Episode 29 – App Enabled Accessories

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast we explore the myriad of App Enabled Accessories that take our mobile devices to the next level. Everything from video based accessories to wireless health trackers is explored in the PE Context. We also focus on some next level technologies which give us a glimpse into the future including the amazing Myo Armband and the 94Fifty Wireless Basketball.

Resources shared in the episode include

1. GoPro Hero 4 & AR Drone 2.0

2. Fitbit Charge HR , Muse , Polar H7 & Tinke’

3. Myo Armband, 94 Fifty Smart Basketball & Zepp Golf

Press Play below to listen or visit the podcast here


00:28 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 29 of the PE Geek Podcast. And as always, thank you for taking the time out of your day, or night, or afternoon to actually tune in to today’s episode. Now, we’re gonna be exploring the different ways that you can use your mobile devices, iPads, tablets, and connect them to app-enabled accessories that basically grow the function of your device to a completely different level. And over the course of the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in devices that connect with your devices to sort of add function to it. And it includes everything from heart rate monitors, to brain scanning headbands, right up to GoPros, and everything in between. And sort of, the implications for physical education are quite massive, and I know that there’s a growing amount of PE teachers globally who are investing in these sort of technologies to do some really exciting things. So, I’m looking forward to sharing the ones that I’ve used, and the ones that I know people are having great success with.

01:31 JR: Now, if you have not had the chance to go and leave a review for the podcast, that would be something that I would truly appreciate. And everyone who does it, who then takes a screenshot of the review and sends it to [email protected], is going to be rewarded with a bonus prize. And I definitely look forward to seeing a few more reviews. And the reason that I’m getting you to do this, is that it actually increases the amount of people who end up seeing the podcast. Now I don’t necessarily mean that you have to leave a five star review, I just want you to leave an honest review about what you like about the show, so that other people can find it. And as I said, if you take a screenshot and send it to [email protected] then I have a special gift for you, and I definitely look forward to passing those on to people. Alright, let’s dive into to today’s content.

02:29 JR: Now, one of the first types of devices and attachments that I’m interested in exploring is those that actually enable some sort of video function. Now, it’s no secret that video is an enormous part in all sorts of classrooms. And it is really exciting to see that there’s a lot of developments taking place in this area, and you can look no further than what has happened with the GoPro. Now, GoPro has basically been an enormous success in the sort of wearable video camera space. And if you’ve ever seen them before, they’re incredibly portable, incredibly versatile, and waterproof and so on. And it basically means that people can wear these tiny cameras during physical activity, or sort of adventure activities, and everything else. And it gives you a unique in-person perspective of whatever it is that person’s actually doing.

03:27 JR: So, this has some really good application in phys ed classrooms. And I’m starting to see more and more teachers, including myself, who are actually experimenting with GoPros, and having students wear them during actual game play. And being able to get that sort of student perspective on things such as tactics, and decisions, and so on. And the great thing about it is not only does the video get recorded to the device, and that’s obviously part of the basic feature set, but in some of the WiFi-based versions, such as the GoPro Heroes, you can actually stream the footage live as it’s being recorded to the accompanying iPhone and iPad Android apps. And what that means is that a student can be participating in a game, let’s say a game of volleyball, and while that’s actually occurring. The video footage could be being live-streamed to an iPad.

04:22 JR: And then, you’ve got that unique perspective of game play that is just on a whole different level to anything we’ve ever seen before. So, GoPros have that unique ability to be able to be connected by an app and sort of take it to that whole next level. So I certainly recommend going and checking it out. Now, if you’re interested in seeing the model that I currently have, then head along to thepegeek.com/gopro and it’ll take you to the Amazon store where you can download it, and make a purchase, I should say. Now on the same video token, we actually have an amazing opportunity when you start looking at drone technology. And there’s been a number of PE teachers who are sort of dabbling in this space, looking at how drones could actually work to support teaching and so on.

