Scenario: The Gym 2.0

Interactive support for personal motivation

Executive summary:
Fitness centers need to take their customer service to a new level and attract many new members. An experienced personal trainer can be very efficient in motivating members to continue their training and providing essential instructions on how to operate the training machines and set personal goals. But to hire a personal trainer regularly is too expensive for most people.

The Virtual Personal Trainer is a feasible and cost-efficient solution to this, offering most of the same services and helping with the daily motivation. A -real” personal trainer can monitor many more members that are their VPTs and sell individual coaching a couple of times per year. This scenario is based on existing technology.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Robert”™s mobile beeps about an incoming SMS from his Virtual Personal Trainer:

-Message from your VPT: Your last training session was 7 days ago. Hope to see you today, come and get your strength back!”

Robert has worked long hours lately, skipping his sessions at the gym. He feels tired, so the thought of going there now makes him think of many other things he needs to do. But he knows by now that he will be energized if he gets it done, so he heads to the gym anyway.

Arriving at his gym, the electronic tag in his membership card is detected at the door, pulling up Robert’s profile page on the receptionist’s monitor. The receptionist glances at the monitor and then smiles at Robert.

-Hello Robert, it’s been a while, have you been away from town?”
-No, just too much work”, Robert replies, heading for the check-in panel.

At the panel his personal training goals and statistics are displayed. His Virtual Personal Trainer greets him: -Good to see you Robert, today we will work on your triceps and legs, here is today”™s program for you”.

A printout appears, with pictures of all the exercises and data from his last session. His personal goals and progress so far are clearly shown in charts.

Robert gets changed and puts on his headband with a built-in wireless headset. He can now train to his favourite music, selected by his profile that he updates on his Virtual Personal Training website. This profile also includes visualisations of his personal goals, with photos of Robert’s body today and in one year, along with his medical data.

At the triceps machine, Robert is greeted by his VPT appearing on a monitor. The music in his headset is replaced with the voice of the VPT: -Hello Robert, time for your triceps. I have set the seat height and the weights for you. The last time you did 12 reps, so try to beat that today!

Robert pulls the handles and works hard, listening to advice from his VPT. -Too fast Robert, slow down!” -All the way down, please!” -That was 9, just 3 to go!” -Great Robert, that was 11, now just do two more, and you will have broken your personal record, come on!”

At the end of the session Robert feels relaxed and confident again. His VPT gives him a sum-up: -You are doing well Robert! You have increased your triceps strength with 12% and your leg strength with 9% the last month.

I have now updated your web site with your stats and emailed you some useful nutrition tips that will help you reach your goals. See you again on Thursday!”

Henrik Ahlen 🙂

“Strength of mind is exercise, not rest.”
– Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Scenario: The New News

The news I want, when and where I want it.

Executive summary:
Today’s news services are about one-way centralized channel control, -one size fits all” and constant repetitions.

-The New News is based on a personal news profile that tracks my actions and is updated automatically. It is stored in a central database which only my media players and I have access to. This means that I am exposed to news only once wherever I watch or hear them, based on my interests, location and the time of day.

This is no distant future scenario, most of the technology needed for this already exists. But the existing media players tend to stick to their old models as long as possible, and there are of course also copyright and privacy issues.

– – – – – – The scenario – – – – – – –

Sven takes one last glimpse at his mobile before leaving the office.

The display offers some news headlines:

-My business news for Feb 21, 2007. A-list: 3, B-list: 6
-Stockholm traffic: Heavy”

-My weather

He taps the business news and finds three A-list stories, short headlines of importance to his business. He taps them and selects to hear the in-depth versions while he glimpses through the B-list news text headlines. Sven marks one of them for later reading and then taps the traffic report.

A Stockholm map appears with highlighted traffic flows. He taps the button “Best home route” to get an optimized itinerary to his home, based on today’s road conditions.

As Sven is approaching his home, the mobile, sensing that it is in the car, reads out the local news for his neighborhood and collect some offers from the local merchants.

Relaxing at home, Sven watches some sports on the television. When the game is over, he calls up the news. He also updates his news profile, adding Barcelona as a location since he will soon go there on his vacation. This means that he will be notified of events and things to do in Barcelona based on his interests, and when he gets there, he will be presented the local news.

Sven then decides to see the video version of the business B-list news he saw earlier. It turns out to be important to his firm, so he takes out his mobile and emails it to his colleague. He is then also assured that his profile is automatically updated so that similar stories will be put on the A list.

Sven is interested in computer games and the environment, so he is presented with the latest news in these fields. One story about an upcoming Playstation game catches his interest, so he asks for an expanded version and is presented with a log list of other stories about the game, as well as blogs and forum discussions that he can choose to subscribe to.

He has paid a small fee to avoid direct commercials. Instead relevant commercials are collected for him to see when he wants. The fee is reduced for every commercial that he chooses to see, so he goes through most of them when he has the time.

-It”™s great to be in control”, he thinks. -Just think of when I had to sit through a whole half-hour news show with mostly stuff of no interest to me. Not to mention the radio, with the same news blaring every half hour. And no more tampon ads for me either, thank God”

Henrik 🙂

-The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. –
– Malcolm X


I have dabbled with this blog for some time now, writing tidbits about new products that I like etc. But everybody else is doing that, so now it is time to focus.

I am shifting to English. Swedish is a beautiful and clever language, but somehow it is lacking the global spread that I seek”¦

My focus here will be on writing very short scenarios. I like scenarios, they trigger my mind.

A scenario is a description of a situation and how the user interacts in it. It could be set in the future for in the present. Scenarios are often used for participatory design activities, since they generally do not require any specialist knowledge.

The gap is now wider than ever between the vast possibilities offered by today”™s technology and our ability to use it to develop new and out-of-the box products and services. Just look at how most of us use the very powerful networked computers we now have: we mostly type texts and send emails.

My heart is in media, the creation and distribution of it, so many scenarios will describe new ways of enjoying media. Every new medium has always imitated the previous; the first movies where filmed theatre plays, TV started as illustrated radio, internet has up to now mostly been a digital newspaper or one-to-many message medium.

I attended my first interactive media conference in 1988, invited by Apple Computer to San Jose, California. The buzz there was about the digitalization of media and the upcoming merger of television, IT, print publishing and telecom. Well, a lot has happened since then and it is certainly taking off now, but nobody knows what will be the next -killer app” and who will succeed. I suspect that the old, big players in publishing will have a hard time breaking out of their old boxes, since so many of the old truths about media now need to be reconsidered.

So stay tuned, I hope to create some discussion and make new connections, comments are welcome!

Henrik 🙂

“Television is a medium because it is neither rare nor well done.”
– Ernie Kovacs