Exercise, Hacking

Exercise + Gadget Lust

I have to give Adidas credit where credit is due. They’ve managed to tie a $140 upsell to a pair of shoes I bought for $55.

It’s no secret that I, like many nerds, suffer from gadget lust. When I see a new gadget, my thought process goes something like: “Oh that’s so neat… but it’s kind of expensive, and I could build something way better for less money… but I’m never going to actually get around to doing that so I’ll just buy it.”

So when I noticed a sticker that said “miCoach compatible” on the new pair of running shoes I got from the clearance rack at DSW, I was intrigued. “Compatible” is almost certainly a hardware term. Was miCoach some sort of Adidas version of the Nike+? Did this mean that my shoe had a secret cavity for storing circuit boards? And would that cavity also fit the Nike+┬áso I could log my workout data automatically?

The answers to all of the above was yes. Hooray!

I did some research on the miCoach. It’s similar to the Nike+ (widget you put in your shoe to track your workout) but is more of a comprehensive package (includes a heart rate monitor and pacing tool which tells you to slow down / speed up according to your HR). It’s also about $100 more expensive than the Nike+. The shoe sensor has a user replaceable battery, but still.

Then I did some research on the data export. Because what fun is collecting data if you can only get it via someone else’s bad UI? Nike+ hacking is well traversed ground, with easy access to the XML workout data. miCoach doesn’t seem to have much going on, and uses a proprietary binary format to store the workout data (which is then presumably decoded by their servers). Gross.

I was all set to buy a Nike+ when I found out that my 5th generation iPod was not compatible with it. In order to use the Nike+ I’d have to pick up a new Nano. The price of the Nike+ just got a lot more expensive.

After talking to some of the Resistor folks I decided tinkering with the miCoach could be fun. Between the raw data from the device and whatever software is used to transmit it to the the miCoach servers we should be able to get *something* interesting. It’s admittedly pretty far out of the realm of things I’ve done before, so it’ll either be a good learning experience or a huge road block / dead end.

We’ll see when it gets here next week!

2 thoughts on “Exercise + Gadget Lust”

  1. figuring out undocumented steams is fun, and not that hard. If you can capture the stream, and know some numbers, like your HR or GPS location, its usually not that big a deal. Even if its a binary format (XML is too easy to be challenging), its not that much of a hack.

    Could be a cool project.

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