The wearables missing link

There’s no doubt fitness wearables have become increasingly popular over the last few years. But the big question has always been how long are they actually worn for? It seems that after a brief honeymoon period, the wearable often ends up left in a drawer. And that’s through no fault of the manufacturer or designer, it’s simply human behavior. We start off with the best intentions but the vast majority of us finds it hard to stay motivated and engaged.

In essence, this was the opportunity spotted by Fitbug: to create “Kiqplan”, a  mobile based solution that could work in tandem with your wearable or smartphone to take you through a 12-week fitness or wellbeing program, keeping you motivated and inspired along the way. And the really interesting part was that it wasn’t just for fitness freaks or gadget geeks. They wanted to design programs for everyone – themed according to specific audiences and needs such as new moms or men hoping to get rid of their beer belly.

When we first spoke to Fitbug about helping them launch this, the brief was still fairly open. We knew they wanted to launch with different themed 12-week programs. And each program would set targets and provide relevant motivational content along the way. Where they needed our help was in designing the appropriate platform, the appropriate engagement mechanisms and humanizing the information a wearable throws back at you.

We wanted to create a service that provides users with constant positive feedback and encouragement to help them keep the momentum going and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.
Marion Duncan Service Design Lead, Fjord

Turning usage into a relationship

The success of a project like this is as much about psychology as it is about software. So our first step was to conduct research to understand people’s needs and behaviors. We wanted to know how different people used fitness programs, what would keep them motivated and what they really needed from their wearable.

We kicked off the project with a one-day workshop – the aim of this was to fully scope out our intentions. This included discussing design principles, engagement models, features, tone of voice, content delivery and the triggers for delivering it, the type of information people would want and how much was too much. This helped us understand what the client wanted to achieve and all the different streams of work we were required to put in place to make that happen.

Next it was time to put theory into practice. Some fairly aggressive timescales meant we needed to move straight into prototyping so the Fitbug team could begin discussions with allies and potential retailers. This meant working in a semi-agile way with Fitbug’s internal team of designers and developers and forming a core project team based in Fjord’s offices. Together we worked on multiple streams from user experience and social integration to testing and back-end design. It was an incredibly complex project to manage but meeting with the management team several times per week helped ensure we kept on track.

Throughout the development phase we also worked closely with Fitbug’s internal fitness and psychology expert, nutritionists and other fitness professionals to keep the end user in mind at all times. We were focused on creating what we called “an engagement net” for the user – drawing on the user’s data of how well they were doing against their targets, as a result they received appropriate feedback and rewards. This was designed to stimulate and motivate them across all 12 weeks of their program, keeping them hooked, happy and healthy.

A platform for success

The consumer-facing result was a new app framework enabling Fitbug to build a library of plans; initially containing four different fitness programs: Slim + Trim; Beer Belly Blaster; Healthy Baby Bump, and Goodbye Baby Bump. Each plan lasts 12 weeks with regular updates, recipes, tips and work-out videos to keep the user motivated and focused at key moments. Kiqplan is one of the first services to work across all of the mainstream wearable devices. The app is compatible with the Fitbug Orb as well as other mainstream activity trackers like Up by Jawbone, Nike FuelBand, Withings and Misfit and it also integrates with other fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.

Behind the scenes we created one core and flexible platform – and there will be more plans  in the future – designed to be used without the need for more development work. Just as importantly, we created a platform that is responsive. We can now turn the data collected by the fitness wearable into relevant daily, weekly and monthly goals including targets for activity, nutrition and lifestyle. What’s more, the app can understand where a user is in their plan, what they’ve just done – and if they need to take a break because they’ve got a holiday planned.

This is really only just the beginning. As well as a host of new themes, full social media integration is on the horizon so users will be able to interact, encourage and compete with their friends via the app too. Whether you want to blast a belly or get in shape after a baby, Kiqplan will help you get into shape and be with you every step of the way.

As well as being available from the Kiqplan site, the programs can also be purchased from Target stores in the US, from Amazon and there are exciting plans underway for more stockists.

Kiqplan has recently become an inaugural member of the newly launched Jawbone Marketplace.  The Jawbone Marketplace brings together apps and devices that help further enhance the experience of the Jawbone community and this marks a strong milestone in line with Fitbug’s strategy to improve its market profile as it moves to scale up the business.

Working with Fjord was highly rewarding - they helped us to refine our thinking and create a service proposition that puts the end user at the heart of the experience.
Paul Landau CEO and Founder of Fitbug