Is AI the secret to perfecting the squat? World’s first ever motion-tracking fitness app acts as a personal trainer
- Perfect Squat Challenge tracks points on the body to judge its user’s technique
- The iPhone app then gives commands and advice like a personal trainer
- Creators hope the app will motivate more people to exercise
The world’s first mobile app which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help people get fit has been launched and teaches users how to do the perfect squat.
The first of its kind to use this pioneering technology, the app watches you exercise using your phone camera and gives tailored feedback like a personal trainer.
Adapting its motion-tracking system to the shape of your body, the iPhone application tracks the way joints move, comparing them to an ideal technique.
AI is already used in gadgets like Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker or to work out directions in online maps, but it is now taking its first steps into the gym.
The app’s creators chose the squat for their test of AI in exercise because it is a staple of weightlifting and mimics everyday movements like sitting down or getting out of a car.
They hope it will motivate more people to exercise by giving accessible fitness advice and paving the way for AI to be more widely used.
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Perfect Squat Challenge uses the phone’s camera to measure the distances and angles between different joints so it can work out how good someone’s technique is
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For Perfect Squat Challenge to work, the user must put their phone upright against a wall or on a table facing them about seven feet away.
When the person’s whole body is visible on the screen, they can begin to do squats, which involve slowly lowering the body towards a sitting position, then standing back upright.
The app pinpoints different joints on the body and evaluates technique by measuring angles and distances between the joints, comparing them to an ideal form.
The virtual personal trainer, Kaia – named after the app’s creators Kaia Health – then gives real-time audio or video instructions on how to improve the squat.
10 MINUTE LEGS, BUMS AND TUMS WORKOUT YOU CAN DO AT HOME
As part of the NHS’s advice on healthy living – it recommends adults do 150 minutes of exercise per week – the health service suggests short workouts to stay in shape. Here is a starter for working the legs, buttocks and core muscles with no equipment needed:
Squats: Two sets of 15 to 24 repetitions.
Forward lunges: One set of 15 to 24 repetitions for each leg.
Calf raises: Push onto your tiptoes then lower your heels slowly back to the ground. Two sets of 15 repetitions.
Bridges: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, then push you pelvis into the air, before lowering it again. Two sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
Stomach crunches: Lie on your back in a sit up position then lift your shoulders three inches off the floor, keeping your back flat. Two sets of 15 to 24 repetitions.
Back raises: Lie face down with your hands touching your head, then lift your head and feet off the floor before slowly lowering back down. Two sets of 15 to 24 repetitions.
Source: NHS Choices
Its founders say it teaches good form for a movement everybody uses on a daily basis.
‘Some people are lacking motivation to exercise’
Kaia Health’s founder and CEO, Konstantin Mehl, told MailOnline: ‘The squat is one of the most functional basic exercises because it shows the same strain patterns that often occur in everyday life.
‘For example, sitting down on a chair and getting up again, getting in the car, and going to the bathroom – are all movements that require similar muscle movements.
‘Thus, the squat is an exercise that a wide population can benefit from.
While some people are lacking the motivation to exercise others feel unsure if they are doing it correctly.
‘By making a companion available on a phone without any other requirements that guides and motivates the user in an interactive way, we can get a lot of people to exercise correctly and experience the benefits that come with it.’
Challenge your friends to beat your high score
Squatting mostly works the thigh and buttock muscles, but also involves the back and abdominal muscles so strengthens the body’s core as well as the legs.
The app keeps track of how many perfect squats you have done and, for those with a competitive or social streak, has an online community where people can share their scores and challenge family and friends to beat their high score.
The app keeps track of how many successful squats someone has done, and the scores can be shared online
Perfect Squat Challenge’s creators say squats are just the start, and AI will one day be useful across the health and fitness spectrum.
Maximilian Strobel, head of Kaia Health’s AI lab added: ‘Breakthroughs in AI-powered motion tracking and correction technology means that everyone now has access to a virtual personal trainer and physiotherapist on their iPhone – and can perfect exercises such as the squat.
‘In the future, this technology will integrate within our medical device apps for diseases and conditions such as back pain creating a scalable, cost-effective therapeutic tool.
‘This democratises access to high-quality, bespoke fitness, rehabilitation and physiotherapy – and could reduce the burden on health services.’
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