VimoFit is hoping to be the one fitness app to rule them all, which is a claim we’ve heard before. But co-founder and Stanford electrical engineering PhD Huan Liu says VimoFit, which presented onstage at Disrupt NY today, is different. Built by Liu and his co-founders Joshua Kozak, and Pebble dev extraordinaire Ethan Fan, the VimoFit app is unique in that it is completely automatic, yet tracks a wide range of exercise, depending only on the sensors built-in to Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch.
Apps designed to automatically track workouts are not uncommon, but VimoFit’s competitive advantage is its flexibility across settings, and how it can work indoors and at the gym, and can automatically pick up on what exercise you’re currently engaged in, and can monitor things like reps and calories burned.
Prior attempts to solve this problem have focused primarily on dedicated hardware, but VimoFit recognized that there was more opportunity to work with the devices that users are already using, starting with smartphones and then moving to the growing crop of smartwatches, a category that looks poised to explode on the strength of the Apple Watch’s launch.
“I ran a research collaboration with Stanford in 2011 trying to motivate Accenture employees to exercise,” Liu told TechCrunch via email. “We were using pedometers to track activities, but everyone hated it. It’s bulky, cumbersome, and it only tracks steps. I left Accenture in 2013 to solve the fitness-tracking problem.”
Though they originally built VimoFit with smartphones in mind, they shifted to smartwatches in July 2014, just after Android Wear was unveiled at Google I/O and devices started making their way out to the first users. And now, the app is coming to Apple Watch, too.
VimoFit isn’t just a dashboard for sensor data, though; the startup is also offering users guidance to help them get the most out of their training. In-app video provides help with how to do exercises, and after you answer a few brief questions about your activity level and needs at app launch, you get personalized recommendations about which exercises to take on. The app also keeps a record of your sets, reps, calories and time spent working out, and you can manually add the specific amount of weight used and other info.
The health and fitness-tracking market is big and getting bigger, and it’s bound to get a lot more competitive as Apple expands its own native fitness features and continues to evolve those. Providers of third-party services will have to do a lot to stand out, and VimoFit is hoping its automatic exercise detection, which it also says will learn and increase its range of detected exercises over time, can help it stay ahead of the curve.