CompetitiveAnalysis-BryanTrinh

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Contents

Restatement of the group's idea

After visiting several gyms around the area and upon receiving feedback from our first brainstorming session, we decided to narrow our target user group and broaden the functionality of the application. The application will be an all inclusive guide built specifically for beginning rock climbers in Berkeley.

List of related applications

Strength Training Guides

Climbing Specific Apps

Analysis

iMuscle

iMuscle is a very popular workout aid application that lets users easily discover new exercises for a particular muscle group. The graphical interface makes searching for muscle groups completely trivial. The user needs no knowledge of the different muscle groups other than identifying where it is with respect to a human body. This application is meant for a general audience of fitness aware individuals who wish to train specific parts of their bodies. Unlike our user group who wish to increase climbing performance, this user group has the more direct goal of building muscle for the sake of building muscle. Our proposed idea will suggest exercises or stretches to the user based on feedback from climbing as opposed to the user picking which exercises they want to do. They do however share the functionality of instructing the user how to perform a particular exercise.

iSometrics

This is a popular exercise program specifically geared towards individuals who spend most of their day in an office and consequently do not get the exercise that they need. These users have little knowledge of exercises that can be done at the seat of their desk. The user interface is easy to use and looks clean but lacks the ability to visually search the body for muscle groups that are in need of exercising. Isometrics also does a good job of showing the users how to perform the exercises although it is not as polished without an infinite white background like the iPump Pilates application. Our application will similarly aid in instructing users how to perform different exercises but ours is for the end goal of improving climbing performance. Our routines and exercises will be correlated with the difficulty of bouldering problems the user is able to complete.

iPump Pilates

iPump Pilates is one of a very popular line of workout/exercise applications built for sharing. It acts as a sort of instructional guide as well as a workout log that can be shown to others. The user interface is very easy to follow with good instructional pictures to complement the descriptions. By showing very clear pictures of a person performing the exercises on the white background, the user does not need to interpret any words or graphical representations of the tasked to be performed. The user can just learn by example. We can definitely take some cues from their way of displaying the exercises when we design our system for instructing the user on how to perform certain movements. With a large list of workouts, users are able to attain a level of customizability. This application concentrates on a broader user group of fitness aware individuals that need some instruction getting started. The large buttons coupled with large pictures of real people really make this application easy to use and instructive.

Yoga Stretch

Yoga Stretch provides a unique interface for teaching users how to perform yoga poses. By removing detail from the body, leaving only a black silhouette, a very strong gestalt is produced within each icon. It visually tells the user “hey concentrate on this sort of body position”. The user simply programs a specified amount of time for the total exercise period and a sequence of poses is delivered to the screen. The instruction for performing each pose appears after a button is pressed. Immediately the user might not know where to find this, but I think this was a good choice because each silhouette image conveys a strong enough message that the user does not need extra information. The user group is once again for fitness aware individuals that need some instruction on getting started. This application is testament to Ockham’s Razor principle of less is better if the same functional need is met. In rock climbing there are certain poses that build up the schema of possible moves for different hold patterns. By becoming aware of these body positions for different scenario, the user can better navigate new terrain.

iFitness

iFitness is another popular fitness application that is intended to instruct new gym goers on doing different exercises. The search for exercises for different muscle groups is also quite effective. The application uses a tabbed menu with a picture and words to describe the location of interest—abdominals shows a picture of abdominals with a button to scroll to make the selection. It’s not as intuitive as the visual body search available in other programs, but is not as bad as text only searches. The instructions on how to perform each of the exercises looks very polished with the infinite white background but the images are sometimes too small to see.

Bouldr

Bouldr is an attempt to create the online collaborative climbing guide. It provides gps geotagging of different routes and boulder problems so users can easily discover new problems. The data is user generated simply by taking a picture of the route and drawing a line to indicate the direction of the problem. The data is then hosted on a larger server where others can participate in talking about how to complete the problem. The target user for this application is rock climbers of all types and skill level. It basically serves as a way for rock climbers to find new routes and figure out how to do them. Our application is different because our aim is primarily to provide beginner rock climbers with a better introductory experience to both indoor and outdoor climbing. A downside to the Bouldr app is that tips on how to complete a route can only be communicated by the text that other users provide. Our system will attempt to intelligently figure out the body positions that are possible for a set hold positions.

