Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Track Physical Activity with the Walk n’ Play iPhone App
Researchers at the University of Houston have developed an iPhone application that uses the gadget’s accelerometer to support an innovative biomedical calibration process. Because the accelerometer can sense motion and measure metabolic activity, the application is capable of giving an accurate count of calories burned.
To Healthy Competition
Walk n’ Play also incorporates a competitive component: users can “play” against other individuals or groups represented by imaginative avatars designed by Professor Ergun Akleman of Texas A&M University. The name of the game is vying to see who can lose the most calories. Groups such as “Best Walkers” have emerged and allow avid walkers to compare their numbers of calories burned to those of top scorers. With this application, it’s easy to figure out how many calories are burned by walking from the office to a favorite lunch spot, which can act as a good motivator to get extra exercise. The satisfaction of actively watching the burned calories stack up has the potential to inspire serious exercise and weight loss.
Building Stronger Statistics
Another important element of the Walk n’ Play app is that anonymous information is fed to researchers at the University of Houston. While tracking the success of the app and its effects on the health of its users, the information can be used to generate more accurate pictures of America’s fitness levels by city. For example, Walk n’ Play has substantiated the assumption that New Yorkers do a lot of walking, but it has also shown that Houston’s population isn’t quite as sedentary as predicted. Users of the app provide researchers with a real-time sense of how active people are around the country and the world each day. In the interests of health and science, Walk n’ Play can be downloaded for free at Apple’s “App Store.”
Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She often can be found blogging about general education issues as well as information on college scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.