05:17 JR: And the drone that I’ve had experimentation with, at one of the Sydney PE Geek workshops, was the AR.Drone 2.0. And that particular drone is recommended by Apple, you can actually purchase it from the Apple website. It basically flies automatically. I mean, you can set some functions up to enable it to fly with limited sort of input from the user. And if you can imagine a drone, which is actually, deliberately has been built for more of a recreational pursuit, not really designed for phys ed. But, if you can imagine a drone flying over the top of a game, or an activity, or a sports day, or anything along those lines, and having the drone using its high-definition camera, filming things from sort of top-down perspective, then you can sort of see what sort of opportunities might exist here.

06:11 JR: So, with the AR.Drone 2.0 and I mean, there are other drones of sort of varying prices and so forth, some that record directly to like an SD camera, SD sort of storage on the device itself, meaning that you don’t actually see the footage until you get the drone back to the ground. But the exciting thing about the AR.Drone is that the actual video footage is live streamed to any of your mobile devices, meaning that you actually can see what it is that you’re recording, meaning that your recording can be even better. And, if you think about that GoPro example that we mentioned earlier, you can have a top-down view of students participating in a game, and you can imagine how powerful that would be to showcase any sort of tactical decisions, any of those sort of teaching moments that might arise from being able to show that sort of top-down perspective, that eye in the sky perspective.

07:09 JR: Now, the AR.Drone is certainly a hot item and is only going to continue to become more prevalent in education circles and as the technology becomes even more easier to access. So, go ahead and check out thepegeek.com/drone and have a look at the model that I’ve played with and I know a number of other teachers have used. And, yeah, you might be able to find some really powerful uses for it. Now, on the areas that has recently seen an enormous increase in the amount of developments as well as video is the sort of personal health tracking space and it’s no secret that Fitbit have been sort of leading in many ways, this sort of progression with a lot of the innovation and then you see other companies follow along with devices to sort of match. And I have recently got my hands on a Fitbit Charge HR. And for those of you that aren’t familiar with the Fitbit Charge HR, it is a wireless activity tracker that you wear on your wrist, but it also includes 24/7 heart rate tracking.

08:17 JR: And this is sort of a first for that sort of wearable space in that it actually continuously tracks your heart rate throughout the course of the day. It’s also connected to your mobile device, meaning that any sort of activity that you produce or complete throughout the course of the day is sent to and stored on your mobile device, meaning that at a glance you can sort of look back and you can actually see what it is that you’ve actually done throughout the course of today. Now, the first time I got this device, the very first thing I wanted to do was wear it to bed like you do for a Fitbit device, and not only does it track your sleep cycle and your sleep patterns and give you all of that sort of really interesting data that the previous Fitbit versions have done, but because it does 24/7 heart rate tracking you can very easily look back throughout your sleep for that particular night and see how your heart rate has actually changed.

09:20 JR: And that is amazing because it was the very first time that I’ve ever actually been able to look at my true resting heart rate. Obviously, when you wake up, if you take it, your heart rate manually, there’s a pretty good indication that that is close to your resting heart rate. But, this was the very first time that I could see how the heart rate cycled throughout the course of the night in a graph. And I mean, that was amazing. And just the fact that you can wear it, look back, and sort of not only see the steps that you’ve done and the sort of total distance that you’ve completed but be able to get a bit of an idea and a mindset of how your heart is active throughout the course of the day and how certain things that you do sort of influence that. And this is really big for schools and just the ability to be able to track heart rate live via a Fitbit that is worn on the wrist sort of lays down that path of this being something that is going to be very easy to integrate into schools. And this sort of accuracy that comes with this Fitbit Charge HR is really good.

10:29 JR: I mean, they mention that this sort of like plus 102 beats per minute from something that’s worn on the chest but the exciting thing about a wrist worn heart rate monitor is that it’s less invasive and less setup time and less sort of needing to get people to get changed so that they can put a heart rate monitor on in a traditional sense. It also makes it more appropriate to use it with younger kids because those chest devices are sometimes, that sort of really intrusive nature that makes them a little bit less appropriate for people of younger ages. So, it has massive implications for people and students just being able to track their heart rate across the course of an entire day. And as we sort of venture into seeing it in schools, we’re gonna be looking at some exciting stuff that gets done. And, for me, it’s something that can definitely be used to help explore physiological concepts with senior physical education students. And I do have a student who has a Fitbit Charge HR who’s using it 24/7 and seeing the sort of stuff that we’re learning and talking about.

