Your activity tracker can count your steps, and your phone's GPS can tell you how far your run was, but can either of them help correct your form to reduce the risk of an injury? No, but Moov can. It can also coach you through biking workouts, count how many laps you swim, and lead you through a fun cardio boxing routine, giving you real-time feedback on your punches' speed and form.
Moov, which started taking preorders at the end of February, is a wearable sensor about the size of a silver dollar that you can strap to your wrist, ankle, or shoe. It packs a magnetometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope; combined with software, the sensors can detect Moov's precise position in 3D space. So it knows not only how far you've run, for example, but also how you ran, including how fast your leg is moving forward and back on each step and how hard your foot is hitting the pavement.
Artificial intelligence lets Moov's apps give you more than just raw data--you get actionable advice. You'll be told exactly what to do and how to do it, plus you'll know if you're doing it correctly.
Moov will launch with five apps: run, bike, swim, cardio boxing, and a body weight workout. (They'll run on iOS only at first, with Android coming later.) In the running app, for example, you can set goals of avoiding injury, running more efficently, or training hard with high-intensity intervals.
If you want to run more efficiently, the tracker monitors your cadence, or how many steps you take per minute, and coaches you to quicken your steps and improve your stride rate. Over time that will help you increase the length of your runs. The company's founders gave me a demo of the "run more efficiently" goal, and it was striking how quickly the app responded to changes in running speed. This is great because while RunKeeper can nag me to log my miles each week, it doesn't actually do anything to help me improve.
To help you avoid injury, the app also gives you real-time feedback on how hard you're striking the pavement, both with colors on the phone's screen and a voice in your headphones. Again, in a demo, the coaching was near instantaneous, and the sensors can tell when you're running downhill and remind you to step a little lighter so you don't hurt yourself.
The cardio boxing app works best with two Moov trackers, one worn on each wrist. The coach shows you what to do on the screen of your iPhone or iPad, and you just punch along, mostly jabs and hooks. You'll see the speed of each of your punches, plus how many calories you're burning, but the cool part is that you'll also see right away if you're doing it right. If your jabs aren't rotating properly, you'll know instantly, and you can correct yourself.
The workout is a lot of fun, similar to an Xbox Fitness gamified exercise program. But since Xbox's Kinect tracks your form with cameras, you need to have enough room for the camera to see your whole body. Moov's wearable sensor doesn't care how closet-sized your room is, and you can do the workout almost anywhere. At the end of the 30-minute workout, the app tells you how many "perfect punches" you had, so you have a metric to improve on next time.
Moov's founders, Nikola Hu and Meng Li, started working with sensors eight years ago while working for Microsoft. They've been developing Moov for more than a year, with the help of elite athletes, personal trainers, and even biomechanics researchers at Harvard. They plan to release an SDK for developers to write more apps that use the Moov sensor, and additional first-party apps will come along too--golf and yoga are the next ones that are planned.
Moov is taking preorders now, at a price of $60 per sensor, or $100 for a pair. Once the product ships this summer, those prices will double. We'll have a full review when we can strap on the final hardware.