Called the Tao, this handheld device looks similar to a computer mouse and is close in size. Along with an accompanying app (available for iOS and Android), the Tao coaches you through 50 exercises related to isometrics — the science of applying pressure — which is the basis of many popular workouts such as Pilates and plank exercising, and adds a gaming element. By holding the device portion (specifically called the Tao WellShell) in your hands and pushing hard, its internal pressure sensor works your muscles. It can also be used between your knees. While pressing hard on each side, the Bluetooth-connected app walks you through the exercise, audibly telling you to push more or less and how long to hold the pressure. Typically each rep is 20 seconds long with six-second rest periods.
By holding the device portion called the Tao WellShell in your hands and pushing hard, the device’s internal pressure sensor works your muscles.For example, to work out your abdominals, users push the Tao WellShell with both hands against the top of your thigh. The Tao app will then log the exercise and calories burned. It blends in a gaming factor, too – you can either follow an exercise graph or control a downhill skier to make the experience more fun. You can also compete against friends using the Tao device.
Although Tao hasn’t announced its price point, Northrup said it will likely cost between $200 – $300, with a planned launch in fall 2014.
“Tao is intended to be an addition to an already existing fitness ecosystem, but we may explore more therapeutic uses for those who are recovering from surgery or strokes,” Northrup said. “We don’t claim any medical or therapeutic benefits, but we are open to working with partners who might be able to expand its offerings.”