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GymBuddy Group Members


  • Jordan Hornby | [[1]]

  • Sachin Gozra |

  • Anuwar Miah |

Week 1 - Existing Shared Media Surfaces

This week we were asked to think about some of the shared media surfaces that currently exist, more specifically in a shared household or work/lab environment. Examples of these surfaces include calendars, tablets, etc, (More examples will be found below). Discussing these ideas with the group, we used sticky notes to write down various shared media surfaces that are commonly used on a daily basis, whether its with a family home, shared university accommodation or what is present in some of the lab’s around UWE. We also noted some of the surfaces that are available around the campus itself. We shared these ideas of what we thought shared surfaces were with the class, which helped expand our knowledge on the case. Below are the examples that ourselves and the class discussed in session.

Home Environment

The kitchen is often an area used to share information with the family or flatmates. We discussed what different media surfaces exist in our houses already or what is generally found in a family home. The media surfaces we were able to identify were:

  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Tablets
  • Notice Boards
  • Postcards
  • Magazines
  • Mail
  • Digital Photo Frames

We found it was initially challenging to think about the different media surfaces that are used, as none of us had ever considered them before this workshop. We didn’t investigate too much about what is wrong with how information is generally shared, but we did find that some media surfaces tend to be messy and unorganised. Sticky notes are very useful to quickly share information in a hurry, but they can easily stack up over time on a fridge for example, leaving the rest of the household unclear what information is new or them just completely ignoring the information anyway.

Lab Environment

The lab environment was easier to think about as media surfaces within a lab/school environment are generally more organised and structured. There is often informational posters and notice boards located all around educational sites, which can also be considered as shared media surfaces. We came up with a rough list of what is often available:

  • Whiteboards
  • Projectors
  • Posters
  • TV/Monitors
  • Books
  • Notice Boards
  • Health & Safety Signs

We found that having individual TV/Monitors available in a classroom are very useful to share information with specific activities, such as group work. Posters and books are also very common on an educational site which also share information with individuals about different topics.

Initially, we were able to find more examples of shared media surfaces in a home environment, due to the amount that are available and because personal environments aren't required to be kept formal. For example, leaving sticky notes or personal reminders over a lab area wouldn’t be appropriate or respectful of the work environment. We are considering ways of how information can be shared in a home environment, where it is more beneficial and interactive so that information is shared clearly.

Week 2 - Field Study

Since the last workshop, myself (Jordan) and two other members from another group, visited the Web Developer Conference through UWE. This conference covered various different areas about information, how it can be shared and other inspirational speeches. We discovered new technologies that currently exist, but we also noticed there was a large amount of shared media surfaces within the Watershed itself. I also met with other members in my group and went to Bristol's Cribbs Causeway, as part of our field study and explored the shopping centre to find out what media surfaces exist there. We discussed how these media surfaces provided information and where they were interactive in some areas. We also considered how people with disabilities were able to share and interact with these media surfaces. Some examples of the shared media surfaces we found were the following:

Bus Stops

Bus timetables are largely available around Bristol, due to the population and the amount of buses that are available for transport. These digital surfaces provide users with real-time information about what bus is going where, the bus number and its estimated time of arrival. As well as these digital surfaces, there are also paper timetables available which list the times and buses available all throughout the week. Although these are useful in providing times in advance, they have a downfall of not providing real-time information if the bus is going to be late or cancelled. Observing people and considering myself as a contributor, I find myself and others mainly look at the digital timetables much more than paper ones.

Tesla Displays Tesla Displays

Tesla Cars

Tesla provide a very unique and useful shared media surface within the majority of their cars. This single screen provides different information for the driver and passengers, including the accelerometer, music, maps, battery levels and much more. There are no analog surfaces within these cars, everything is controlled digitally. The idea of implementing a shared media surface which is more practical for the passengers in the car was an interesting concept, but again, we didn't see anything too beneficial that hasn't already been done. We also didn't want to implement something that would be more distracting to the driver. This isn't an area where we will be creating a prototype for.

