adidas miCoach: Your Personal Trainer Powered by Device
- Gathering and extracting information from smart devices
- Data analysis and powerful presentation
- Two-way data exchanging capabilities involving web portal, desktop app, smartphone and gadgets
One of the world’s most well-known sports goods manufacturers hires Iflexion to rescue the project: their high-tech product urgently needed better usability and performance.
Our Customer — adidas — is one of the most well-known sports goods manufacturers for sports enthusiasts and professionals the world over.
Adidas not only produces sports clothing and equipment but has also diversified into disruptive technology, notably in the development of smart devices. Branded as "adidas miCoach", they have crafted an innovative product range of wearables, which is backed up by a suite of software applications.
The product range includes devices ranging from a smartwatch and a chest strap monitor to a tracker that is attached to your shoelace to monitor pace and shoe life, which can be bought as individual items or as a kit, like the Pacer Bundle. These devices gather different fitness statistics and vital signs, ranging from distance and steps taken to heart rate and kilojoule burn. After a workout, the wearables can be connected to the wearer's Apple devices or a Windows PC to upload the collected data to miCoach.com. The miCoach web portal acquires the data and analyzes it. The results are used to tailor a training plan for the individual; making miCoach a professional virtual coach that is available 24/7.
Initially the desktop component of miCoach was outsourced to a 3rd party service provider. Unfortunately the design, usability and performance were unsatisfactory due to certain technological limitations.
Our client, adidas, needed a consistent, comprehensive solution that had to be defect-free and technologically up-to-date in order to provide a great user experience in keeping with their brand reputation. The main problem experienced by the user was the synchronization of the devices when uploading data to the host. It was determined that a total redesign of the desktop synchronizing application was required. The project objective was to optimize the synchronization process, which would result in increased sales of the wearables.
The first and greatest problem faced by Iflexion was that there was no system documentation for the 3rd party solution. A reverse engineering phase was instituted where the application was decompiled back into the Java source code. Once the source code was available, the team could document the functional specifications and use cases of the legacy system and determine why the synchronization process was not working correctly.
Once the legacy code had been fully analyzed, the Iflexion team were able to develop a new solution that:
- Provided seamless synchronization between the miCoach devices and the desktop application on the customer's Apple or Windows devices
- Transferring data to the customer's computer hardware was now fault-free and effortless
- The final step of connecting via the web portal was also repaired, ensuring that all data was analyzed, collated and interpreted to give accurate and trusted results.
This refined data from adidas miCoach can then be downloaded in the user's preferred format and stored in the device or devices in question:
- The Speed Cell is a device that can be attached to compatible adidas footwear for competitive games, from football boots to tennis shoes and gathers data on game time, effort, top speed and other relevant info
- Heart Rate Monitoring is managed via a smart watch or a chest strap device, picking up the customer’s heart rate during workouts
- There is also a Pacer Bundle that can be used with the above devices real-time to monitor and aggregate the data related to the effort being expended by the user. there are two modes; free or coaching. Free mode is silent, while coaching mode gives spoken and sound feedback with respect to pace and effort.
The devices that power adidas miCoach are wireless and can use Wi-Fi to synchronize the training data gathered during the workout sessions with an Apple phone, iPod or a laptop. The desktop software requires an initial selection and synchronization of the devices chosen from a list of total devices in proximity. When it is connected to any of the customer's miCoach wearables and has added it as a recognized device, the application will connect to it automatically in the future.
Once the devices are connected to their iOS or Windows desktop, the user can start data synchronization with the miCoach.com portal and pass the information via SOAP protocol to the web application for analysis. The data passes though the web UI and transforms it into user-friendly charts and graphs of the trainer's performance.
The miCoach web application enables athletes and joggers alike, the ability to monitor the progress of their workouts and using this feedback to attain balance between the effort expended and the results. Using the personal data gathered by miCoach, it is possible for the end users to establish an individual training plan to achieve their goals. The new customer downloads the personal coaching program from the web portal to their Apple Mac or PC and then synchronizes it with their devices. If the user selects the "coaching" mode, the miCoach personal trainer's advice is relayed via their earphones while training, allowing the user to adjust their performance during the training session.
It was decided to develop the desktop app in parallel with the ongoing enhancement of the web application and continuous optimization of the device firmware. This required increased collaboration and brought additional challenges to the project. Iflexion specialists had to communicate with the disparate teams responsible for the miCoach web portal development, the mobile application, and the wearables firmware enhancements, which were scattered across the US and Europe. The process was optimized for maximum efficiency.
As the Iflexion team had demonstrated their expertise and ability to juggle multiple tasks efficiently and professionally, the client entrusted the quality assurance to us as well as the development. Iflexion QA engineers performed the testing of adidas miCoach mobile applications for Android, iOS, and Symbian. We were responsible for the full cycle QA, from preparation of acceptance testing documentation, through to release management. The testing activities included both manual and automated tests, for which the test cases were prepared by Iflexion, and covered all test types from integration testing to usability testing. Quality was managed throughout the lifecycle from design evaluation and inspection of development in accordance with specifications to usability requirements, and culminated in a successful launch in the App Store and Google Play.
In accordance with the Customer's cross-platform requirements the Qt framework was used for the presentation layer of the adidas miCoach desktop application.
The Boost C++ library provides a home for the business logic and the integration layers in order to support maximum scalability, development performance and overall stability.
The communication layer is powered by an HIDAPI C++ library that is used for USB communication, while gSOAP C++ library was applied for the SOAP and XML web services communication.
Starting from the process of the technology partner selection, Iflexion’s deep domain understanding and relevant industry knowledge were appreciated by the Customer and helped us provide them with the solution that met all their demands. As a result, adidas was able to successfully release the new desktop application, as well as a number of mobile apps that supplemented the original product, with resultant uptake and approval by the market.
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