Everything Will Be Social–And That Includes Sweating
The prevailing opinion among tech entrepreneurs seems to be that everything, online and off, would be improved by a social component. For some sectors, what it means to “get social” is quite obvious: Yelp is made more interesting by learning what restaurants your friends recommend; millions of people love the shared experience of social games like FarmVille; Quora’s encyclopedia of knowledge is more valuable because it’s backed up by the social reputation of users’ real names.
But motivating people to be healthy and athletic is one of the most interesting and novel extensions of the digital social identity I’ve seen. Specifically, new features offered by the mobile GPS-tracking app RunKeeper, as well as its competitor Nike+, allow users to tell their Facebook friends when they are starting a run. If users comment on that status post, the encouragement is automatically sent from Facebook to the app and spoken out over the headphones of the runner.
RunKeeper, which makes both iPhone and Android apps, even allows users to automatically transmit their location to a live online map they can share with friends. (You’re right, that’s exactly like inviting people to stalk you.)
On a related note, BoomTown’s Kara Swisher recently wrote about how Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley set up his phone to automatically do a check-in at every mile marker as he ran the New York Marathon.
Since I think this idea of monitoring oneself and sharing personal data with the larger community is particularly interesting, I wanted to note that RunKeeper (actually its parent company, FitnessKeeper) announced today it had raised $1.11 million in funding led by new investor O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and including LaunchCapital and the company’s existing angel investors. Boston-based FitnessKeeper is still quite small, with nine people and $1.51 million total raised.
Nike+ screenshot via AppJudgment.