The Fitcoin app in action (Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech).
AUSTIN, Texas — If the 21st-century tabloid celebrity has taught us anything, it’s that having a hot body can pay off. Now, a tech studio has interpreted that modern-day lesson quite literally, in the form of an app that rewards you with Bitcoin, based on how hard you work on the treadmill.
The technology, cleverly named Fitcoin, is the creation of Chaotic Moon Studios, an Austin-based design company that’s known for pulling stunts during the city’s annual South by Southwest festival. Last year, for instance, designers at the lab programmed a drone to shock one of their interns with a stun gun.
It works like this: After creating an account for your Bitcoin repository, you download the iOS Fitcoin app, enter in your basic information, and sync it to your fitness tracker. Currently, Fitcoin only works with fitness trackers that both measure heart rate and offer public access to their software. These requirements reduce your tracker choices down to just three wearables: the Mio heart-rate monitor, the much anticipated Jawbone UP3, and a new Austin-based fitness tracker called Atlas.
When you sync your band to the Fitcoin app and start your workout, it’ll automatically begin recording the length of your activity and the level of your heart rate. The algorithm within the app then triangulates those stats to determine how much energy you’re expending, and ultimately, how much that’s worth in Bitcoin.
“It’s a really interesting platform play application and service layer,” Ali Madad, the Chaotic Moon Studios creative director, said during a demonstration. “[It’s] accessible. It’s not about cypherpunks or overthrowing the government. It’s something that you would use every day.”
How much is your average workout worth in Bitcoin? During a demo at the Chaotic Moon offices on Saturday afternoon, designer Grant Nicol hopped on a treadmill and worked his heart rate up to an even 115 beats per minute. He wore a Mio band on his wrist, and one of Chaotic Moon’s decidedly “Health Goth” Fitcoin T-shirts.
After spending about three minutes and 40 seconds running, Madad directed us to the app — displayed on Nicol’s iPhone — to see how much he’d made. In three minutes and 40 seconds, he’d amassed about 5 cents.
Chaotic Moon’s Grant Nicol, demonstrating the Fitcoin app at the Chaotic Moon studios. (Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech).
Those measly 5 cents, of course, come from a stash of Bitcoin that Chaotic Moon Studios bought to test the Fitcoin app internally. The studio’s team had just three months to develop the concept — partially inspired by an episode of Black Mirror — and it’s still only being tested by members of the team.
Ultimately, Chad Derbyshire, director of marketing at Chaotic Moon Studios, hopes that Fitcoin will be used to form its own breed of cryptocurrency — a type of online money that has allowed for such offshoots as Coinye (formerly known as Coinye West) and Dogecoin. He imagines that individual companies could award dedicated athletes with their own digital money, based on their fitness achievements.
“My insurance is deducted from my bank account every month, same amount of money,” he told Yahoo Tech. “But if I have a certain level of activity, maybe it’s redefined. What if it goes down?”
Specifically, Derbyshire imagines that this technology would be particularly attractive to one client of the studio: Adidas. He imagines that the fitness apparel company could offer special access to merchandise that you could only purchase with the cryptocurrency you earn using the Fitcoin app.
“Adidas can say: These are proprietary shoes that only Bitcoin users, or only Fitcoin users, or only AdidasCoin users can get based on this currency.”
So, beware: Kanye West could very well make you sweat for his next line of limited-edition sneakers.