Did you hear?... New LifeSpan treadmills sense foot strike to measure steps, increase safety

New LifeSpan by PCE treadmills will tap into the increased popularity of pedometers and counting steps for better health and fitness. A patented technology the company developed with its manufacturer will automatically sense a user's foot strike to count steps as well as to shut it down if a user doesn't turn off the treadmill but gets off.
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New LifeSpan by PCE treadmills will tap into the increased popularity of pedometers and counting steps for better health and fitness. A patented technology the company developed with its manufacturer will automatically sense a user's foot strike to count steps as well as to shut it down if a user doesn't turn off the treadmill but gets off.

Some of the treadmills with the new technology, to be officially introduced at the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver in August, are expected to be at retail in September. Eventually, said general manager Bobby Krause, the step-sensing technology will find its way onto all the company's models, both retail and commercial, ranging in price from $900 to $3,500.

The feature is called "Intelli-Sense Automatic User Sensing Technology," following the pattern of the trademarked term "Intelli-Sense" for other technology used by the Salt Lake City-based company. According to Krause, it automatically detects the impact of a foot striking the treadmill belt and can provide greater step count accuracy than a traditional pedometer. A step counter will be on the console of some models, Krause said, so the treadmill can be incorporated into programs that count steps.

"Adding Intelli-Sense to treadmills is similar to adding airbags to cars to supplement seat belt use. Both automated features detect impact to increase safety," the company said in an official statement.

In addition, the safety shut-off can be set to pause the belt after different lengths of time, but the company has selected 10 seconds at this time based on feedback and research. The treadmill will save the user information when it pauses in case someone just got off to do something such as answer the phone or get a drink of water. Once further refined in future models, the sensor will stop the belt if it detects what the company called a "constant load," which could happen if a user falls or clothing jams.

SNEWS® View: This is yet another way that manufacturers are increasingly thinking about adding features that help incorporate equipment into a user's life. It makes us think of the Horizon treadmill that interfaces with a wireless pedometer to tally the entire day's steps, as well as a Life Fitness treadmill that also counts steps. We like the trend since suddenly equipment isn't something you use a few times a week for 20 or 30 minutes, but also as a daily log for activity and perhaps even nutrition as well as (possible) things like measuring fat, weight and blood pressure.

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