CompetitiveAnalysis-AlexisHe

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Contents

Restatement of idea

The Pet Trainer is essentially a Tamagotchi/pedometer/nutrition-calculator hybrid that encourages exercise through gameplay.

Group K's Brainstorm

List of competitors

  1. iTreadmill
  2. My Weight Loss Coach
  3. Edible's Diet Journal
  4. FoodScanner
  5. LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker
  6. iFitness
  7. PumpOne FitnessBuilder
  8. jogAlot
  9. iPet Dogs
  10. Tamagotchi: 'Round the World Lite

Analysis

Pet Trainer does not have a lot of direct competitors. Hence this competitive analysis will focus mainly on similar applications that may not have all the features as Pet Trainer.

iTreadmill

iTreadmill is one of the most exciting apps I am reviewing in this competitive analysis. It simulates the panel of a real treadmill to log your walking/running habits in the real world. This is very similar to the exercise logger we would want for Pet Trainer. However, the target audience will not quite overlap. Serious runners will want to get the iTreadmill, whereas the newbies who find running a chore will want to play Pet Trainer. Nevertheless, UI-wise, iTreadmill has what Pet Trainer will want. iTreadmill looks like a treadmill panel and includes a VCR-style stop and play button for when you start and stop walking. It also auto detects when you've stopped and pauses the tracker. Lastly, the feature that clearly demonstrates that the designers really understood their users is the auto-dim. When the iPhone's face is covered, it shuts off the backlight to save batteries. Unfortunately, this mechanism is only available for the iPhone and we will not be able to reproduce it for our iPod Touch. But in terms of usability, iTreadmill is one of the best I've seen by creating good analogies with existing treadmill-panels and VCR play-pause buttons. Pet Trainer could reproduce these analogies where suitable. The only downfall for iTreadmill is its inaccurate readings on distances since it only relies on accelerometer data and not GPS information. Luckily, for Pet Trainer's target audience, small inaccuracies are acceptable as long as the game is fun and the users are working out.

Here is a review video.

My Weight Loss Coach

This is our biggest competitor. My Weight Loss Coach targets gamers who want to get healthier, which is also Pet Trainer's audience. My Weight Loss Coach has a game-feel to it from start to finish and creates a lighthearted environment with stick figures, notepads, and icons. Features include minigames, pedometer, nutrition information, personal profile, and progress tracker. With all of the features that Pet Trainer would want, the real missing element is fun gameplay. Even though My Weight Loss Coach was originally developed by Gaming company Ubisoft for a gaming platform (Nintendo DS) and then ported to the iPhone, it isn't very fun. Reviews suggest that users need to already be motivated to losing weight to devote enough time to My Weight Loss Coach. Our pet avatar in Pet Trainer will be the definitive feature that sets Pet Trainer apart from My Weight Loss Coach. One aspect that we can learn from My Weight Loss Coach is its game-menu interface. Unlike all the other apps reviewed in this Competitive Analysis, My Weight Loss Coach stands apart in its amusing animations. Pet Trainer would benefit and increase usability for our target audience of gamers by creating appealing graphics.

Here's a video review.

Edible's Diet Journal

The target audience of Edible's Diet Journal is mainly for dieters and WeightWatchers users. This is not the same focus as our app, as we will target lazy or first time exercisers, not seasoned WeightWatcher-veterans. As a result, Edible's Diet Journal focuses entirely on calorie and point counting. This allows experienced users to quickly find, customize, and add their daily meals from a small food-database. One notable perk of Edible's Diet Journal is its prominent daily-calorie-allowance counter. Users can easily see how many calories are left for them to consume and this allows them to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. In other words, users can plan for their remaining meals rather than languish on how much they've already eaten. We can adopt this format to be more positive in our application. Another good aspect about this app is its ease of use from simplicity. Unfortunately, our users will not only be carb-counting, but also interacting with a virtual pet and logging exercise routines. Therefore, we will not be as fortunate to be able to design such a barebones interface as Edible's Diet Journal.

FoodScanner

FoodScanner is an easy to use food-finding application for a wide audience. Because FoodScanner also allows its users to build a food journal, their target audience includes calorie-counters as well as shoppers who only want to look-up information about foods. In our application, Pet Trainer, we will not be concerned with shoppers and food lookup. Pet Trainer focuses solely on lazy or novice exercisers where fun and engagement are more important than exact calorie correctness. But as food-scanners go, this application takes the cake. The learning curve is extremely small since you only need to take a picture of the barcode to access the food-database. And from numerous reviews, the barcode scanning mechanism is extremely well done: it can process curved or shiny surfaces and works very fast. The main complaint with FoodScanner is its database. Because FoodScanner relies on its users to fill in missing information, it has become cluttered and difficult. We can learn from this mistake by researching common food items to fill our Pet Trainer's database with. As for whether Pet Trainer should have a food scanner, to keep things simple, we shouldn't copy this feature. Besides, what would be the point of having absolutely correct calories-eaten when calories-burned through exercise is bound to be inexact? Although food-scanning is an exciting and innovative idea, it is unwieldy for Pet Trainer's purposes and we should avoid this potential usability problem.

Here is a demo video of FoodScanner in action.

LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker

LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker is an iPhone app extension of the online website TheDailyPlate. Their target audience is existing DailyPlate users who are dieters and exercisers. Again, our Pet Trainer's target audience will be slightly skewed toward the newbies and couch potatoes which differs from LIVESTRONG. This Calorie Tracker contains the basic functions for logging food consumption and exercise levels. The distinguishing feature is its synchronization to the online DailyPlate profile and the ability to graph statistics over time. However, this is also its downfall. From user complaints, we can see that this iPhone app has problems with synchronization to their servers. They still have not implemented two-way synching which causes much user dissatisfaction. But the most apparent fault is its loading time since, with almost every option or input change, the app has to connect to the server and causes the user to wait a few seconds. We should learn from this mistake and make sure server synchronization does not cause uncomfortable wait times. Also, we should learn to better craft our menu navigation because, in terms of usability, LIVESTRONG's menu system goes through too many levels and becomes a blur during use. All in all, this is not a good application from a UI standpoint, but its success hinders on its interface to the popular DailyPlate website. Perhaps we can consider linking our application to existing userbases (like facebook) to grow its success.

Here is a video tutorial.

iFitness

iFitness is a personalized trainer that also logs your workout progress. It is ideal for gymrats and people with gym equipment. Our Pet Trainer is more for the casual or first time exerciser who may not necessarily have access to a gym. By most reviews, this gym trainer app is one of the most thorough out there and contain lots of exercises for each type of muscle group. It also has pictures to show how to do each routine. Having images of exercises being done seem like a good idea to incorporate into Pet Trainer if we plan to expand our exercise logger. In terms of usability, iFitness is simple and elegant since it is designed to be used during gym activities where all the users' attention may not be on the application. We can learn from iFitness and pay attention to what the user might be concurrently doing when designing the fitness portion of Pet Trainer.

FitnessBuilder

FitnessBuilder is a more expensive version of what the iFitness does with a few exceptions. Its target users are social gym members. Again, Pet Trainer will be focusing more on exercises that users can do without a machine. For FitnessBuilder, besides most of the features mentioned in iFitness, it also has a share option where users can compete against their friends for exercise challenges. FitnessBuilder also has a facebook extension. This social aspect of FitnessBuilder encourages its users to compete and therefore improve in their overal fitness. This is a welcome idea for Pet Trainer. Perhaps we can have a battle-mode extension where users can battle their pets with their friends based on how well they've been exercising themselves and their pets. However, this might introduce cheating which may have adverse effects in Pet Trainer's mission statement. This idea warrants further discussion for a potential Pet Trainer 2.0. In terms of usability, FitnessBuilder deviates from iFitness in that their trainer actually shows videos of people doing each exercise. Perhaps we can animate our pet doing the exercise with the user of Pet Trainer.

jogAlot

JogAlot is a barebones pedometer. It's target audience is the novice exerciser. However, since it does not offer any rewards system or logging feature, it is more a tool than an assistant. Pet Trainer is meant to be an assistant to the users' health needs. This means, unlike JogAlot, Pet Trainer targets newbies as well as people lacking motivation to get healthier. Despite JogAlot's simplicity, it is surprisingly popular. We can learn from this and keep Pet Trainer's pedometer simple. Usability-wise, JogAlot is extremely easy to use and fits all its features on one page. This is a rule of thumb -- to keep things simple -- that we should adopt in Pet Trainer.

iPet Dogs

iPet Dogs is a pet simulation game. Its target audience is gamers who love dogs. Our target audience is not restricted to dog lovers, but pet lovers in general. iPet Dogs allows users to configure the pet they own and the pet's clothing. iPet Dogs also allows users to play virtually with their pets in a 3D environment. In comparison, our Pet Trainer so far does not have any item acquiring game mechanics determined, but it may be a good idea to allow users the ability to modify their pets (with clothes and such) so the users feel more committed to their creation. For usability, a 3D environment is probably not a good idea in Pet Trainer in order to keep the interface simple.

Tamagotchi: 'Round the World Lite

Tamagotchi: 'Round the World Lite targets gamers who may have played Tamagotchi as a kid. In contrast, Pet Trainer does not already have brand loyalty and targets gamers in general who want to get healthier. Tamagotchi's features include the ability to interact with the environment, feed the pet, and play with the pet. Although the graphics are simple, it compensates for it by being very cute and colorful. Pet Trainer can learn from this and put more effort in making the characters and environment attractive as well as adopting emotions into the game mechanics. For usability, the Tamagotchi is typical for a game: there are prominent buttons and icons with hardly any text; the transitions are smooth. Pet Trainer can improve its usability by incorporating more icons than text.

Summary

The unique value of our proposition is its merging of fun gameplay with nutrition and exercise. Other applications may cover one or two of those aspects, but none cover all three effectively. The only app to come close (My Weight Loss Coach) falls short in the gameplay aspect because it relies on a stick figure avatar to stimulate motivation. Our Pet Trainer will leverage a users' feelings of ownership and pride in creating and nurturing a pet avatar to encourage healthy behavior. In our case, since the focus is on motivation, the nutrition and exercise counters need not be exact. Many of the applications reviewed deliver accurate calories-consumed or calories-burned where their success is determined by their exactness. Pet Trainer does not mean to compete with accurate food journals or exercise trainers; Pet Trainer strives to serve as a stepping stone for casual gamers on their way to a healthier lifestyle.



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