US 20090098981 A1
An interactive virtual training system including at least one exercise equipment device including a video user interface, an audio input, an audio output, voice recognition software for interpreting a user's spoken commands and software that monitors a user's exercise pattern for consistency, where changes in the exercise pattern trigger a query to the user asking whether assistance is necessary, and software for adjusting the workout routine if a user indicates that modification is needed.
1. An interactive virtual training system comprising:
at least one exercise equipment device including a video user interface, an audio input, and an audio output;
software executing on said exercise equipment device utilizing voice recognition for interpreting a user's spoken commands received via the audio input;
software executing on said exercise equipment device for implementing a workout routine based on a user's spoken commands;
software executing on said exercise equipment device for monitoring a user's exercise pattern for consistency, wherein changes in said exercise pattern prompt a query to the user whether assistance is necessary; and
software executing on said exercise equipment device for adjusting the workout routine based upon a user's spoken commands if a user indicates that modification is needed.
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15. A method of personal training, comprising the steps of:
providing a user with a virtual trainer on exercise equipment;
creating a workout routine based on a user's spoken commands;
monitoring a user's exercise pattern for consistency;
recognizing changes in a user's exercise pattern;
querying the user whether modification in the routine is needed if a change is recognized; and
adjusting the workout routine based upon a user's spoken commands if a user indicates that modification is needed.
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This application claims priority benefits under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of the U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/979,213 filed on Oct. 11, 2007, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.
The invention relates generally to fitness training, and more specifically to a system and method for providing an interactive virtual fitness trainer to users in real-time.
As personal fitness becomes more popular, people are looking for better and more effective ways to exercise. People further seek exercise programs which keep their interest and motivation levels high. One of the best ways for people who go to a gym, and even those who work out at home, to achieve a good workout is to enlist the help of personal trainers.
Personal trainers are individuals who usually have a fitness training background and who provide personal training services to an individual customer. These trainers instruct the exerciser how to properly use the equipment, design personalized exercise routines, give encouragement throughout the workout and even, if necessary, give the exerciser help, such as a spot. Another benefit of personal trainers is that they often provide their customers with the needed incentive and motivation to continue to work out and perform, and may also revise the exercise routine over time based on performance and results. However, these, real personal trainers can become extremely expensive and may not be available at all times. Often gyms have a limited number of trainers on staff and therefore it is also difficult to change trainers if desired.
As technology and the Internet have developed, various methods of overcoming the problem with personal trainers have arisen. Many aerobic exercise machines now come with predetermined programs that the user can tailor to fit his/her exercise needs and desires. Furthermore, systems have been developed to compare a user's current and previous performance and adjust the exercise equipment accordingly.
Methods to instruct users on the use of equipment and to design personal exercise routines have also developed. Videos have been produced to provide the details on how to use exercise equipment and computer programs have been written that will custom tailor an exercise routine to a user's abilities and requirements.
For example, U.S. Patent Application Publication 2005/0164833 discloses software that allows users to choose a virtual personal trainer and select their own exercise routine. The virtual trainer demonstrates the use of the gym equipment on a computer and then the users follow the routine at their own pace and at a place and time of their own convenience. However, the virtual trainer is not there to encourage, motivate and assist the user while he/she is exercising.
None of these technological replacements for real personal trainers have all of the aspects of a real personal trainer. None provide the on site encouragement, motivation, incentive or assistance that a personal trainer can give. It is therefore desired to provide a system and method for creating and implementing an interactive virtual personal trainer that can be used on various exercise equipment. It is also desired to provide a system and method for providing a virtual trainer which provides a planned exercise routine and real time motivation based on past performance.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a customizable interactive virtual trainer for providing an exercise routine and motivation and encouragement during the exercise routine. It is also an object of the present invention to provide a system and method which retains exercise data and history and provides the exercise routine and motivation based on the exercise data and history.
These and other objectives are achieved by providing a virtual trainer exercise system including at least one exercise equipment device including a video user interface, an audio input, an audio output, and a data port for receiving a portable storage device, a server in communication with the exercise equipment device, a database in communication with the server, the database including one or more user profiles, software executing on the exercise equipment device for receiving user data from the portable storage device, software executing on the server for accessing a user profile corresponding to the user data, and software executing on the server for generating an interactive virtual trainer based on the user profile and providing the interactive virtual trainer to the user via the user interface and audio output.
Also provided is a method of providing a user with a virtual trainer in situ on exercise equipment including the steps of receiving user data from a portable memory device, accessing a user profile corresponding to the user data, generating an interactive virtual trainer, displaying the interactive virtual trainer on a video display, implementing a workout routine on the exercise equipment, receiving speech input from the user and providing a response to the speech input via the interactive virtual trainer.
