Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Exercise to earn credit to watch TV


As I evaluate opportunities, one idea that I have been looking at involves apps, hardware and fitness for students, among other things. In the spirit of "it's not the idea, it's all about the execution" I felt no risk in posting an overview of the concept here. As a mobile app developer I really understand the app dev cycle, but the hardware component here is unchartered territory for me, though I believe there may be some opportunities to leverage an existing bluetooth power strip and API for phase one.

Exercise to earn credit to watch TV

The plan ties into the craze for fitness apps and sensor devices, such as Fitbit, Nike+, but leverages all of that rather than competes. It scales and can be built iteratively. Furthermore, the platform could be extended to address various markets, so the market potential is significant. 

The concept is to create a system that requires kids to exercise to earn credits which would be redeemed to watch TV. This ties into the American collective consciousness that kids are not getting enough exercise, watching too much TV, gaining weight, getting diabetes, etc., and generally increasing the burden on the US healthcare system ($2.5 trillion dollar industry and 17+% of GDP*). The credit system addresses a problem of such scale that it is a key initiative of Michelle Obama** and UnitedHealthCare*** .

Phase 1: Create an app and associated hardware device (bluetooth enabled smart power strip). The app stores credits and those credits are used to turn the power strip on from the app. The TV is connected to the power strip (you could create a locking version to prevent tampering, or just include a unique colored zip tie or security tape that would make it obvious if the power strip were bypassed). This could be live in perhaps 6 months. The credits could be input into the device manually by a parent for starters, but could quickly be extended to include the sensors in the phone, other apps or a Nike+ device.


Phase 2: web platform is created to store the credits. Credits could be imported from other devices, such as a Nike+ device.

Phase 3: As TVs are getting smarter, the objective would be to deploy the app into smart TVs or cable boxes so that the functionality is built into the TV (or we just release an API). The parents could then configure the TV to access the web site to check for credits before a show can be watched. Parents of course could just use their own code to over-ride.

Phase 4: Other devices are supported beyond TVs. Evolved into a marketplace for stored credits.


In the end the objective would be to create a marketplace in which you are the arbiter of credits: credits are earned through a myriad of devices, apps, events, etc. Credits are used by any device (TV, videogame, car, microwave....) that opts to use credits as a gatekeeper. It's a currency of exercise. That is a huge idea, but it all starts with in a phased approach. 

Insurance companies have perhaps the most to gain here, so that is an obvious partnership opportunity as they would be in a position to give discounts to customers via credits.  it would be great if Hollywood would not have to hate the idea, as they create the content that is so compelling that people will kill themselves to get in front of it. Also, of course, to succeed the model would need to appeal to parents and kids, I thought the hardware power strip and mobile app would quickly address that. I'd want to practically go door-to-door and work with local organizations & events like the LA Marathon or charities to sell the app & device and get some early feedback.

References

* Wikipedia - Healthcare in the United States

** Whitehouse, Michelle Obama's Let's Move "America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids" 

*** UnitedHealtchare Challenge - $60k challenge: Breakthrough Health Tech Modifications – Consumer Technology that Improves Health

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