iPhones Replacing Specialized Equipment, Doing More With Less

Wired and Gizmodo are showing an interesting iPhone application and accessory: the LiveRider. Wired describes the hardware: "It comprises a frame-mounted sensor which cable-ties onto the chainstay (the bottom tube) and senses speed and cadence (cranks per minute) via magnets attached to the wheel and crank. This beams its info via 2.4 GHz RF to a dongle plugged in to the iPhone. The iPhone itself sits snug in a shock-absorbing handlebar-mount."

But what is most interesting is how iPhone apps are replacing what was a lot of discrete and expensive tech with cheap or free apps and some hardware upgrades. A whole lot of expensive sporting hardware becomes superfluous.

Another example is Runkeeper, a free app that uses the GPS in the iPhone to track how far you went, how long it took, what your pace/speed was, how many calories you burned, and the path you traveled on a map. A dedicated machine that does this costs hundreds.

Rowers and scullers pay $400 for a speed coach that uses a little propeller glued to the hull and a magnet on the inside, plus another magnet and sensor under the seat to read the stroke rate. The wiring is ugly and the equipment is stuck to the boat.

The iPhone SpeedCoach version has no wiring; it calculates the speed through the GPS and the stroke rate with the accelerometer.

Rowing is not a winter sport, and most rowers I know are serious athletes who get on their bikes or run when the season is over. They have a lot of hardware specific to each, and no doubt, a phone. Now you don't need anything but the phone.

I do not own an iPhone, but it seems to be becoming a sort of universal appliance that is going to put a lot of specialized equipment makers out of business, much as the personal computer did to adding machines and typewriters.

Tags: Bikes | Biking | Cell Phones | Electronics

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