Tesla Displays Tesla Displays

McDonalds Restaurants

McDonalds have an interesting way of ordering food and skipping the standard queues. They have various large screens in their restaurant which show the menu, provide the ability to customise food and then order and pay, all at one machine. This is a useful surface, although it doesn't allow users to share information. This was an interesting concept which we could use to come up with ideas on how to create an interactive shared media surface in a similar environment.

McDonalds Displays

Student Accommodation

Student accommodations very often have notice boards and different surfaces where information is displayed. Within Blenheim Court accommodation, there are several notice boards with large amounts of information about different events, advice, advertisements, etc. They also have a TV monitor by the lifts which advertise different information about bike rentals, student advice, living advice, etc. Both are placed by the lifts as it is a popular area where students will see the information whilst walking by or waiting. Students may also be able to share information via these surfaces upon request by the reception. This is an interested concept due to the vast amount of information that is being shared and the large amount of people that it is shared with. This could possibly be a viable area to gather information about and try to create ideas for a more convenient media surface which is more accessible and organised.

Tesla Displays

The Gym

During individual research, we also found that the gym was an interesting place where information could be shared, but was very limited. As some members of the group enjoy the gym in our personal time, we discussed its relevance to the course and how its limited shared surfaces may be a potential candidate for our project, whatever it may be. The gym includes shared surfaces such as posters and possible timetables located in certain areas, which provide users with motivational quotes, information about stretches and different workouts. But it is very limited in terms of how users interact with each other using technology. Below are images of the current surfaces available.

Machine Surface 1 Machine Surface 2


To conclude, there are various different types of shared media surfaces out there in the world already, but there is still so much room to improve, technologies to take advantage of and different ways in how we can interact with each other. Cribb's Causeway gave us a introduction into what is out there and how users interact with others already, but it didn't inspire us to create something in a largely populated area. It also didn't inspire us with any ideas on what we can do to improve a household or lab environment. We may be considering the gym as an environment due to its currently limited shared media surfaces. Although this is still yet to be decided, we feel the gym has potential and we will be researching different ways in how we can interact with others in this environment.

Week 3 - GymBuddy Design Brief

Project Name


Project Summary

Our project will be designed to provide users with a shared media surface within the gym. This surface will provide them with metrics about their workouts including heart rate, calories burned and their total active time. But it's main purpose is to provide a visual experience of their workout, to provide users with accurate metrics but to mainly provide a competitive edge to the environment. The gym can often be a competitive place, trying to build yourself to the point where others are at. And for those who are ahead of others, they tend to enjoy bragging their current weight/rep amount to their friends. This also motivates others in being able to build themselves the way their competitive others have. The surface used to share this information will be the mirror itself, where the information and UI will be displayed via projectors. Each user will have an individual ID which will provide them entry to the gym, as well as link their account to the mirror. This will be used via NFC tags which will receive information from the watch to activate each users ID. There will also be motion detectors which monitor the users movement, which will provide them information on their structure during workout and what workout they're doing.

What is the Current Situation?

Currently, their isn't any technology for an area such as this in today's gym's. Mostly gym users interact with each other but not with technology involved. Some gym users may already own smartwatches which provide them with metrics about their workout, but none are able to keep track or detect workouts with weights. These have to be manually entered into third party apps, which are still unable to provide accurate results.

What Problem are We Trying to Resolve?

The problems we are trying to resolve in the gym through gym buddy are:

  • Lack of motivation in the gym
  • Feedback on workout form
  • Provide ALL users with metric data on their workouts
  • Enable interaction with more people
  • Provide a competitive edge to boost motivation and morale

Users currently don't interact through technology within the gym. Although this isn't a major problem in interacting with others, there are still large improvements that can be made, which is what our prototype aims to do. Our project will also remove the void from those who can keep track of their workouts via wearable tech, to those who may not be able to afford them.

Who is this Going to Impact?

This is going to have an impact on all gym users, as our prototype will close the gap between those who have the technology and who doesn't. This will also be useful for those who aren't into working out with weights, as they can still track their workout metrics.

