much better than comparing stats withleaderboards and Facebook friends, which gets old fast and is provento de-motivate those who may be putting in the effort, but don't evercome out on top.

GOQii will be launching a test programwith 1000 subscribers soon, and the final product is expected for theend of 2014. The service will be available in the US, UK, Singapore,and the UAE. The fact that high-ranking officials from companies likeGoogle, Flextronics, and Seagate became angel investors in GOQiimeans the service is, at the very least, promising.

sources: GOQii,Re/Code

Images in the article are courtesy ofGOQii.

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