Currently, the most recent version of the Digital Personal Trainer has the following components implemented:
1) The software is written for a PDA device and can be installed or synchronized directly to the user’s PDA such as a Palm.
2) New users can log in and complete the user profile and goals portion. Frequent users are taken directly to a main menu screen to select from one of the following (or the user can navigate via the tabbed menu at the bottom of the screen):
a. Create new blank workout
b. Create workout from preferences
c. Make or View a Workout
d. Track a Workout
e. View Results
g. Exit program
3) The user can create a workout based on the preferences built into the system. Currently, there is not a large database of programs to choose from.
4) The user can view workouts in the “Week”, “Day”, or “Exercise” view.
5) The user can track workouts by inputting their results from a workout session. Currently, there is a minimal amount of storage of such information.
6) The “Results” tab is semi-functional at this point. Currently, we are still implementing the analyses. At this point, a user cannot generate realistic feedback.
In our continuing development process, here are the following tasks we still need to complete (in order of significance):
1) Link the “Track (Log) feature to a database that stores all the results from the user’s workouts.
2) Fully implement the “Results” feature to allow users to generate realistic and accurate feedback from their workouts.
3) Link results to an email facility, allowing the user to forward information to a physician, trainer, or other person.
4) Continuing tests of the interface, especially in a gym environment.
Recommendations to Future Developers
There are several directions that future developers could take to extend the features and usability of the Digital Personal Trainer. The main aspect of the DPT that we hope developers recognize and use is the ability of the device to create a workout for the user with minimal input (regarding goals, duration, and preferences). This is the aspect that has distinguished the DPT from other devices on the market. There were some ambitious goals that we set for ourselves when beginning development and some ideas that were not able to be implemented which may be picked up by future developers.
One of the most important suggestions for future developers is to continue research and usability testing on better ways for the user to create customizable workouts. This feature is paramount to the design of the Digital Personal Trainer, and by gathering more input from users, the Digital Personal Trainer can become more user-centered in its approach to be as versatile as possible. Additional research on types of workout analyses that users desire most and how feedback is best conveyed are also key steps to continue to distinguish the Digital Personal Trainer from other such similar products. If users are not able to interpret and use the feedback to their advantage or modify current routines effectively, then the Digital Personal Trainer does not invoke the desired interaction with the user.
Developers could integrate an almost endless number of exercises to be selected for use. We could obviously not implement an extensive list of exercises in our device because of limited space and time. The more exercises included in the DPT, the better the usability will be for all users, especially those with less experience. Once the list of exercises is extended there are other options to improve the interface such as having visuals of the human body to show what muscles are targeted as well as proper form and technique for a particular exercise.
A link to the web would be very helpful for our interface; either through a wireless connection from the device or through a connection through a PC and then to the web. One use of this connection could be to facilitate the addition of exercises (as mentioned above). Users could link to a particular place on a DPT website in order to download any new exercises that have been added since they last updated. Another helpful interface could be to link to online help or FAQ's. This could provide more advantages over static help provided from the device because the online help could be constantly updated to reflect any new problems or questions regarding the DPT. If the device had a wireless connection, results or exercises scheduled could easily be exported to an email address or a user DPT web site. Then a user could check or update what exercises he/she had planned while they are at home or at the office.
Having a web feature could also enable the DPT to be more “all-encompassing”. This simply means that there is potential for the system to link to other health sites, weightlifting tutorials and guides, and other feedback facilities. A web feature such as this would allow the user to have more information at their disposal and allow for better results. This feature would only enhance the goal of the DPT to be as versatile and efficient as possible.
Our results section is another aspect that could be developed further. When weightlifters workout, they often can get motivation or enjoyment from viewing their results in many different ways. In this respect, the greater variety a user has in viewing their results and workout statistics, the happier the user will be with the interface. Additionally, there seems to be an extremely large number of data sets within the interface that can be represented. For example, a user could choose to view there improvements when performing any chest related exercise over a two month period. Also, users may want to track their results over a long amount of time, possibly even the entire time they have owned the DPT (which could be many years). Storing this information and allowing users to view results related to workouts they did weeks ago gives an extra degree of usability