Amiigo, a fitness tracker bracelet, shoe clip plus app that can tell what type of exercise you’re doing thanks to its combination of hardware sensors and gesture-based software algorithms, has kicked off its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
The team behind Amiigo had originally planned to start crowdsourcing funds back in October but delayed the launch of the campaign to work on improving aspects of the technology and to raise a funding round by a more traditional route. This VC funding round (sum undisclosed) was led by a UAE-based fund called Alpha Investments. Amiigo still wants to couple the VC investment with crowdsourced funding as it says the latter is a way to build a community around the product and “find initial beta users”.
Amiigo’s Indiegogo campaign went live early yesterday morning and is already around two-thirds of the way to achieving its $90,000 funding goal. “We’ve had a lot of interest so far!” says Amiigo’s Abe Carter.
Carter says the system now has the ability to discriminate “very subtle differences” between exercise sessions. “To say not only that you are ‘running on the treadmill’ as opposed to ‘the elliptical’, but also that your running is faster today, or choppier or less consistent. This principle holds true with all exercises,” he tells TechCrunch.
“We’re building a feature where the user can actually record different types of running in a practice session, and then see how/where those are turning up during competition or performance. Additionally, by using activity recognition data from friends and/or standardized references, a user can get feedback on how closely his/her ‘run’ resembles that of a friend or some professional athlete. It can be used as a powerful learning tool.”
Carter says Amiigo users will help the system get even more capable — by providing exercise data to broaden and deepen its recognition system. ”Amiigo will provide the initial reference database (full of well over 100 commonly performed exercises) and the recognition system to identify the activities, but it’s the users who have the ability to take it to the next level. That is one of the things we’re most excited about!” he adds.
Three hundred IT security professionals from across Europe are locking horns in a simulated cyber war exercise taking place today which — if it were a real attack — would be capable of disrupting services for millions of Europeans. The exercise, known as Cyber Europe 2012, is being run by ENISA: the European Network and Information Security Agency, and is part of ongoing efforts to bolster cyber crisis cooperation, preparedness and response across Europe. This is first Cyber Europe event to include participants from the private sector — specifically the finance sector, ISPs and eGovernment — not just the public sector.
“ENISA aims to support the cyber crisis community in improving the resilience of critical information infrastructures,” notes Prof. Udo Helmbrecht, Executive Director of ENISA, in a statement.
The exercise has three main aims:
The first Cyber Europe event took place in 2010 but this event is larger and more complex — with 300 security professionals (rather than the 70+ who took part in 2010) and enough “cyber incidents” being triggered to challenge the participants (more than 1000 injects by the end of the exercise vs 300+ in the 2010 exercise). The event will also look to test the scope for cooperation between the different countries and sectors participating.
In ENISA’s final report on the 2010 cyber security exercise it recommended
The 2012 attack scenario involves combining multiple “technically realistic threats” into one simultaneously escalating Distributed Denial of Service attack on online services in all participating countries — 25 countries are actively participating, while four countries have observers attending the event.
The European Commission’s communication from 2009 on Critical Information Infrastructure Protection helped established the first pan-European Cyber Exercise.
Continue reading here: Europe Ramps Up Cyber Attack Testing With Second Simulated Pan-Europe DDoS
Debuting at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012, Chronos is a new time-tracking application for iPhone that shows you how you spend your time as well as who you’re with, where and when, so you can set goals for yourself. Using the built-in sensors on the iPhone like the compass and accelerometer, for example, in combination with location databases from Google and Foursquare, Chronos can track whether you’re at the office, at home, at the gym, a restaurant, a bar, or anywhere else. The clever thing here is that the app tracks your activity passively by simply running in the background on the phone, then automatically categorizing the hours you log appropriately (“work,” “exercise,” etc.). You can also optionally connect with Facebook to compare your activity with select friends.
While the App Store is already filled with dozens of time-tracking applications, most of those are for the purpose of tracking the time spent on various work-related projects, which is something that people who charge customers by billable hours need to do. These apps tend to offer some sort of stopwatch-style interface, so they require user interaction to run. With Chronos, however, the idea is to have more of a “set it and forget it” type of experience when it comes to time-tracking. Plus, it’s meant for tracking time outside of work, too.
