CompetitiveAnalysis-ChristopherWood

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Contents

Restatement of Group's Idea

Exercise is something for which a lot of people don't have enough motivation to do on a regular basis. Although there are tools to help track exercise regimens, like pedometers, these are usually specialized devices that otherwise take up space. A jogger with an iPhone or an iPod Touch, however, can enjoy music and still monitor their progress with a specialized app. I propose a Pet Trainer app, which addresses the issues of portability, convenience, and motivation. The Pet Trainer is essentially a Tamagotchi/pedometer/nutrition-calculator hybrid.


List of Related Application

1. Calorie Tracker

http://mashable.com/2009/01/03/free-iphone-apps-to-lose-weight/

2. Heartbeat

http://mashable.com/2009/01/03/free-iphone-apps-to-lose-weight/

3. Nike Training Club

http://www.brighthub.com/mobile/iphone/articles/27523.aspx

4. Weightbot

http://tapbots.com/software/weightbot/#overview

5. Quitter

http://www.healthyandfitmagazine.com/2009/01/iphone-apps-that-make-weight-loss-hi-tech/

6. iPump Total Body

http://www.healthyandfitmagazine.com/2009/01/iphone-apps-that-make-weight-loss-hi-tech/

7. ARf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0bitKDKdg0

8. Pet Pals

http://www.iphoneappreviews.net/2009/04/14/pet-pals/

9. Virtual Dog

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-9742082-233.html

10. Farmville

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FarmVille

Analysis

1. Calorie Tracker

http://mashable.com/2009/01/03/free-iphone-apps-to-lose-weight/

This is an app that tracks a user's caloric, fat, carbohydrate, and protein intake on a daily basis. Created though the LIVESTRONG campaign, it also has a function that can take into account your daily physical activity.

Target Group:

The target group of this app is less specific than our user group, because a much wider demographic relates to the LIVESTRONG campaign than will an app that simulates the health of a virtual character. However, the main idea is the same: an application that makes users more conscious of their diet and exercise levels, and which acts as a extrinsic source of inspiration. While our user group is much more focused on keeping a younger age group physically active through entertainment, this app takes a much more inspirational approach to promoting exercise and as a result I believe it will appeal to older people.

Functionality:

The scope of this application is somewhat limited, and may not be useful for many people. Based off of the types of foods you input, the application searches a database of foods it has in its server and gives you an estimate of your nutritional intake. It can also factor in exercise, but again this will only be an estimate. Perhaps it is habit forming and keeps calories on people's minds ,but it does not provide much that one could not accomplish despite the app.

Usability:

Unlike our app, the Calorie Tracker provides estimates of the caloric content of foods from various eateries. This is nice for people who enjoy going to restaurants or are too busy to make time for the healthiest of meals. This would be a good feature to add to our app to make it easier to keep track of and be accurate in one's nutritional tally in the game.

Summary:

This app is useful to the extent it allows people to view the nutritional facts of various foods that they would otherwise have to estimate on their own. However, it does a limited amount to motivate people to eat right, and a lot is still up to the user to keep themselves mindful of the foods they eat. What it has most in common with our app is that it attempts to keep the user thinking about eating healthy. This app is better used as a compliment to our app than as a comparison.

2. Heartbeat

http://mashable.com/2009/01/03/free-iphone-apps-to-lose-weight/

After a tough workout, users can tap the screen at the rate of their heart and a big, red heart will pulse on the screen with a measure of heart beats per minute.

Target Group:

Those trying to lose weight by keeping their heart rate high.

Functionality:

The functionality is very limited, as all the app offers is a measure of your heartbeat. It does look somewhat pleasing to see an animated heart pumping away when one gets their heart racing, but I'd imagine the allure quickly diminishes and does little to motivate one to exercise. Again, the functionality is more informative than motivational.

Usability:

It does not automatically calculate one's heartbeat; a user must tap the screen to the beat of his or her heart to get a reading. This may lead to inaccuracies or frustration. If we included a function in our app to track heartbeat, we could have a feature that logs this input and manifests itself in the user's virtual self.

Summary:

This is a very simple app that is not very specific to any group of users. It would be well improved by adding a feature that calculates things such as calories burned per hour at a certain heart rate, or what ranges are conducive to burning fat, building endurance, etc. The app is very simple and puts a lot of pressure on users to know exactly what their heart rate means, and what to aim for. This app does not do much to motivate users and does little to inform them, unless they already have something in mind.

