Forget the Apple iTV - there might be an Apple-branded treadmill in the works. At least that's the thrust of a patent the company applied for, which involves a "sports equipment apparatus" with smart components to let it interface with an iPod or iPhone.
The patent application, made public yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) specifies the "circuits, method and apparatus" that allow sports equipment to write data to a media player. It cites cardio equipment specifically, and provides diagrams of how the interface would work with a treadmill.
Does this mean Apple is going to surprise everyone with a line of sports equipment? Obviously, that's highly unlikely - the company is probably simply trying to get ahead of someone else patenting similar technology that could be used with its iOS devices.
The media-friendly treadmill sounds like a gym rat's dream, though. First of all, it would allow you to play media from your iPhone or iPod through a dock via the device's 30-pin connector. So instead of settling for your gym's 20-channel TV feed, you could watch movies you've downloaded.
Besides that, the patent describes software built into the treadmill that would read your user profile and adjust its settings accordingly. It would also be able to write workout data to your device, which you could then upload to the web, share with friends and even compete with users in other locations - head-to-head, in real time.
With the direct interface with cardio equipment and real-time competition, the concept is a step or two beyond what apps like Nike+ and RunTracker do now.
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