11:37 JR: And it’s exciting definitely when it comes to looking at how people could track their heart rate throughout their entire session, that entire phys ed session and see how it was responding to the various activities that a teacher sort of provides. Now, on that same vein of sort of tracking health-related type metrics, there is a new device that I have recently purchased which I have been using and just finding fascinating. And it came from a recommendation from Pat Flynn and his particular podcast, and it is a Muse headband. Now, the Muse headband is unique in that you wear it on your head like you can imagine a headband does. But what it does, it actually tracks your brain, sort of activity and the whole idea of it is that you connect it to your mobile device and you start a three or five-minute meditation session and it takes you through the actual activity but the same time gives you bio feedback based on your brain’s actual activity.

12:47 JR: Now, as you are completing the actual exercises that the app takes you through, it gives you feedback on how active your brain is or how calm your brain is, and it does that through audible cues that you hear through your actual headphones. And the whole point of it is to use bio feedback to improve your actual ability to direct attention to one thing and one thing only. And the premise behind this is that you actually can train to become more efficient, effective, and more focused as meditation has always been directly responsible for. However, obviously it’s difficult to know when you’re meditating without any sort of data whether you’re doing it right. And the Muse leads you down the path of using bio feedback to give you those particular data, to decide whether you are doing it right. So go and check it out. It’s really exciting. I like the fact of using it in our senior physical education classes. When we start looking at sport psychology and in that particular concept, we start to explore how people use things like meditation for improved performance.

14:06 JR: And this would sort of give kids an idea of how exactly you go about doing this effectively and what that means for [14:13] ____ athletes and so on. But, I also like the concept of using this with younger students and sort of rotating it through a group and while you’re using something like the various meditation-based apps that exist like Headspace and all the stuff that we spoke about in Episode 28, you would be able to actually track what a student is doing by using the Muse. Now, it’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitors. Now, the reason I an actually such a big fan of them is that heart rate monitors are something that has always caused a little bit of controversy and a little bit of trouble in schools who are interested in using them. And I often ask PE teachers during the PE Geek workshops, “Who has heart rate monitors?” and most of the people put their hands up, and then I say, “Who has issues?” and most people put their hands up to that.

15:12 JR: And the reason they have issues is that they are using traditional heart rate monitors which use radio frequencies to communicate to a watch. But the problem is when you get a lot of people using them, there’s lots of cross talk, and people can’t pick up the signals, and those sorts of things. And that’s why the Polar H7 and this whole breed of new heart rate monitors is really exciting because they use bluetooth to do the communication and they’re actually more affordable because they don’t need a watch just for the purpose of receiving the actual bluetooth, I mean, the heart rate signal. And in this particular instance, the Polar H7 is the perfect fit that I recommend for schools who have heart rate monitors or looking to buy them because they can very easily connect to any mobile device automatically via bluetooth, which means wirelessly you can see your heart rate data on a mobile device. And this gives enormous potential in the PE context, in sport context, in the concept of trying to teach students physiological concepts like I do. Then the Polar H7 is certainly what I recommend.

16:20 JR: And it sort of goes to the next level when you use something like the Polar Team app which is on the iPad and you’ve got the ability to connect up to 40 of the Polar H7 heart rate monitors to one iPad. Now, if you can image an entire class fitted with Polar H7s, now the difference is the Polar H7 has to be worn on the chest. So, in terms of accuracy, it’s right there, in terms of lab level accuracy that you need. And the fact is that you could have 40, your entire class, connected to an iPad and be able to see every kid’s name and their heart rate data live as it happens. And this is enormous for me, and if you wanna see it in action, you can go to bigscreenpe.com and I’ve got a couple of videos showing my students doing things like the pacer test and the beep test while wearing these heart rate monitors and having their heart rate data projected live to the projector. And at the same time, I’ve recently used it for students to, while participating in a game, have an awareness of how their heart rate changes with varying intensities.

