GOQii sport wearable ditches apps, pairs with actual fitness coaches

At first glance, the GOQii is just another smartphone companion obsessed with fitness. This January's CES was like an Olympics event for these. It set the notion that, in 2014, everyone's almost obliged to live on yoga, jogging, and a painstakingly calculated diet served to them by an arm-band, in pursuit of eternal life and fatless abs.

The Samsung Galaxy S5's integrated heart-rate monitor is the latest and strongest kick in this odd direction. It will be promoting health awareness to millions of people worldwide, but frankly, it's not hardcore enough to push our "happy with our imperfections" attitudes into this self-obsessed, regimented lifestyle. A great real-life fitness coach, however, has the authority to not only inspire one to give their 110%, but also strain the last bit of will out of even the weakest personalities. This is the component that makes the GoQii stand out from the pack.

Instead of relying on a fitness app that is all brains and no heart, the GOQii (pronounced Go-Key) pairs its technology with the services of professional coaches. They work with the data collected by its sensors to give users advice and guidance that smartphone apps cannot. The wearable's inventors cleverly saw through that data alone is not enough for motivation and success in sports. Most fitness apps literally throw numbers and exercise suggestions at users, leaving them to figure out the intricacies on their own.

At best, most people are led to things like increasing reps, cutting on sweets, or making an additional hundred steps a day, which are rarely of significance. And, of course, advice by some green-themed app with photos of salads and toned bodies is much easier to ignore than a real person with all the power to make you feel accomplished, or ashamed.

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

A form of online competition is also present. Through their fitness efforts, users will score karma points which can be donated to a charity. Partnering organizations, such as the participating Oxfam International, will match them with actual cold cash. This sounds much better than comparing stats with leaderboards and Facebook friends, which gets old fast and is proven to de-motivate those who may be putting in the effort, but don't ever come out on top.

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

sources: GOQii, Re/Code

Images in the article are courtesy of GOQii.



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