Smart exercycle that doubles as an art installation
Every adult, at some point of time contemplates a purchase of an exercise bike. Something they can use at home for a quick workout. But most often after the purchase, the bike ends up in the basement in a few weeks.
Moreover, exercise bikes are usually manufactured to be functional and not aesthetically pleasing. This is yet another reason for it to be dumped in the basement.
That’s what led the team at Analogy Design to design an exercycle that’s not an eyesore, and at the same time helps users to focus on the workout better.
Shard, as the product is called, is based on biofeedback interactions that use ambient lights as the core communication interface. Unlike a typical exercycle that uses numbers and screens to convey information to users, Shard gives feedback through the ambient light present along the body of the cycle. The cycle has heart rate and speed sensors which provide input values to an app, which in turn is connected to the cycle, which helps the users get relevant information while working out. Using repeatable, unique light patterns and intensity of glow, you can at all times know where you are with your exercise. Users can easily configure the settings by using “if-else” conditional statements on the app.
The team decided on this after an extensive research into exercise psychology that deduced that for a workout to be effective, the feedback has to be non-controlling and flexible. Light was the ideal medium to convey this information succinctly.
Adding aesthetic value to a modern home interiors
Shard also doubles as an artistic light installation that syncs up to its environment and responds to ambient music with appropriate light art. Shard has two working modes: cycling and standby.
During cycling mode, light provides information feedback to users based on the workout settings and during standby mode, light adjusts to its environment and seamlessly blends in with the interior color tones.
Any user with an eye for style and innovative living spaces would appreciate the use of pristine materials such as glass, brass and leather. It’s that unique blend of technology and premium art that any user would want to flaunt.
“The challenge here was to bring about a sculptural quality in the product using the right materials but also maintaining a balance between both the physical and digital experiences of the product”, says Arun Kumar, the lead product designer at Analogy.
Complementary mobile application
For a truly connected experience, it was imperative to have an accompanying mobile application that works really well with the cycle. Since the cycle had no screen, the app interface helped users configure their preferred ambient settings, color settings, etc. In addition, the app provides options of selecting training regimes or racing tracks- both virtually and with other Shard users. Based on the settings, Shard gives quiet, but informative notifications through its light interface.
This makes the workout routine more entertaining than the one you’d have from a regular exercise bike.
The designers started the process by brainstorming a pool of ideas for an exercise bike that is both sophisticated and smart. The ideas went through an evaluation funnel that filtered relevant and meaningful ideas. Post that, tape drawings were made to figure out a 1:1 proportion. It was followed by concept development including surface modelling.
The key UI/UX development for Shard was pretty straightforward – it had to feel natural to any workout experience and should easily integrate with the user’s sensory capabilities and control modalities. What made it possible were the non-invasive and spatial qualities of light along with the mood enhancing qualities of color.
Shard has received the Merit Award at the International Bicycle Design Competition (IBDC Taipei) where it was lauded as one of the most comprehensive connected products among the submissions. It has also been the recipient of the International Industrial Design Awards ( INDUSTART).
What’s notable about Shard is the step it has taken towards blending physical and digital interfaces. Exercise cycles have traditionally been considered a functional product with no real digital innovation. So, when Shard has made the product ideal for a modern adult in 2020 who’s connected and tech savvy, it sets the right precedence for innovating age old physical products.