Further provided is a method of generating an interactive virtual trainer and workout regiment for use in situ on exercise equipment, including the steps of accessing a server via the Internet, creating a username and a password, entering one or more personal data elements corresponding to the user for storage in a user profile, selecting a customizable virtual trainer for storage in the user profile, selecting trainer attributes indicative of at least one of an appearance and a behavior of the virtual trainer, providing one or more workout parameters, and receiving a workout routine based on the one or more workout parameters.
Each device 110 includes a data port for receiving profile data 142 from a profile storage device 140, a video user interface 214, and an audio input/output 212. The profile storage device 140 may be any digital storage device that is sufficient to identify a user, such as a portable memory stick or a USB flash drive or a database of user profiles. The video user interface 214 includes an LCD monitor for displaying an interactive virtual trainer according to the present invention and/or a touch screen interface for receiving manual input from the user.
The audio input/output 212 includes a voice recognition application such as Natural Internet Voice Recognition (“NIVP”) to receive speech data and/or commands from the user. The audio input/output 212 includes a microphone, or a wireless communication receiver, e.g., Bluetooth interface, for communicating with a wireless headset. The placement of the microphone is required to initiate voice recognition communication between the Virtual Personal Trainer and the user will vary according to the type of exercise equipment to be used but should always be at the closest point in relation to the users voice. For example, said microphone might be placed on the bar of a chest press machine. The audio input/output 212 further includes one or more speakers for providing audio portions of the virtual trainer. The speakers may be included in a headset (e.g., Bluetooth headset).
The NIVP includes software executing on the server 100 and/or exercise equipment device 110 for recognizing and interpreting speech input from the user 200. Based on the interpreted speech input, the system or software thereof formulates commands to send to the exercise equipment device 110 to adjust a workout routine and/or interact with the virtual trainer. The NIVP also receives speech commands to start and stop the workout. For new users, the NIVP may further receive information necessary to create a new user profile.
The system further includes one or more workstations 130. The workstation 130 may be a personal computer remotely accessible to the system or a terminal (e.g., kiosk) located in the vicinity of the exercise equipment device 110. Via the workstation 130, a user may provide user input 132 to the server 100 to generate his/her user profile, and download profile data 142 to a profile storage device 140. For example, the user can select a trainer and customize the trainer's attributes via the workstation 130. The user can also select attributes of his/her workout routine. However, user input 132 and profile data 142 can also be generated and stored to the server and/or profile storage device 140 directly through the exercise equipment 110, e.g., via the user interface 214 and audio input 212 thereof.
User input 132 and user profiles are stored in one or more databases 112 accessible by the server 100. The databases 112 may further include reference to fitness, health and/or particular fitness equipment information which is accessible to the users (e.g., via interaction with their virtual trainer). The server 100 further communicates with the exercise equipment device 110 (e.g., via the internet 120) before, during and/or after a workout routine. The server 100 transmits trainer data, such as data indicative of an interactive virtual trainer, and workout regimens to the exercise equipment device 110 and receives workout results 150 therefrom. The results 150 (e.g., workout history) are stored by the server 100 and used by the system to update workout routines and further generate the interactive trainer. For example, the interactive virtual trainer may provide relevant motivation and feedback to the user based on his/her past workout performance.
On exercise equipment devices 110 that are weight lifting machines, the devices may be equipped with hydraulic technology to change the load associated with the exercise, as well as provide assistance (e.g., a spot) when the system senses a user 200 is in need of help or when a user communicates to the virtual trainer that he/she needs assistance. Furthermore, the exercise equipment devices 110 may be equipped with power seats that automatically adjust to profile data 142.
Based on the user profile, the system generates an interactive virtual trainer (e.g., 520) for continuous display and interaction with the user 200 during his/her workout. In some embodiments, the system provides a three-dimensional display of the virtual trainer to the user. The virtual trainer provides motivation, encouragement and feedback including audio and video trainer data 222/224 to the user during the workout. The system further receives receive input from the user 200 to the virtual trainer via the user interface 214 and/or the audio input device 212. The virtual trainer may therefore ask targeted questions of the user (e.g., confirmations, desired equipment settings, etc.) and answer questions and responds to commands from the user. For example, the virtual trainer may answer questions about fitness and/or the particular equipment, and may implement commands such as changes to the workout routine in progress. In another example, using voice recognition will trigger the assistance and motivation required to complete additional repetitions during a fitness exercise. Alternatively, the device will monitor the pattern and “smoothness” with which the user carries out a repetitive exercise. The virtual trainer will then request if the user could use assistance and how many additional repetitions should be completed. The trainer will then reduce the weight enough to complete the desired set of repetitions.