3. Nike Training Club

http://www.brighthub.com/mobile/iphone/articles/27523.aspx

It motivates user by acting as a sort of personal trainer: there is high quality video and an active community that you can get included with.

Target Group:

People who are unaware of how to lose weight and need some guidance. This could include a wide demographic, from old to young and across gender and race.

Functionality:

Each day, a custom workout routine is sent to your phone. The user has no control over what types of exercises are sent to his or her phone, so this would be for people who are willing to take a leap of faith in regard to their workout regimen. However, along with the custom routine the user is sent video to guide them through the process. So this app is really for the unaware. This contrasts with our app in that it caters to people who are not educated in how to exercise, rather than in need of motivation. However, this viral community is somewhat like the virtual world in our app, where your avatars can interact with each other.

Usability:

The usability aspect of this app is very straightforward: a user is sent a workout routine and then walked through the steps. This may seem inane to those looking to try new workouts, given that there is little control over how the routine is structured. For those just starting to become physically active, the usability is well suited and there is a good deal of motivation in getting through a daily challenge. For those more experienced, this app may be a little dull.

Summary:

This app has an advantage over other weight loss apps in that it actually gives suggestions to the user as to how to better stay in shape. Though anybody knows that all that is needed is a moderation of food and physical activity, the broadness of these topics can be daunting. I would say this app does a good job of keeping people aware of health, creating a clear path to achieving health, and keeping motivated. I would say our app could be improved by better mapping out a lifestyle to stay healthy.

4. Weightbot

http://tapbots.com/software/weightbot/#overview

This is an app that tries to make weight management fun by keeping track of your fitness goals and allowing you to view interesting analytical data about your weight changes.

Target Group:

Pretty much anyone trying to stay healthy and is sick and tired of complex, tedious, boring weight management applications. This is very similar to our target group, though this app would be geared to a wider audience. All these designers should have taken cs160 because their target audiences are much too broad!

Functionality:

With this app, you can set your goals. That can include either weight loss or weight gain, and your daily weight will be graphed and displayed with fun facts. There are 3 types of graphs that are supported by Weightbot. One focuses between your starting and ending goal date and can be viewed in 1 week and 1 month increments, another shows all your weight data regardless of your current goals, and the last toggles to a year view summary.

Usability:

The number one thing Weightbot tries to accomplish is to make tracking your health both fun and simple. Much of the interface is designed to alleviate any problems in complexity that may occur, and there are many options that allow users to focus on less specific information regarding their health.

Summary:

Not much is done in the way of motivation besides showing you how you faired against the goals you set in the various graphs that are shipped with the app. It keeps people informed about their health through the facts presented given the user's performance. It may be motivating to some because of its easy to follow structure and clear demonstration of progress. This is similar to our app in that goals are set and then users have to act health conscious to achieve those goals.

5. Quitter

http://www.healthyandfitmagazine.com/2009/01/iphone-apps-that-make-weight-loss-hi-tech/

Keeps track of the number of days you have not smoked a cigarette, along with the amount of money you have saved by removing cigarettes from your budget.

Target Group:

Smokers, obviously.

Functionality:

This app is pretty straightforward, and does not really provide much convenience to the user. It may serve as a constant reminder, motivating the user to keep on the path to quit smoking, but other than that a user could use an old fashioned calendar to replace this app.

Usability:

Pretty simple. A user inputs the last day he smoked, his usual daily cigarette consumption, and this app then displays time elapsed and the monetary reward from the current endeavor to quit.

Summary:

There are many factors that contribute to health, and our application focuses (at the moment) on nutrition and physical activity. It could be very useful to incorporate something like substance abuse into our app. A cigarette smoked or a rail of cocaine snorted leads to negative effects for you avatar. Our app could be geared somewhat more closely to smokers by showing them how much healthier their virtual pet becomes after they kick the habit.


6. iPump Total Body

http://www.healthyandfitmagazine.com/2009/01/iphone-apps-that-make-weight-loss-hi-tech/

Users choose from a list of workout routines, and are then given speech, text, and image presentations. This app keeps track of the routines that you have completed, so users can alleviate boredom by cycling through all of the workouts.

Target Group:

Everyone.