17:30 JR: And the fact that this all happens automatically and I can see at a glance every student and I can make teachable moments about it, and at the very end of the activity, it live graphs every student’s performance is amazing and it’s sort of a testament to the development that is taking place in this space. So, yeah, the Polar H7 is definitely well worth checking out. Now, on another token, if you’re interested in tracking physiological metrics like heart rate and so forth, then you probably wanna check out the Tinke. And the Tinke is this brand new device from Zensorium and I’m probably butchering how you say the actual device’s name. But if you head to the thepegeek.com/tinke, which is T-I-N-K-E, it will redirect you to their web page where you can have a go trying to say the name of the device probably better than I do. But the cool thing about it is that it connects to the bottom of your Android device or the bottom of your iPhone and it will track not just heart rate like a lot of devices do these days.

18:40 JR: But it will do your blood oxygen saturation, so it will give you a percentage indicator showing you the amount of oxygen that’s present in the blood and so on, and it’ll give you your heart rate variability and how it changes and that’s a direct correlation to stress levels. But the exciting thing for me is it’ll actually give you your respiratory rate. And the way in which you do it is, as I said, you connect it to the bottom of your device and then you put your finger over the top of the sensor and all of that sort of metrics gets presented to you in graphed and you can keep it over time. So definitely go and check that out. If you’re teaching any senior phys ed concepts then there’s obvious reason behind why you would use something along those lines. Now, it’s really exciting for me because I can see that when things like the Apple iWatch progress or the Apple Watch, I shouldn’t say iWatch, we’re gonna see more of these sort of features become part of that particular make up. And we’re only gonna get more cost effective in this area and we’re gonna see more of the sort of tracking devices appear that give us an entire picture of our overall health.

19:53 JR: Now, as we progress in this space there’s an enormous amount of developments that are coming out that are not really focused on health and so on but really focused on other areas, in terms of giving us feedback while we do play sport, for example, or allow us to actually control devices using our gestures. Now, the very first thing that blew me away when I discovered it and I had to instantly purchase it was a Myo armband and you can go to thepegeek.com/myo for the Myo armband and it’ll take you to the website where you can get more information. And it began life as a Kickstarter project. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Kickstarter, people go there when they have sort of entry level prototypes of particular exciting technologies. And they basically get people to contribute to them and purchase them before they’re actually released to the public, and those funds actually get used to bring it to life. And I happened to buy mine 18 months ago and I completely forgot about it until I got an email from Myo Lab saying that it was being shipped and all of a sudden it appeared on my doorstep late December.

21:10 JR: And Myo is an exciting piece of technology that gives us a glimpse of the future in many ways. And basically, you wear it on your arm and you wear it a little bit higher up towards your elbow and you wear it on either arm, depending on whichever you wanna make control of. And it uses and reads the electrical activity of your muscles when you perform certain hand gestures to actually interact with your computer and control certain aspects. So, for example, the reason behind my purchase of it was that I could use it to wirelessly control my computer with various hand gestures so that I could control things such as PowerPoint presentations and Prezi presentations and Google slides and so on without actually having to touch my computer. And sure, I like being able to use a clicker and being able to navigate like that but this means that you didn’t have to hold or do anything but simply do a series of gestures with your hands. And I’m gonna be definitely using this in the National PE Institute keynote that I’m doing later in July.

22:17 JR: So if you’re coming along to that you’re gonna be seeing the Myo Armband being used to help me wirelessly control my projector and computer and presentation and so on. And that’s just the starting point. I mean, we spoke about the AR.Drone, where you can use the wireless arm band to actually control the drone. You can use it to control your computer and do things such as browse the internet and play games and turn your music on or off wirelessly with different gestures, so pretty amazing stuff. And, as I said, if you wanna see it then head to the thepegeek.com/myo, M-Y-O, and you can see it in action. Now, late last year… Oh sorry, early last year, I also purchased the 94Fifty and the 94Fifty is a basketball or better yet, a smart basketball that works for iPhone and Android and enables you to improve your shooting and ball handling skills. And the way it does it is that it actually has an internal accelerometer and bluetooth and the basketball gives you data about what’s exactly happening inside of the basketball, that sounds pretty amazing.

