"That's the head of Adidas digital sports," says Chad Darbyshire, the marketing director of Chaotic Moon, as he shows us around his Austin office. He points at a casually dressed man examining the rows of disemboweled drones that line the workbenches of the digital technology who launched FitCoin at SXSW – the fitness app that turns your workouts into cash.
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You've probably heard about Chaotic Moon before. From hacking Parrot drones to carry Tasers, or carrying out party string bombing sorties; to creating 30ft inflatable interactive palm trees, the company's M.O. is the crazy edge of tech – and SXSW is its playground.
It would be easy to dismiss FitCoin as another publicity stunt, and many have. But when you chat to the team involved, it's clear it actually represents something much bigger.
The idea is simple: The app syncs with a heart rate sensing wearable to track the effort of your workout. When you workout, the app uses the power of your smartphone to mine Bitcoin – the harder you work, the more you mine and the more you make.
The app is nothing more than another digital proof of concept for the company, just like the silly string drone or the big inflatable tree – but Eric Schneider - Chaotic Moon's hardware creative technologist has bigger ideas.
"Right now it's running on Bitcoin, but we're going to have our own FitCoin cryptocurrency, just like there's Darkcoin and Litecoin, there's lots of different ones out there. Our own system that uses human action to generate it," Schneider said.
We're going to have our own Fitcoin cryptocurrency. Our own system that uses human action to generate it
Indeed, the reason that Adidas' bigwigs (and Nike's before them) have descended on Chaotic Moon's offices is because, beyond the buzzwords and zeitgeisty bullshit, FitCoin could become a bigger, better and more useful NikeFuel.
While that was a rather rudimentary 'currency' for Nike's ecosystem, FitCoin has far more opportunities.
"There's a guy from Adidas here now and Nike came to see it on Saturday so there's a bunch of interest, but outside of the fitness world, there's other applications, such as for insurance," Schneider continued.
"If you do loads of cardio, we can make it so you get more rewards for doing strength training, for example. And marathons, if everyone's using FitCoin you can make money for charity," Schneider continued.
The service is already compatible with any wearable that uses a heart rate tracker and an open API – which ironically, Apple is helping to promote via the requirements for HealthKit.
"We wanted to use the Atlas band," Schneider told us. "Atlas band are here in Austin at SXSW. We wanted to get hold of one but it's not ready yet But the interesting thing is there's a load more data points. That's what's going to drive this; the more data that's captured, there more accurate it will be.
"There's a lot of room for growth so we're really excited."
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