Functionality:

This app is similar to the Nike Personal Trainer in that it gives users preset exercise routines along with guidance through these routines. However, it gives users much more say over what types of workouts that they partake in, so may be a lot more functional for a lot more people. Like Nike's app, the iPump Total Body gives you speech, text, and image presentations of preset workouts. However, more is done to keep track of your progress because all completed routines are kept on file.

Usability:

Again this gives those who are somewhat unaware of how to exercise properly some guidance. Given that there is a large set of preset routines for users to choose from, this app could be useful for a wide range of users. Motivation comes in the form of completing the long list of workout routines.

Summary:

This app, on the whole I would say, is a better version of the Nike Personal Trainer. It does more to lend motivation to the user and gives them more freedom on the types of exercise they will participate in. Given the popularity of apps such as this, I am starting to believe more and more that our app needs to have some preset challenges for the user to overcome, i.e., workout routines that much be completed to ensure the well-being of their virtual pet. This feature would further motivate the user, and have positive effect of guiding those who are not experts on how to exercise a push in the right direction.

7. ARf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0bitKDKdg0

ARf is an augmented reality virtual pet. You can make it play, feed it, groom it.

Target Group:

People looking for companionship.

Functionality:

It is actually pretty amazing. You use the camera in your iPhone to look at a special square pattern that “wakes up” your pet. He crawls out of the piece of paper and then you can interact with him. You can place other markers in the frame of your camera that can then serve as food and water bowls. You can tap at points in the screen to entice your pet, and even draw marks on the ground that ARf will then inspect. There are even markers that will create friends that your pet can interact with.

Usability:

The usability is very unique, and is very intriguing due to its ease of use and wonderment. The way that you interact with your pet is very unique, and users could get addicted to seeing the pet crawl out of its marker and gallop about real world objects through the iPhone camera.

Summary:

This app does not have anything to do with exercise, but it does provide a very innovative view of how users would interact with their virtual pet.

8. Pet Pals

http://www.iphoneappreviews.net/2009/04/14/pet-pals/

A pet simulation game where you can adopt up to 3 pets, choosing from 5 different animals, a cat, a dog, a penguin, a rabbit and a rock.

Target Group:

The design and animations are geared towards kids. It was designed by a guy looking for an app that he could bust out to entertain the kids during long car trips or endless waits at the doctor’s office. The interactions with the pets are cute, such as tickling them, giving them a toy, or brushing them.

Functionality:

This app may be valued by a wide variety of kids, and it surely is an easy way to entertain a hyperactive kid on the go. Because it was designed for kids, the interface was made easy enough to use for someone who has little knowledge of technology. The animals request things that the user gets points for, which can then be used to purchase toys, clothes, etc., so the game can have appeal for an extended period of time.

Usability:

The game is very easy to use, but seem childish to older users.

Summary:

This is a great app to appeal to a younger generation, and because our app is focused on helping to keep kids physically active we could gain a lot from looking at how this app is implemented.

9. Virtual Dog

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-9742082-233.html

A virtual dog that requires signing up to obtain a username and password. Keeping your dog alive is the hard part.

Target Users:

Those seeking companionship, frankly, once again.

Functionality:

This was one of the first virtual pet apps for the iPhone. The graphics are not great, there is not many features.

Usability:

The requirement of a username and password may deter some users.

Summary:

This is one of the first virtual pets created, and it is always best to know the past before trying to innovate.

10. Farmville

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FarmVille

Create virtual crops and harvest them

Target Group:

Everyone. Strange that this is such a successful app when I got such a bad grade on my design because my target group was too broad.

Functionality:

You can sow seeds for free, or you can pay money to buy additional resources. You can also socially network by buying/selling crops, animals, buildings, decorations, vehicles.

Usability:

This app is silly, fun, and simple. It is written in a way that almost anyone can understand.

Summary:

This app is good for our team to look at and contrast with our own design because it contains a lot of user interaction to obtain goals. It is structured like the market, and motivates users to perform well in the game through competition. This is something we would like to implement in our virtual world of health conscious virtual agents.

Summary

So this list of ten apps has given me a very comprehensive view of both how to better encourage exercise, and the workings of virtual pets. I saw that I need to incorporate more guidance in how to exercise, incorporate other forms of health besides nutrition and exercise, innovative ways to implement a virtual pet, and that the idea of social networking in a virtual work may provide extra motivation. I included a summary after each app in the analysis section contrasting each app with our own idea.



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