What are the Constraints?

  • Development Skills - As a group, our development skills are limited to a certain point. I, Jordan, have experience with C+, Python and Javascript, but producing such complex code may be an issue. Outsourcing may be required.
  • Cost - The cost of the resources required may be an issue, as the resources we will need will not be cheap due to them being recent technologies. NFC tags are reasonably cheap, wristbands can also be cheap but the projection itself is where the main costs lie.

Project Schedule


  • Seek a gym to test prototype/observe
  • Research and observation in gym activity


  • Build first prototype
  • Test first prototype
  • Further research into gym activity and relevance of prototype
  • Prepare for improvements or second build of prototype


  • Final build of prototype
  • Test prototype in a real working environment
  • Gather feedback about prototype and its potential
  • Record video demo of working prototype
  • Design poster to coincide with demo and video

Final Prototype

The final prototype will be based around a wristband, which will have NFC features which will be used for entry to the gym and for ID verification when using the GymBuddy mirror and UI. Motion sensors will be put in place to replicate the user on screen and to track their form. They will also be able to view their workout metrics somewhere on the UI, which is also tracked by the heart rate monitor inside the wristband, as well as burned calories which is calculated by the MET formula for workouts.

Gantt Schedule for GymBuddy


Week 4 - First Prototype Concepts

Initial Prototype Concept

Our initial prototype idea was to create an application which would be stationed centrally in the gym. There would be multiple versions of these screens located around the gym for users to interact with, depending on what they are working out. This application would provide users with an individual account, which would allow to them view different types of workouts along with instructional videos, their progress in the gym and their history of workouts. The user would verify themselves using a fingerprint scanner which each user would be required to do during enrolment. Sachin and Anuwar designed a first prototype of what the user interface would look like, as shown below.

This concept was found to be potentially useful, but did not cover the primary focus of the whole project, which is to create a shared media surface. Discussing with our tutor and group at once, we decided that this wasn't fit for purpose but it was an interesting field to focus on. Keeping our target audience as the gym, we focused on what people do in the gym and how we implement a shared surface which can be practical and interesting. We decided to scrap this concept, but still keeping the key aspects of the idea and redesigning it for a more centralised, interactive surface.

Initial Prototype Design Concept

GymBuddy Log In Screen GymBuddy Home Screen GymBuddy Programs GymBuddy Muscle Gain GymBuddy Workout Page GymBuddy Instructions

Amended Prototype Concept

After discussing more ideas with the group and tutor, we came up with a design which still contains the same basis as our original idea, but in a different format. Our aim is to provide users with a single surface that can be used to share and display information with each other. For an environment such as the gym, it is useful to display specific attributes such as time, heart rate, calories burned, etc. Therefore we aim to provide the user with this information by using a wristband and a mirror. Each user will be given a wristband when joining the gym. This wristband will include a heart rate monitor, accelerometer and other components which gather information about the users heart rate, calorie loss, etc. When ready, the user will tap the watch on an NFC sensor, and then the information will be projected onto the mirror in front of the user. Sachin drew a mock-up design below as shown in the images. This is an example of what the user interface may look like.

Our next steps will be testing out different designs to see what user interface works best. We will also be investigating more features which can be added and more ways into how users can interact with each other. We do not want this to simply be a mobile application projected onto the mirror. We aim for this to make use of the best technology currently available, creating a unique easy experience for gym users.

Amended Prototype Design Concept

Prototype Design

Week 5 - Research and 2nd Prototype

Following on from last weeks prototype concept, we found that it did not qualify for the assessment criteria, but it also didn't qualify for what our prototype essentially aims to be. We want to create one surface where gym users can interact with each other, but also a place where they can get information about their workouts, which is a privilege only some gym users have with current wearable technology.

Although we like the concept in terms of using the mirror and displaying workout attributes, we feel it is still basic and limits the user to what they can do. We started to think realistically about the environment and what resources we could use to implement this solution. Using last week's sketch, we started to create a digital version of the user interface using simple presentation tools. The UI consisted of a greeting for the user, then a list of the users workout data. Although this was useful for gym users, it didn't accomplish much of the the "sharing" experience we're aiming for in the gym.

