As many other millennials, we want to work out and be fit, even when life gets really busy with classes, work, projects, and occasional hackathons. There are many options, such as running, working gym equipment machines, or group fitness classes. Yet, few are as effective as free weight exercises that engage multiple muscle groups, grow power, and are very efficient with regards to time spent working out. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? Well, free weights also need to be performed in proper form. Otherwise, there are risks of not getting the effects of the exercise and getting injured. So do our knees bend properly? Would we snap our backs in the process? How can one monitor all the body parts that need to be kept in specific position all the time?

For that reason, free weights usually require a fitness trainer checking on your form and position. Constant trainer supervision is expensive and unrealistic, because we are all human and look away sometimes. An experienced fitness professional told us that even they seek a coach to overview their form during heavy lifting workouts. Furthermore, once one gets basics down, there is room for self-guided workouts and a reassured monitoring of proper performance. On the market, one can already buy a wearable device that tracks steps and running distance. So why not a free weights digital helper?

This weekend, we decided to face our confusion on the way to fitness. The world, meet Hans.

What it does

LiftHans is a digital trainer that relentlessly supports you during your free weights workouts. The first exercise we have rolled out to support in our app is the mighty yet dangerous unicorn of powerlifting: the deadlift. Hans helps a person perform deadlifts with a correct posture. It can be easily put on the back before the beginning of the exercise. A web app will guide you through the steps and offer a real-time monitor and guide to better posture during deadlifting. In your profile, you can review your overall performance and exercise statistics - in a gaming way!

Hans will benefit any person looking to be fit with the use of free weights. For beginners, it will be an easy and friendly partner as they work to get to the proper lifting form. Gym regulars will enjoy the supportive tracking options and an extra layer of performance statistics and monitoring on their way to more challenging weights or new exercises. So far on the market there are very few wearable devices that focus on such level of performance, learning, and health.

This device will be mostly bought by gyms and health centers that will rent it to their clients upon visit.

How I built it

The first step was to integrate the Arduino Uno with the provided sensors and bluetooth module and make everything run together smoothly. Then, we built a cool webapp with Javascript, NodeJS and React which is used to display everything nicely in one place. The bluetooth is connected to one of our laptops which records the measurements and provides and API for the web app. This way, the data can be accessed from other places as well, such as your mobile or tablet.

Challenges I ran into

To understand, how we can measure and correct the back posture, we had to consult a fitness coach to see what professionals usually look for and how we could translate it into sensor readings. Furthermore, it was quite nasty to figure out the proper calibrations for the bluetooth model and the accelerometer.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We have had comfortable and efficient task distribution among members thanks to our well-balanced team.

What I learned

We all did what we were better at and pushed ourselves to learn and practice what we did not that well.

What's next for LiftHans

LiftHans is a promising idea.

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