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Business

Digifit Takes Personalized Cardio Fitness to a High-Tech Level

Tracking exercise has never been easier — and you can do it right from your iPhone or Android

At one time, Michael Williams was a fit marathon runner. Over the course of several years, however, he grew to be about 50 pounds overweight while relying on an array of medications to treat high cholesterol, asthma, acid reflux and high blood pressure.

But a CBS series on obesity flipped a switch for him. The last segment concluded that the disease is socially contagious and sometimes, he said, there’s not a lot a person can do about it.

“That infuriated me,” he said. “I got up from the couch, ran to the bathroom and threw my inhaler in the trash. I got a heart-rate monitor, blood-pressure cuff and a weight scale. I’m a recovering CPA so I tracked all this stuff in Excel and figured out what caloric burn rate I needed to maintain to stay on my plan to lose 50 pounds in seven months.”

The hardest part wasn’t the exercise, it was tracking it, he said. So Williams started to implement a system that eventually turned into Digifit, a cloud-based data aggregation service that customizes workouts.

“It occurred to me that I had a running watch, the elliptical computer at the gym, a bike computer, a blood-pressure cuff, a weight scale and a heart monitor, and they were all these disparate computing devices,” he said. “If I bring all of that to one place and track all that automatically for people, then I could provide people a dashboard for healthy living.”

In other words, Digifit makes sense of all that fitness data, Williams said. The Santa Barbara-based company offers Bluetooth-compatible sensors such as activity monitors, weight scales and blood-pressure cuffs that upload data to the cloud and display the data in graphs and tables. The Digifit app, which was just released on the Android platform last week, tracks and reports data like speed, pace, distance, caloric burn and heart rate with GPS mapping.

The company has aggregated thousands of measurements, workouts and experiences, from novice to professional, said Digifit president and CEO Dean Hovey.

“If you understand those key measurements, you can do things like help athletes perform at a high rate, help people manage stress or help people lose weight in a way that’s easier than most people aggressively diet,” Hovey said at the Santa Barbara Mobile Meetup in April. “We can learn from successful and unsuccessful habit formation and individualize specific training programs.”

Hovey, who worked in the high-tech industry for more than 30 years and helped design the mouse for Apple, said he joined the Digifit team to help change the health-care industry through personal fitness.

“What’s difficult is that for most doctors, it’s easier to prescribe the pill and for the patient it’s easier to take pill,” he said. “Exercise is more complicated but it affects all kinds of diseases and exercise can point to better health across the board. Now, what we’re seeing is how you merge fitness and medicine in a meaningful way.”

The next step for Digifit is in the corporate wellness industry, women going through pregnancy and people recovering from cardiovascular disease. Digifit can provide the tools and support to change people’s perspective on exercise, Hovey said.

“When all those things align, we have a huge opportunity to affect the health-care industry and people’s lives,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk and @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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