Here’s a different kind of fitness tracker — Freewheel, a prototype developed by Chaotic Moon Studios.
The Austin-based design and development studio was in the news recently because of its acquisition by Accenture. Freewheel was created by Chaotic Moon’s BASE innovation lab, but the idea came from one of the studio’s content strategists, Tyler Hively, who uses a wheelchair himself. The team says it continued consulting with Hively as it developed the product.
In the video below, you can see a few glimpses of Freewheel, and hear more about how it was created The company says the device, which attaches to a wheelchair, considers some factors that other fitness trackers can ignore, like the muscles needed to move the chair and the condition of the road or path.
More specifically, Freewheel uses Hall effect sensors, a barometer, a gyroscope and an accelerometer to measure things like speed, acceleration, distance, altitude, incline and decline. It uses Bluetooth to transmit data and can connect to wearable devices for heart rate monitoring.
Eventually, Chaotic Moon says it could use this data to create terrain maps of cities or mountains, which would be useful to people who aren’t in wheelchairs, too — say, bicyclists or hikers or anyone looking for the easiest walk to the store.
“At the end of the day, the purpose of technology is to improve people’s lives,” said Chaotic Moon CEO Ben Lamm in an emailed statement. “Freewheel combines these completely divergent types of tech in a way that not only enhances the life of the specific user, but — through this aggregation of data — has the potential to positively affect millions of people.”
Lamm added that Chaotic Moon is “currently exploring the patent issues with Freewheel” and will be “polishing and perfecting” the product over the next few months. And there’s no exact release date in mind: “We won’t be … going to market until the product is absolutely right and ready. But when we do, you’ll be the first to know.”
Update: Lamm’s comments have been revised to better reflect the patent situation and release plans around Freewheel.