Exercise 2.0 under way inside Intel

Intel researchers are using motion sensors to help people set goals for weight loss or track patients who are rehabilitating injuries.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Sophisticated motion sensors are part of an Intel project to help couch potatoes monitor their physical activity from the, um, couch.

Intel's Beverly Harrison holds a cell-phone sized prototype sensor that could one day monitor physical activity. Tom Krazit/CNET News.com

Beverly Harrison, a senior research scientist at Intel, did a lot of jogging in place Wednesday at Research@Intel Day, the company's science fair of ongoing projects inside its labs. She was demonstrating how someday sensors could be used inside mobile devices to measure the frequency and intensity of a person's daily physical activity as part of a weight-loss program or to help someone rehabilitate an injury.

Sure, gyms these days have all kinds of computerized programs that tell you how many calories you've burned off or what the optimum heart rate is for your age and weight. But Intel's technology would allow you to measure those details while on the go, whether you're walking down the street, jogging around the neighborhood or riding the bike.

It works using algorithms that ascertain what type of activity you're engaged in by measuring the intensity of your movements and adjusting based on your particular gait, a process that takes time to perfect, Harrison said. All that data could then be forwarded to a PC or Web page that tracks your progress toward your target weight, or to doctors working with patients that need to exercise a repaired joint. Intel also thinks the project could have implications for its Digital Health project as the world grows older.

Intel is also working on sensors that could be used inside a personal mobile device to automatically upload messages to social-networking services like Twitter or Facebook, said Tanzeem Choudhury, another company researcher. They could tell when you're walking down the street, heading into a meeting, or in the proximity of one of your friends, and send an update to everyone on your list. Clearly, automation is needed here, as I always seem to be stuck without my laptop whenever I want to update everybody on which room I just walked into here at CNET Galactic Headquarters.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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