This week we also wanted to revisit a gym where we could implement our prototype, as well as examine gym behaviour and whether our prototype would be useful for users. We visited one of the UWE gyms and found that it was rather small, which made it a perfect candidate to test our prototype. There are only two benches in the weights area with a large mirror spreading across the width of the wall, which provides a perfect side-by-side area to use this prototype. We also had some interest from one of the gym members who we briefly introduced our idea too. He liked the idea of our prototype, but as all the equipment was exposed and not in fully working order, it gave an impression that this would be too much hassle for someone who just wants to workout. This was an eye-opener in terms of realising that ease-of-use is extremely important in any product. We aim to keep the amount of user input to a minimum and to create it so that the equipment for the prototype itself are hidden. This way, for users who do not with to use it, they do not have to see or interact with it.

Providing an easy experience for the user is important for us, which is why we want the amount of user input to be as minimalistic as possible. We need a simple solution for users to be recognised by our system, therefore we will use NFC tags to identify the user using the wristbands, which each gym member will be provided with during enrolment. This will provide them entry and will be used to tap the NFC tag near the mirror, which will identify the user and display their name and statistics.

Now we have more of an understanding about what our resources are and what we need, we can begin to build our prototype. For the rest of the week, we will begin to build our second prototype to get a clear idea of how it will work and if there are any issues or features that need to be implemented.

Prototype Concept

GymBuddy Entry Mirror UI

Research and Findings

After testing a semi-working version of this prototype, we found that we were very close to accomplishing what we are aiming for. The NFC tags to identify the user are very useful in identifying each user from just one tap of the wristband. The information displayed on the screen is also useful, but we still aren't satisfied with what the prototype presents. We want it to display the workout attributes, but we don't feel this is strong enough to be the primary purpose of the prototype. Sachin came up with the idea to display different workouts on the screen and listing different attributes such as max weight and amount of reps. The gym is already a competitive place where people want to "show-off" their progress and how much they can lift. With the use of GymBuddy, this could provide an area where users can share this information and interact with each other, creating a kind-of competitive area. It can also be used to motivate others to becoming better than a friend or another person inside the gym.

Week 6 - Prototyping & Designing

This week we really began to think about the primary purpose of our prototype and what we want it to be. We are keeping the features that have been designed so far, including the workout metrics, NFC tags for access and workout displays. But what we really want to create is a surface which provides a competitive edge between groups of "gym buddy's", to drive them to achieve more and to compete with others if they wish. We have come up with a system which drives this competitive side of people, showing off each others personal goals and records as well as providing them useful feedback on their workouts.

So for the user interface we have decided we will still display the users metrics such as their heart rate, calories burned, workout time, etc. These metrics will be secondary to the main purpose of GymBuddy, but still provides useful features for those gym users who do not wish to use the main features of GymBuddy. So for the main feature of the prototype, we want to create a surface that enhances the already competitive edge that is existent in the gym. GymBuddy will track the amount of reps done, the max weight for each rep and the total amounts of reps achieved. This will all be displayed on the user interface on the mirror in a side-by-side structure, so the user can see their information as well as see the other gym users information next to them. The user interface will display a list of different workouts which the user can choose from.

As well as these features, we want gym users to also ensure their form is correct during workout. This helps build muscle correctly as well as keeping them safe when performing specific exercises. We also need a way for users to navigate the workout menu so they can select different workouts. For this, we have decided to use Kinect's Skeletal Tracking technology to track the movement of the user. Using this technology we can implement gestures where users can swipe up and down with their arms to go up and down in the menu. This will also be used to imitate their movement on screen, which will be used to show their form and whether they are performing the workout correctly.

We will be researching further into Skeletal tracking and what features we can implement using this technology.

Prototype Content & UI Design

In the first image below, it shows the different types of information we will be considering to implement into the final UI design. The second picture also shows a rough sketch of what the user interface may look like, showing the list of different workouts that the user can select from.