The concept for the application comes from recent Stanford Business School grads, Charlie Kubal, formerly of Pandora and Google, and Dylan Keil, a mechanical engineer who shifted over to the software side, who previously worked as a management consultant. “We realized that we had all these goals around how we wanted to be spending our time,” explains Kubal, “but we would get to the end of the day, and have this feeling of just kind of being exhausted and not having a great sense of where our time was going,” he says. “So we started to think about ways we could address this problem directly.”
With Chronos, users can quickly see a breakdown of where and how they spent their day, and also watch how that changes over the weeks or months. If connected to a Facebook friend in the app, users will also be able to mark when they’ve been spending time with that person. You’ll also be able to get a sense of where you are in comparison with others, by comparing the output in generalized categories like “work” or “sleep,” for instance.
Chronos offers a slightly different angle on the personal goal-setting/habit-tracking space – aka the Quantified Self movement – which has also produced apps like Lift and Saga, for example. By offering a more holistic picture of how you’re really spending your days (and nights, too – Chronos knows when you sleep!) you can begin to challenge yourself to make changes. For example, if you want to exercise more or spend more time at home with your family, you can keep track of how well you meet those goals over the days and weeks ahead. A future version of the app will offer some subtle push notifications to keep you on track, by reminding you of your current progress or that you should leave work now in order to have time for the gym, perhaps.
Based in Palo Alto, the founders are currently bootstrapping the app with their own money, but the eventual goal would be to monetize via lead generation. That is, if you tell the app that you want to spend more time with a friend, and the app knows where that friend lives, it could suggest nearby venues, events, experiences, and more. The app is currently available on iOS only, but an Android version is planned for the future. Sign up is here.
Judges Q&A – Gina Bianchini (Mightybell), Tony Conrad (True Ventures), Paul Davison (Highlight), Rich Wong (Accel Ventures)…
Q: What’s the mainstream moment?
A: Among significant others, it would be about figuring out the work / life balance. It reminds people that they’re not living the life they way they want to.
Q: Is it a utility or social product?
A: It’s a utility, but we make it so easy to use, so that it requires no work on the part of the user. The benefits it provides are worth it.
Q: Is the data public?
A: Only if you want it to be – if you connect with friends. (not by default)
Q: (OK, this one was not really a question, but a comment) You need to find a way to offer positive reinforcement to users to keep them coming back. For Quantified Self people, it works. If you aren’t able to give positive feedback, worry that people wil fall off from checking back in.
A: In the future, a friend could message you “great job.”
Q: How to measure people working at home?
A: It’s a real challenge. Eventually, aggregate data from other data collectors.
Read the original here: Time Tracking App Chronos Shows You How You Spend Your Days – And How Your Friends Do, Too
The world has paid for the luxury of Angry Birds with its health and looks: a new report finds a strong link between technological advancement and expanding waistlines. According to economic think tank, The Milken Institute, a country the size of America will add 4.2 million Spanx-wearing citizens for a 10% growth in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). “The main culprit is the knowledge-based society,” states the report, “more processed foods, a greater amount of ‘screen’ time (watching TV, using computers, playing video games, etc.), decreased energy expenditure, and/or higher consumption of snack foods have all played a role.”
Around the world, obesity rates have shot up higher than the population’s blood sugar. China’s has more than doubled (2.5 to 5.7) in 6 years; India’s has almost tripled (0.7 in 1998 to 1.9 in 2008). But, that doesn’t hold a bacon-flavored candle to American exceptionalism: the U.S. is the Burger King of global obesity at a whopping 33.8% of the population.
The economic and human toll is astronomical. 2.8 million adults die each year from Obesity and weight-related diseases. It accounted for $147 billion in medical costs (or 10% of total spending).
The impact of technological advancement, however, is an average effect. The slender French are only mildly affected by iPhones and Xbox’s because they eat much smaller portions (even though they eat a higher proportion of fats).
