Apple has filed a patent describing an iPod/iPhone-integrated personal fitness system capable of monitoring and recording personal fitness data, and of sharing and comparing different exerciser’s data using the web.

Patent number 20090221404 involves interfacing portable media devices and sports equipment. It seemingly describes a solution that takes the existing Nike Plus system for personal training and adds numerous bells and whistles.

The abstract of the filing, published last night and filed on September 26, 2008, reads: “Circuits, methods, and apparatus that allow sports or other equipment, such as gym or other cardio equipment, to write data to a media player. Examples further provide the uploading of this data to a computer and third-party website. To monitor progress, the third-party website can be used to track workout data over time. The third party-website can also collect data from other users, which is particularly useful for providing a competitive environment. This data can then be graphically displayed in various ways to provide encouragement.”

The system would enable gym and other such equipment to monitor exercise sessions in order to write that data to the media player. It also lets the data be uploaded to a website, where users can monitor progress over time. That feature also enables data to be gathered from multiple users, so fitness freaks can get all competitive while they sweat over their exercise machines.

Describing the background of the application, Apple writes: “Portable media players have become very popular the past few years and their market penetration shows no signs of abating. People use them when walking, driving, and commuting by bus or train. They are also particularly useful as a distraction or source of entertainment when working out. People often bring these to a gym or similar location to use while exercising.

“While exercising, many people like to keep track of their progress. For example, the distance "traveled" while on a treadmill may be recorded and progress over time monitored. This can provide positive feedback when progress is made; it can also provide encouragement to improve when efforts have been somewhat lacking.

“This data is typically recorded using a clipboard and paper or notebook. However, this is somewhat time consuming. Because people often carve a few minutes out of their day to exercise, it is not desirable to lose time keeping track of this data; they may need to quickly return to work or home. Also, since it does not happen automatically, such record keeping can become spotty at times.

“The portable media players that are often found at the gym are capable of carrying data. Unfortunately, there is currently no simple way to transfer workout data to them. That is, there is no easy way to transfer data from equipment in the gym to a portable media player.”

The application then says that a solution to allow sports and other types of equipment to write data to a media player for record-keeping and other purposes is required.

The inventors are Jesse Dorogusker, Scott Krueger, Lawrence Bolton, Emily Schubert, Gregory T. Lydon, Debbie Lambert, Michael Hailey and Donald Ginsburg.

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