GymBuddy Content GymBuddy UI

GymBuddy Logo Design

Now that we are settled into choosing the gym environment as a place to implement a shared media surface, we needed to design a logo which clearly shows what field our prototype is based in. As our target audience is the gym, we felt it would be necessary to include the title of the prototype and an accessory used in the gym (dumbbell, treadmill, etc,). We settled on using a stickman performing an exercise as well as blending the GymBuddy title central to the background. You can see the final logo design below.


Week 7 - Final Prototype and Preperations

This week we began to get everything prepared for the Poster Show next week. We have continued to make improvements to the user interface, including the menu and attributes that will be displayed. We have decided to go with Kinect Skeletal Tracking technology to navigate the menus and to provide visual representation of each gym user. Although, we may not be able to get this working fully with our current resources, we think it is an interesting concept that should be used for this prototype to make it unique. We also have created NFC tags to be able to receive transmissions and to identify different users. As we do not have access to any wristbands with this current technology, we will be using our phones for demonstration purposes, but the process will work consistently no matter what device is used (with NFC capabilities).

We have also recorded the video to show during the demo which demonstrates the concept of the prototype and how it will work to visually aid our prototype presentation. As well as the video, we have created our poster which includes all the information about our project, what it is and how we've done it.

GymBuddy Demo

We recorded a video demo for GymBuddy to demonstrate our prototype in a real-life situation. Although the prototype isn't fully working, this video demonstrates the concept and what it will look like once the first iteration is complete. The video includes Sachin going to the gym to workout. You see him using the GymBuddy wristband to gain access to the building as well as identifying himself with the GymBuddy user interface. He then begins to workout as the user interface recognises the weight he is lifting, as well as the amount of reps he is performing using the skeletal technology from the Kinect.

Next, Anuwar comes in to greet Sachin by the weights area. Anuwar then scans his wristband on the NFC tag to identify himself. His user information is then displayed next to Sachin's (side-by-side interface). You then see Anuwar finish his workout, with Sachin's results displayed next to his. This creates a fun, competitive side to working out and pushing yourself to beat friends or other gym users. It also provides useful information about the metrics of the workout for each user.

Click Here for GymBuddy Demo Video


GymBuddy NFC Demo

The video below demonstrates the use of NFC technology to recognise users. The NFC tag represents the wristband and the phone acts as the station NFC receivers at the entrance of the gym and by the GymBuddy mirror.

Click Here for GymBuddy NFC Demo


GymBuddy Poster

Below is the poster we designed for the Poster Show presentation. It includes all the information about our project including our first thoughts, what GymBuddy is, how it works and the process we went through from putting this idea from paper into reality.


GymBuddy Evaluation

GymBuddy started off as a small idea that was overall just another mobile application. By researching the environment, thinking of ways how people interact with each other in todays society as well as considering the technology that is available to us today, we were able to create a concept that not only pushes interaction between gym users, but also provides a useful gym tool.

GymBuddy is now an interactive surface which makes use of two different technologies, Skeletal Tracking and NFC (Near Field Communication). Users are able to log in with their personal account, which keeps track of their history, progress and goals. This information is then displayed on the GymBuddy surface which allows users to show their records to friends and other gym members. They can also gain feedback from GymBuddy through the use of Kinect, which will show their form on the surface whilst performing an exercise.

Ease of use was important to us when designing GymBuddy. We want to provide a variety of features for the gym user without them being hassled by unnecessary steps. We have reduced the amount of user input to 3 simple steps as shown below. From these 3 steps, all the user needs to do is select a workout from the menu using gestures and they are good to go!


Anon (2017) Burning Calories with Exercise: Calculating Estimated Energy Expenditure. Available from: [Accessed 10 November 2017].

Anon (2017) Skeleton Tracking (Kinect with OpenCV & OpenNI). Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

Faulkner, C. (2017) What is NFC? Everything you need to know. Available from: [Accessed 15 November 2017].

Microsoft (2017) Tracking Users with Kinect Skeletal Tracking. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2017].