Building Interactive Feedback into Your Products and Surrounding Services

How Koko Fitness Enables Four Kinds of Interactive Feedback

November 16, 2006

What information should you provide on a performance dashboard? That’s just one of the take-aways from this best practice report on how Koko Fitness provides interactive feedback to end users and stakeholders of its strength training equipment. No matter what industry you’re in, the chances are that there are end users interacting with your products and services. Do your products provide feedback to users? Should they? Learn how you can accelerate the growth of a vibrant ecosystem around your products and services by tracking and leveraging utilization data.


How do you take best advantage of e-enabling your products and services?

Many of today’s products, and the online services and resources that surround them, are becoming “smart.” They gather information and provide feedback, often in near real time.

Many physical products--from appliances to vehicles to manufacturing systems--now have electronic sensors and diagnostics that can “phone home.”

Lots of digital products--from software to mortgages to movies--have the ability to detect ownership and usage, and to publish or subscribe to updates.

In fact, we now design many products--whether these are financial instruments, training programs, automobiles, factory equipment, office machinery, software, consumer electronics, or intellectual property--to include the ability to gather and report on their usage, to alert us to potential problems, to diagnose themselves, and to update themselves periodically. We’re adding sensors and instrumentation to lots of solutions so that we can figure out how they’re doing and what services they’re performing. We enable products to provide real-time feedback to their end users.

And we’re only just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

Koko Fitness’ Smartrainer® Offers Four Types of Interactive Feedback

At our fall Visionaries[1] meeting this year, Mary Obana, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Koko Fitness, provided good examples of how to build interactive feedback into a solution--in this case, an exercise machine--and different ways to leverage that e-enablement to provide value to customers and stakeholders. As you read these examples, think about ways the same principles might apply to your firm’s products and services.

The Koko Smartrainer® is an “all-in-one” strength training system used in fitness clubs and in physical therapy clinics (see Illustration 1). Mary described at least four different ways in which the various stakeholders who use the Koko Fitness Smartrainer are able to benefit from real-time, interactive feedback:

  • End users can get real-time feedback on how they are doing as they exercise (use the product).
  • End users can see the record of how well they have been doing through online feedback and dashboards.
  • Customers (fitness club managers and personal trainers) can help end users achieve their outcomes and optimize and maximize utilization through interactive reporting.
  • The supplier (Koko Fitness) can proactively optimize and maintain solutions in the field by monitoring usage and performing preventative maintenance. They can also use the utilization data to up-sell and cross-sell.

Illustration 1. Koko Fitness Smartrainer is a one-stop exercise machine for strength training. Customer’s profiles and workout programs are stored on their Koko Keys. The Koko Key™ is inserted in the exercise machine to personalize and monitor each strength training session. Users back up their Koko Keys up by inserting them into a SmartStation at the Fitness Club, which also captures their session results and provides updates to their exercise programs. (Please download the PDF to see the illustration.)

You may be interested to note that these four types of feedback are provided despite the fact that the exercise machines aren’t networked. Today, Koko Smartrainers are stand-alone devices. (That’s because many of today’s fitness clubs are low-tech environments, without the benefit of broadband WiFi Internet connections.) So don’t assume your products have to be online all the time in order to provide useful, actionable feedback to customers. Koko does provide a Web-connected SmartStation to each fitness center (which can be online all the time or used in dial-up mode for batch transmissions and updates). Customers upload the data from each session using their Koko Keys--a Koko-provided USB “thumb drive.”

Real-Time Interactive Feedback from the Product

As end users engage in their personalized strength training routines at the gym, the Smartrainer provides real-time feedback for each activity as well as a summary at the end of each exercise and each routine. The interactive feedback is truly real time. You see every movement you’re making (pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering) contrasted against the “ideal” pace for that movement. (See Illustration 2.)

llustration 2. The exerciser gets real-time feedback on the screen as he is doing each set of exercises. The goal is to keep your pace aligned with the blue square. When you’re aligned, you see a green bar; as you move out of synch, the bar changes color.
(Please download the PDF to see the illustration.)

At the end of each routine, you also get a summary of how you did against the ideal, how many calories you burned, and how many Koko Points you earned...


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