23:28 JR: But, for example, as you open the app up, it takes you through a series of skill-based sort of drills and activities and the sensors inside the basketball communicate with the app to give you information about what it is that you’re actually doing. And, for example, you can track the amount of bounces, the amount of dribbles that you’re doing across a period of time. You can have a look at the actual velocity of the ball as it spins and it coaches you to try and improve the revolutions or optimise them. It’ll give you an idea of the arc of your actual shot and a whole host of other features in terms of speed of passes and lots of other things that you can use to actually realistically improve your basketball performance. Now, if you’re interested in seeing that and checking out the videos of it in action then head to thepegeek.com/94fifty, which is F-I-F-T-Y, and it’ll redirect you to the place where you can learn more about it. But, yeah really exciting stuff.

24:33 JR: There’s obviously a whole host of developments in this space of making sports equipment smarter so that you know you can use this data to improve performance. And this sort of extends into the next tool which is a Zepp golf or a Zepp baseball. And basically the Zepp is a little wireless accelerometer that goes on the end of your golf glove or on the end of your baseball bat and you can use it to actually get real metrics about your performance. Now, I was really fortunate to get my hands on a Zepp from the Polar Shop in Australia, and the Zepp is, as it sounds, something very tiny that you wear on your wrist, it’s like a little clip while you’re playing golf, and you just go about playing golf and it tracks your 3D swing, the club speed, the swing plane, so it actually shows you on a replay of your swing what your swing looked like. And it gives you an idea of the tempo of your swing and back swing position and hip swing and so on. And you can use it to basically grade and track how your swing improves.

25:41 JR: Now, as I mentioned, this is not just something that you can do with golf but it’s also applicable in tennis. And the same device with a different attachment, the tennis attachment, which goes on the end of the tennis racket, gives you that same metrics and it actually enables you to see how many forehands and backhands that you actually produce and all those other variables that you can use to improve performance. And this sort of stuff is mind blowing. I mean, it really is. So one device, you basically connect it to whatever it is that you’re looking to improve and it’ll give you some real data that you can improve that by. And the whole exciting thing about it is that it connects the social elements so that as you’re training and improving in whatever your sport is that you’re choosing to focus on you’re actually able to share that and showcase that with a wider community. So really exciting developments happening in the everyday life space as well as the sports space and health and making our mobile devices so much more than just the ability to call.

26:49 JR: So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed Episode 29 of the PE Geek Podcast, focusing on all of the app enabled accessories that are starting to appear in our world. And they’re becoming so user-friendly and easy to integrate that it’s really exciting for the average person. Not just people who are interested, like myself, in the latest and greatest little gadgets but everyone. And this includes people like my mom. My mom has recently picked up a Fitbit herself and is seeing the benefits of being aware of her physical activity and where that leads for health of the general population is enormous. So if you wanna grab a hold of all of the notes and resources and things shared throughout this episode, then head over to the thepegeek.com/29. And you’ll be able to download also a full episode transcript.

27:42 JR: Now, on the next episode of the PE Geek Podcast, we’re actually completing our first ever phys ed interview with a teacher who you may know, who’s doing some really exciting things in the physical education and technology space. And she’s gonna be dropping all sorts of knowledge bombs related to things that she uses and stuff that she does and some of the exciting applications and so on that she uses. So really interested in getting that episode to you. Now in the meantime, if you have any questions then you can hit me up at [email protected]. And if you wanna win that bonus prize then you know what you need to do. Leave a review, take a screen shot, and send it over to me and I have a prize for everyone who does that. And as I mentioned at the start of the show, these reviews, I don’t care if they are one star. A review is really important and they help other people discover the podcast. Alright. See you next time. Bye.



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