Most people who run know the misery of going up against strong headwinds, but have you ever wondered how much that wind was affecting your performance? That's what Craig Billings wanted to find out, so he built MyWindFit, a system that can track the wind and weather and let you know how you'd be running/cycling if it would just cooperate with you.
Billings, a trained engineer with an MBA, says he immersed himself in around 30 scientific journals, learning about fitness technology, meteorology, aerodynamics, and physiology. He then hired a dev team to build an app based on new metrics he created from that research.
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Those metrics are built with data that's collected from the handful of mounts, attached to the body or bike, that make up MyWindFit. There's a weather monitor, of course, wind and GPS location tracking, a chest-mounted heart rate monitor, and two mounts - one for your arm when you're running and one for your bike when you're cycling.
All of that data is then turned into the new metrics, which Billings named MyWindFit Temp, MyWindFit Pace and an environmental difficulty score. MyWindFit Temp takes a look at the sun level, wind, temperature and humidity and puts it all together to tell you what it actually feels like. It sounds nice, but why not just check Weather.com?
Billings says weather measurements are taken 30 feet above ground in weather stations, which make them less real-world. "The thermometers are enclosed, in shade, in perfect conditions," he says. "To really know you have to measure it at that user level."
The effect that temperature has on your run or bike ride can't truly be measured by a statistic, Billings says, but since the body has a harder time cooling itself in the heat, it'll certainly feel more miserable, making the activity far more difficult.
"Many people will allow the weather to dictate when and where they train," Billings says. "Certainly no one wants to get wet, but you have a lot of people that will run or get on their cycle trainer because they want a prescribed input. They want to peddle for so many watts for so many minutes."
MyWindFit's metrics allow runners and cyclists to see how they'd do in perfect conditions, and that all starts with the MyWindFit Pace metric. Basically, it looks at the wind resistance and your own drag forces and calculates how much speed pace you've gained or loss based on the wind. For example, say you run an 8-minute mile, and there was a lot of headwind on your route. MyWindFit Pace figures out that if that wind wasn't there you would have ran a 7 minute and 46 second mile.
And finally, there's the environmental difficulty score, which takes the wind and weather measurements and pairs it with GPS metrics, like elevation and incline, to grade how difficult your run was. This also lets you measure how difficult your run was one day versus a different day so you can understand your performances better.
In the future, Billings hopes that he can integrate his metrics with third-party apps like Strava and MyRunKeeper. "I've had some dialogue with those folks, and some of their systems and databases are becoming more flexible, but you know if I'm bringing new datasets they have to have the space and be able to handle the data sets," he says.
A question equivalent to twisting in the wind. Billings doesn't have venture capital backing MyWindFit or any other big money behind him. Instead, he used the money he saved up from his career to put MyWindFit together debt-free.
He already has 500 units ready to go and ready to ship, and says his supply chain has been developed and is ready to start producing units should orders come in. It's up on on Kickstarter now for $155, and Billings says he's taking the crowdfund route to test the market, seeing if it's something fitness geeks would want, and to drum up some marketing.
From a production standpoint, the MyWindFit doesn't seem like too much of a risk. It only comes down to how much you want to know about your run or bike ride. If you're the type that gets frustrated by seeing varying results despite knowing that your fitness levels haven't dropped or improved then the MyWindFit could be exactly what you've been looking for.