About the Client
The client owns and operates a chain of health and fitness centers across the US.
To create better user experience within fitness centers, the client wanted to develop entertainment software that would run on fitness equipment and accessed through the touch screen interface of the equipment.
The client wanted following features in the software:
- Watch TV from an internet streaming station
- Listen to Internet Radio (Pre-set Stations)
- Play Games
- Browse Internet (Pre-set URL’s)
- View, Record Workout information
- Clock / Timer
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The client wanted a multi-media application to run across several types of fitness equipment from multiple manufacturers. The client selected Silicus to help evaluate platform options and engineer the solution.
The client’s initial development platform preference was Windows Media Center. WMC has inbuilt features, functionality that could reduce development time for the software. However, on closer study by our Microsoft.NET experts, the .NET framework was recommended because:
- All components, icons, UI look and feel is customizable in .NET. WMC offers fixed icon sizes and styles
- Icons in Windows Media center are small and may not scale up for the applications requirements, while icon sizes can be increased / decreased based on requirements in .NET
- Application functional specifications can be easily modified as they are not dependent on 3rd party components
Fitness equipment communicates through CSAFE protocol, a fitness industry-wide communications specification. Silicus worked with CSAFE to develop a software module with appealing graphics that records and displays work out information.
Because fitness equipments come in various screen sizes and resolutions, the software lay-out had to be planned such that the software UI renders itself accurately in different screens.
VLC open-source multimedia framework and player was used to implement music playback and TV viewing. VLC was integrated with TV Tuner cards, Touchscreen monitors to deliver a comprehensive media and entertainment application. The entire software module sat on top of the Microsoft.NET framework.
Challenges faced during application development were integrating the application with hardware (TV Tuner cards, Touch screen monitor) and remote testing, as the gym/fitness equipment wasn't present at Silicus facilities.
Silicus Microsoft.NET developers created integrations to:
- Mac Mini (Intel Processor)
- Elgato / Hauppauge Hybrid TV Tuner USB card
- ELO 1515L Touch screen Monitor (with windows/ Linux/Mac drivers)
- CSAFE / Serial Cable
- Internet Data cable with Internet access
- Analog video feed coax connected to TV Tuner Card
Interfacing with Fitness Equipment
Visual studio 2008
Mastering the CSAFE protocol and seamless integration with 3rd party hardware
Silicus Microsoft.NET developers needed to get familiar with CSAFE for communication between fitness equipment and other equipment. Silicus .NET developers mastered the protocol nuances to ensure no delay in project timelines. The software seamlessly interacted with TV Tuner cards, touch screen monitors and audio equipment.
Members get entertained while working out
Silicus delivered a software product with powerful touch screen entertainment options running on fitness equipment. The software product had a rich, appealing UI that was developed in-house by Silicus UI experts.
Members could surf the internet, listen to songs, watch TV and play games while working out.
Commercial grade Software Solution
Silicus Microsoft.NET experts delivered a compact, reliable and user friendly software that could be commercialized by the client as a new business venture, if they felt so.
Lower maintenance costs, greater control over the software
By using the Microsoft.NET platform over Windows Media Center, a best fit solution was delivered, easy to maintain and versatile for future enhancements. The client had the flexibility to change the UI look and feel as needed.