We tried Moov's new fitness band, a robotic personal trainer for your wrist that tells you when your running form is bad

Moov’s CEO and cofounder, Meng Li, is adamant that her product isn’t a fitness tracker. “It looks like a tracker, but it’s not,” she tells Business Insider. “We think counting steps is not enough. This is why we built a coach.”

Moov is in the business of building robotic personal trainers you can wear on your wrist (or ankle), and has just announced Moov Now, a sleek second generation of its original product.

Moov, which launched its first generation wearable with a Kickstarter campaign that met its goal in just 90 minutes, will go back to Kickstarter to fund this new band — that’s in addition to the $US3 million in capital it raised late last year. Backers who get in during the Kickstarter phase will be able to snag a Moov Now for $US59.99, which comes to $US40 off the proposed retail price.

But how does Moov work?

Moov employs an accelerometer (like standard fitness trackers), a gyroscope (for sensing rotation), and a magnetic field sensor (to “feel” your orientation). These three sensors together paint a 3D picture of your movement while you’re doing fitness activities like biking, running, or even boxing.

Moov feeds that data into what Li calls the “sports engine,” which interprets it, and has steadily improved as Moov’s team has amassed user data over the past few years. But it’s what Moov does with that data that’s interesting.

Moov uses this information to become a real-time personal trainer. It not only tells you how many steps you’ve taken, but also when your strides are too long, or when you’re landing too heavily on your feet. By analysing a 3D model of your form, Moov can push you, like an attentive coach, to get the most out of your workout.

It isn’t a fitness wearable for people who just want to count how many calories they are losing. It’s for people who want to improve their form, and track that improvement.

When I ask Li whether there have been any big changes to the coach interface over the last year, she laughs. “Users said the coach was too tough,” she says. “They used to ask, ‘Can she be nicer?’ So we added a mode to reduce how tough the coaching is.” Now you can have your trainer be the digital equivalent of a bootcamp leader, or if you prefer, more like your mum telling you how well you’re doing.

The Moov Now will support five different types of workouts at launch: Run & Walk, Swimming, Cycling, Cardio Boxing and 7 Minutes+ Workout. But Li says they will add workouts as their user base requests them.

I tried out cardio boxing, which is Moov’s most unique workout. It’s an incredibly addictive cross between Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. You set up your phone in front of you and watch as little icons representing different punches, like a jab or uppercut, come down a virtual runway toward you. The goal is to throw the punch at the exact right time, keeping in rhythm with the flow of the icons and the dance music pulsing in the background.

Moov Now then critiques your boxing based on factors like strength of punch, timing, and form.

This program is something that is certainly possible with a camera-based detection system like those in many video game systems, but the fact that a fitness tracker can do it, and on the go, lends a new angle. And it was undeniably fun, especially being able to see the relative performances of each type of punch I was throwing. It turns out I need to work on my uppercut.

So what’s different about the new version?

One change is battery life. The original Moov ran on a rechargeable battery, but Moov Now uses a replaceable battery that lasts 6 months. But perhaps the biggest different is the new design, which is much smaller and more streamlined, in addition to having a lightweight and breathable band.

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