Apple Watch DanceSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple's Julz Arney has given an interview about the challenges of creating a dance algorithm for Apple Watch.
  • She was speaking to ht Tech.
  • in watchOS 7, Apple Watch can track dance workouts for four different styles.

Apple's Julz Arney has told ht Tech about the challenges of creating an algorithm to track dance workouts in watchOS 7.

In a new report the outlet highlighted one of the biggest new features in workout tracking for watchOS 7, dance workouts:

When Apple said at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that it can tell you how many calories you spent while dancing, it piqued our interest. Traditional workouts are repetitive, something algorithms excel at tracking. Compared to that, a dance is as erratic as a Twitter trend.

Apple's Julz Arney from Apple's Fitness Technologies Team said:

"The Workout app on Apple Watch is one of the most used apps, and each of the 20 top-level workout types uses a smartly-tuned algorithm that understands the workout you are doing to give you the most accurate metrics for each one"

"Creating an algorithm to give accurate calorie credit for dance was a real challenge for a few reasons. Movements in dance aren't always repetitive or predictable like they are in walking and running, so what the sensors can detect strictly from the wrist is not necessarily the whole story," she added. For dance, the watch needs to detect how your "whole body is moving".

Apple uses both heart rate and motion data to detect your work rate when dancing and had to study dances using just the arms, just the legs, and the entire body separately. Turns out, Apple had a very interesting way of measuring exertion:

To find out exactly how hard you work when you dance, Apple put mobile metabolic carts on dancers back. These track your body's metabolism while you're performing an activity. They're often used by athletes and even for health purposes at times, to detect breathing response etc.

This allowed the company to measure true calorie expenditure in a dance workout. To allow the research team to understand how movement at the wrist related to movement at the hip, the dancers had a phone attached to their hip. Additionally, the dancers wore a watch on their wrist and a heart rate monitor chest strap.

Apple announced watchOS 7 as part of its WWDC keynote on June 22. You can read the full report here.