Atlas: A Fitness Tracker That Counts Reps and IDs Exercises

Atlas Fitness Tracker

Ever lose count of reps mid-set, or blank on what exercises you did while recording your workout? Atlas, a new fitness tracker currently being funded on Indiegogo, promises to solve both of those problems plus many more. Whereas other tracking devices focus on daily measurements like total steps and hours of activity, Atlas aims to get up close and personal with your workouts, tracking sets, reps and heart rate for a comprehensive look at your active lifestyle.

According to cofounder and CEO Peter Li, the Atlas device (expected to hit the market by the end of the year) was created with one primary goal in mind: “to simplify and automate the chore of writing things down,” enabling users to better track their fitness progress. And because what you do in the weight room is (presumably) very different than what you do at your desk, the device features four tracking modes: basic, sleep, follower and leader mode.

Four Modes, One Goal — Quantify Your Movement

Atlas TrackerThe device’s basic mode measures steps and activity levels, no different than most fitness tracking devices. These stats are displayed in three different places for ease of review — on the device’s touchscreen display, the mobile app and the browser interface. And when it’s time to hit the hay, sleep mode allows users to measure movement throughout the night and receive feedback on total time slept and quality of sleep (i.e. how much or little you tossed and turned).

Follower mode, however, is what seeks to separate Atlas from other fitness trackers. Wear Atlas on your wrist throughout your workout, and it can tell what exercise you’re doing and how many reps you’ve completed. To accomplish this feat, the Atlas team has spent the last few years working with personal trainers, fitness experts and athletes to record the movements associated with 100 or so exercises using inertial sensors that track motion in the X-, Y- and Z-axes. By mapping each movement, they programmed Atlas to recognize the unique fingerprint of each exercise, from push-ups to deadliest — and what optimal form should look like. Yes, the device will not only tell you how many squats you did, but if your form got sloppy midway through.

According to the manufacturers, the device even recognizes the difference between closely-related exercises like chin-ups and wide-grip pull-ups or alternating bicep curls and the two-arm variation. In follower mode, sets and reps are also combined with heart rate data, taken from optimal sensors at the wrist, to provide a more comprehensive look at your workout.

And what about those following a specific workout routine or working with a remote coach or trainer? The tracker’s fourth setting, leader mode, allows users to program the session ahead of time (via the mobile or web app), so you can move through the entire workout exercise by exercise. Find yourself resting too much in between sets? Since Atlas can also track your heart rate, rest times can be based on heart rate recovery. Whenever your heart rate gets back to a certain value, Atlas lets you know it’s time to quit the chit-chat and hit the next set.

Making Moves, Taking Numbers

 “Atlas will be personalized to your style so the more you use it, your Atlas will better recognize exercises.”

What if Atlas doesn’t recognize the exercise you’re doing, even if it’s something as common as a lunge? According to Li, the device can be trained. “Atlas will be personalized to your style so the more you use it, your Atlas will better recognize exercises.” Even if the move hasn’t been catalogued, Atlas can learn it. After a few repetitions, the device can begin to recognize the movements associated with a tire flip, a burpee-pull-up combo, or any other unique exercise in your routine.

Atlas can be a helpful companion outside the gym as well. Since the device is currently waterproof up to one meter, swimmers can take it to the pool (the device knows popular swimming strokes, too). Keep in mind, though, that Atlas doesn’t have a GPS component, so it can’t track exact distance traveled. It can instead estimate distance through combining stride length and stride rate. While the tracker doesn’t support sport-specific exercises just yet (dribbling or shooting a basketball for example), Atlas plans to develop additional technology for various sports down the line.

Currently, Atlas is integrated with MapMyFitness and Fitocracy, so workout details can be immediately synced with those two apps, as well as the Atlas app itself. The tracker will also integrate with another platform determined by voting from current backers of the crowd-funded campaign. Atlas is also developed using an open API, meaning software developers can build their own integrations with the device.

With the Band?

Quantifying both your workouts and your everyday activity isn’t an entirely new concept (the Nike+ FuelBand SE made a move to do both with it’s introduction of “sessions”), but Atlas aims to dig deeper into those activity stats, allowing for more detailed analysis.

While Atlas has far surpassed the $125,000 goal ($397,762 and counting), each additional contribution makes it possible to develop extra features like an increased waterproof rating and vibration motors for alarms and notifications. The device is not available to the public until December, but those interested can have the chance of scoring an early model by contributing to the Indiegogo campaign, which ends on February 7th. Preordering logistics are still in the works, but the device is expected to cost between $160 and $200.

Are you sold on this new generation of wearable tech? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. 

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