To achieve buff biceps, proper form for strength-training exercises is key, and people often turn to professional trainers to correct them and prevent injury. Cornell student engineers have developed an alternative: A simple electronic device that guides the user through a proper bicep curl.
Michael Lyons ’11, M.Eng. ’12; and Greg Meess ’09, M.Eng. ’10, invented their "haptic exercise coach" for an electrical engineering class project in spring 2010. Their teacher for ECE 4760, senior lecturer Bruce Land, recognized the project’s uniqueness and encouraged the students to apply for a patent.
In September 2011, Lyons and Meess filed a provisional patent application for the device through Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC). The filing status is a yearlong placeholder to protect the intellectual property, giving CCTEC time to perform the necessary marketing and commercialization that will lead to a decision on whether to file a formal patent application.
The haptic exercise coach, which looks a bit like a blood pressure cuff, has two accelerometers that attach to the wrist and upper arm and track the wearer’s movements. A microcontroller takes data from the accelerometers. When the wearer’s form goes out of line with pre-calibrated specifications, the device vibrates in two places, alerting the wearer to adjust his or her form. By keeping proper form, the chance for injury diminishes, say the inventors.
Lyons said the project fuses two of his interests: electrical engineering and working out. He envisions such a device helping people cut down on the cost and time of a personal trainer.