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June 14, 2012

Joggobot or Joggo Not?

This is the question that the developers of the joggobot ask themselves on a daily basis. Joggobot has raised more questions than answers, not the least of which is what purpose – if any - would it serve on the market. The concept behind the robotic butterfly is to one day present the public with the ultimate jogging buddy – or not. Perhaps joggers will prefer to stick to music. Researchers of Exertion Labs are not too concerned over the joggobot’s marketability. At this stage, they are focused on what the joggobot can teach them about the future of the fitness market.

The joggobot is an autonomous quadcopter equipped with camera and target software. It follows the bright squares on the tee shirt of the jogger. There are very few conclusions that researchers have reached in regards to the jogger/joggerbot interaction, but various team members have announced one conclusion with complete confidence. When joggobot flew behind the jogger, the jogger felt chased. Not cool. 

Every other aspect of the jogger/ joggobot relationship is a question yet to be answered. For example, do joggers want joggobot to fly above at eye level or lower at chest level? Should joggobot serve as a pet, like a dog accompanying the jogger on leash? Will joggobot enhance jogging performance, making joggers run faster or longer? Will joggobot essentially be nothing more than a nuisance?

Joggobot may not be marketable, but that does not temper its usefulness to scientists. In regards to its data collecting capabilities, for example, joggobots go where no mobile jogging apps have ever gone before. Joggobot assesses the jogger's size and shape, measures the jogger’s breathing patterns, and accounts for the weather conditions. But since joggobot is currently in a state of development, there is no relevant information that specifically pertains to endurance performances. The battery would have to last over 20 minutes to get that kind of information.

Jogging can be excruciatingly boring, and any efforts to improve on this are sure to be beneficial in the future. But for some, jogging partners present unwelcome distractions, so how would a robot be any different? If joggobot doesn’t compete and is okay with stopping for the occasional sip of water --- better yet, carries the water, it could be the next best jogging accessory since the iPod.




Edited by Jamie Epstein


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