The system employs the NIVP software to interpret questions from the user 200 and provide the appropriate responses. The system further responds to user's 200 requests by adjusting the workout routine if appropriate and providing necessary motivation, encouragement and/or incentives, etc. The virtual trainer 520 may be able to respond to its name and/or be able to refer to the user 200 by his/her name. During and/or upon completion of the workout, workout data 150 or workout results are transmitted to the server 100. The workout data 150 is stored in the corresponding user profile for access by the user and use in future workouts (e.g., by the virtual trainer). For example, a virtual trainer may suggest increasing a duration or weight to a user based on his/her performance in a previous workout.
The user's workout data 150 as well as additional data relating to the user's overall health and health history may be compiled. This data may be shared with health care providers and insurance providers in order to make better preventative health programs and incentives for their clients.
If the user 200 is a new user, the user is prompted to register (step 405). Registration may include entering or speaking the user's 200 personal information, including but not limited to name, address, payment information, age, and/or weight. Some information, such as heart rate and weight, may be received by sensors of the system included on the exercise equipment device 110 or other devices of the system. Once registration is complete, the user is prompted to design a virtual trainer 520. If the user 200 is not a new user, the user may simply be prompted to log-in (step 409). Once logged-on, the server 100 may access the database 112 to retrieve the user's stored information and, if desired, modify the user's virtual trainer.
Once the user 200 has designed a virtual trainer (step 407) or log-in (step 409), the user is prompted to provide workout preferences (step 411). The step of providing workout preferences may include selecting what personal training devices 110 to use and/or deciding what muscle group to work on. The workout preferences may also include a preferred workout duration, number of repetitions and/or sets, a workout intensity, etc. A user may provide general workout preferences, detailed workout preferences or no preferences at all. Based on the preferences provided, if any, the system generates a workout routine and prompts the user for confirmation of the routine. In some embodiments, a user may add music to his/her user profile. For example, user profiles may include any number of songs and play lists to be provided to the user during his/her workout. Finally, once the workout is created, profile data is downloaded to the profile storage device 140.
The user profiles may be securely maintained by the server 100 or, at the user's option, displayed in whole or part on a webpage. For example, the system may include an online community for fitness minded people to meet and network. Users can view other user's profiles, fitness goals and progress. Users can further post photos and personal advertisements, ask and answer questions via chat rooms, share experiences via blogs, etc.
The virtual trainer 520 proceeds to ask the user 200, via the user interface 214, audio device 212 or any other communications means, if the user 200 is ready to begin the workout and confirms workout parameters. After the user 200 communicates, via the user interface 214, audio device 212 or any other communications means, that he/she is ready to begin the workout, the processor 210 may implement the workout parameters from the user profile and begins the workout (step 609).
During the workout, the processor 210 may receive data regarding the user's 200 performance from the personal training device 110 and may use software to instruct the virtual trainer 520 to provide the appropriate feedback to the user 200 (step 611). Such feedback may include motivation, encouragement to work harder, incentive to improve performance, and accolades for good performance. Such feedback is communicated visually through the user interface 214 and/or audibly through the audio device 212 and/or speakers attached to the exercise equipment 110.
During the workout, the processor 210 continuously monitors the user's 200 commands, through the audio device 212, the user interface 214 and/or any other communications means. If at any time during and/or before the workout the user 200 wishes to modify the workout (steps 613), the processor 210 makes the necessary adjustments, including but not limited to length of the workout, intensity of the workout, number of sets and/or repetitions, etc. The user may communicate using microphones using voice recognition. Placement of the microphones will vary depending upon the type of exercise equipment which is being used. Once the modifications to the workout are made, the virtual trainer 520 confirms the adjustments with the user (step 617), implements the workout parameters and begins the new workout.
As an additional feature, the equipment may be able to track the user's body weight and maintain historical records over time. This data will be stored on the web based database for future access and reference.
In some embodiments, the device 110 and/or displays thereof are operable via selectable menus on any one or all of the displays. Menus of dialogue choices provide a means of communication with the virtual trainers. These choices can be questions and/or responses to the user's answers that motivate you, teach, and direct you through your desired fitness routine. A user may therefore communicate with his/her virtual trainer via the voice recognition application described above, via questions presented on the display(s) with selectable (e.g., touch screen) answers or options, or by both means. A user may also create and/or modify a virtual trainer via a series of menus on the display(s). In some embodiments, the device 110, displays and/or menus are also controllable using a remote or wireless controller. The virtual personal trainers can be designed, profiles created, and routines programmed with the remote control or wireless controller.
Although the invention has been described with reference to a particular arrangement of parts, features and the like, these are not intended to exhaust all possible arrangements or features, and indeed many modifications and variations will be ascertainable to those of skill in the art.