Climbing Guide

Climbing Guide is essentially a digital version of the many published climbing guides out there. The data is generated primarily by the application developers and comes preloaded with 500 or so climbs from around the world. This application has the downsides that all climbing guides have, the instructions for each climb are described in words, not pictures. The user will also have a hard time finding the location of each rock because an actual picture of the rock is not present, instead they have a vector based graphic representation. The target user for this application is rock climbers of all types and skill level. Although our application is also geared towards rock climbers, we want to cater towards the needs of the beginner rock climber who is still not yet aware of all the possible movements and body positions.

Climber

Climber is a digital logbook specific to the goals of a rock climber. Climber also has the capability to sync up with a website where many people share information about rock climbing destinations from around the world. This application is geared primarily towards top rock climbers who want to one up other climbers by posting up all the high difficulty rated outdoor routes that they have finished. The site is appropriately named 8a.nu, a climbing difficulty grade that surpasses most rock climbers, giving good indication that this app is geared towards the skilled rock climber. Climber has the benefit of capitalizing from the popularity that the site has built up over the years, and really is a mobile extension of the site rather than a standalone product. The interface is primarily text based and information about climbs is disseminated through words instead of displayed through pictures. Our application will also help the user document progress in climbing ability but it will be geared towards teaching beginning climbers how to get better as opposed to elite climbers showing off.

gpsClimb

gpsClimb is another rock climbing guide intended to help climbers discover new locations easily and painlessly through the help of gps. This application is basically a just like any standard gps unit except climbing locations are previously marked. This application is very poorly reviewed because it is essentially featureless. There is one screen with a button that says “Show Me Nearby Climbing Spots,” which when clicked will bring up a list of possible gps locations. This application provides no visual representation, virtual or real, that will give the user any indication on how to start the climbing problems. Again unlike our application, this one is geared towards a general audience of climbers, unfortunately this application is substantially weaker than the other climbing guide apps.

Rock Climbing Dictionary

Rock Climbing Dictionary is exactly what it sounds like. This application is a dictionary of rock climbing specific terminology for all aspects of rock climbing. Presumably this application is built for novices that want to learn more about rock climbing and wish to receive their information in a consolidated manner instead of searching through google. The target user is also beginning rock climbers but they only provide a texted based interface that does not depart too far from a quick internet search. It will however allow the user to find all the climbing specific terms quickly and easily.

Summary

I have found that there are many exercise applications for general purpose fitness, but none that are specific to climbing training. Climbing is still a growing sport and the methodologies of increasing climbing performance are not generally known. This shows that there is room in the marketplace for an application like ours. One that will help beginning rock climbers visualize new movements and techniques as well as a training guide to help increase strength performance.

The existing climbing specific applications either help the users find new outdoor climbing destinations or keep track of progress in the form of a log book. These applications primarily satisfy the needs of intermediate to experienced rock climbers that already are familiar with specific movements and exercises needed to become a stronger climber. Novice climbers on the other hand need significant help building up the strength and more importantly the techniques necessary to climb. An important aspect of climbing performance is being able to visualize how a particular sequence of moves can be executed before starting the climb—none of the current applications address this need.

Our application will solve the visualization needs of a novice climber by matching a specific hold configuration to existing configurations in a database and produce a list of movements to attempt to solve the problem. If the climber cannot successfully complete the movement, suggestions on strength building exercises will be provided.


Key Take Aways

  • The visual display of how to do a particular exercise or movement is very important when designing the application. The user should be able to immediately discern what is happening just by looking at the picture.
  • Searchable images are much better for novices who do not know the correct terminology for different body parts
  • We should be careful not to include too much or too little functionality in the program. Reviewers of the applications that I looked at were quick to complain when an application lacked functionality. We also don’t want to have too much functionality that the user will be confused at what the central point of the application is.
  • A log book is useful for the climbers to monitor their progress, but is more important for the elite climbers. Our system should remove as much of the burden in keeping a log as possible.


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