Over the past 15 years, consumption has been supersized by 150-250 calories a day, and 300 calories in the U.S. Calorie consumption was dramatically more predictive of obesity than information technology investment. Controlling for calories, exercise, and type of consumption (booze, fat, veggies), Milken estimates about a 1.4 percent increase in obesity for every 10 percent increase in the share of the economy invested in ICT.
Exercise as simple as walking can make a big difference in reducing obesity. But, why stop there? Be ambitious. Go for a six-pack and have your whole business join a CrossFit gym. Or, you can just always order the growing line of mainstream Spanx-wear from the comfort of your well-worn chair.
Read the original post: Report: Technology Has Made The World Fat
It’s no secret that Americans could lose a few pounds. I’m not calling them fat per se, but let’s just say that Hans and Franz are pretty busy these days. In January, GymPact launched a website and iPhone app with the goal of complementing all those newfangled health data trackers, devices, and virtual training apps to incentivize couch potatoes to get up and go to the gym — or yoga, the pool, or spin class.
Today, the TechStars grad is officially announcing that it has raised $850K in seed funding led by Mike Hirshland of Resolute.vc, with contributions from the TEEC Angel Fund, Mike Dornbrook and Alex Rigopolous, the COO and co-founder of Harmonix (better known as the creators of Rock Band and Guitar Hero), Brightcove CTO Bob Mason, and others. As part of the round, TechStars Boston Managing Director Katie Rae will be joining the startup’s board of directors.
The company is also announcing that it has changed its official name from GymPact to Pact, Inc. to better reflect the company’s mission to build an incentives program for a wide range of healthy behaviors, not just those taking place in a gym, co-founder Yifan Zhang tells us. The product, however, will still be known as GymPact, because, hey, puns are fun.
Zhang and co-founder Geoff Oberhofer (who are former classmates at Harvard, where they researched behavioral economics and the ways financial incentives influence our actions) tell us that the fitness platform has incentivized over 250K workouts since launch and has dished out $100K in rewards. Their approach to rewarding exercise, they said, is seeing an 86 percent success rate.
Having secured that early validation, the startup is now focusing aggressively on integrating with running, cycling and other activity tracking apps and devices — with the goal of eventually incentivizing every type of exercise.
Now, some may find it a bit sad that we need financial incentives in order to do our sit ups, but the fact of the matter is that people are busy and there are a million and a half ways life can get in the way of exercise.
So, rather than dishing out badges, points, prizes, or even cash, GymPact believes that the true impetus for healthy behavior (other than peer pressure) is negative motivation. Oh, and also cash. The check-in app works by asking users to create a “Pact,” in which they set a goal for how many times they’ll exercise in a given week, along with the price they’re willing to pay should they fail to meet their goals.
From there, it’s pretty simple: If users meet their goals, they earn cash rewards and, if they don’t, their money goes into a community pot. The startup pays those who fulfill their exercise obligations out of that collective pot, and GymPact takes a transaction fee before it dishes out its cash rewards. (That $100K figure mentioned before is the total amount of rewards handed out after GymPact’s fee.)
Users meet their obligations by checking in at their fitness center of choice, but obviously this introduces the potential for people to game the system with drive-by check-ins. To avoid this, the startup requires people to stay at their workout locations for at least 30 minutes and employs GPS screening that auto-checks users out when they leave the gym. At the end of each week, the startup tallies user attendance and hands out rewards.
At launch, GymPact was only available on the Web and iPhones, but it recently launched its new Android app in private beta and is distributing it to early testers. To clarify, to date the platform’s biggest drawback has been its lack of integrations with fitness tracking apps and devices, but the co-founders said that a slew of integrations are planned for release in August. This could give a huge boost to the startup’s value prop, especially given the recent excitement over health trackers.
After graduating from TechStars Boston, the startup relocated to San Francisco, where it’s busy using its new funding to expand its team and cement those integrations.
Go here to see the original: GymPact Grabs $850K From Guitar Hero Founder & More To Give You Cash For Getting In Shape