• U.S Air Force Academy cadets work with industry participants during a CyberWorx design project.
     U.S Air Force Academy cadets work with industry participants during a CyberWorx design project.
  • Air Force and industry participants collaborate during a CyberWorx design sprint.
     Air Force and industry participants collaborate during a CyberWorx design sprint.

Weaving Technology Into Fitness

June 27, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

IoT could help maintain healthy record keeping.


The U.S. Air Force is exploring innovative ways to put technology to work and address both warfighter fitness maintenance issues and access to troop fitness readiness data. With the help of AF CyberWorx, a public-private design center, innovators will tackle one of two challenges during a daylong hackathon.

Although usually associated with cybersecurity, this hackathon follows the more general definition of the term: to create usable software. Teams are invited to take part in one of two challenges during the July 11-13 event. The first is to design a wearable fitness application, which is the first step toward creating a “smart” physical training program. The second is to develop an autonomous query tool to help Air Force users and leadership overcome limited access to data by making fitness information available and tailorable through an open application programming interface.

“We’re using this event to fast-track technological innovation to improve the warfighter experience with maintaining and tracking physical fitness and readiness,” says Lt. Col. Cynthia Brothers, USAF, director of strategic engagement, AF CyberWorx.

In conjunction with the hackathon, the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization is offering a $1,000 participation incentive for each team. In addition, and at its sole discretion, the center is authorized to select two hackathon teams to receive a total maximum collaboration incentive of $20,000.

According to Ryan Winstead, partnership manager, CyberWorx, the goal of the wearable device challenge is to help unit fitness program managers (UFPMs) monitor and coach airmen as well as alert key health partners of health issues. “This technology should offer the opportunity for personalized guidance to members who lack motivation or have health concerns,” Winstead explains.

The solution also should feature a database of gathered fitness information. This capability would enable service members to create their own fitness profile and determine goals they want to attain in a specific time frame. It should also allow their data to be monitored in real time by UFPMs so the managers can keep users motivated as well as understand how the whole unit is measuring up to fitness requirements.

The call for the autonomous query tool came from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower, Personnel and Services, which identified the capability as an immediate need. One goal of the second challenge is to develop a tool for the various information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data and use the information that has been exchanged to answer the query, Winstead explains.

Innovators interested in participating in the hackathon can apply as a team or individuals until June 29. Eligible teams and individuals will be interviewed, and selected participants will be notified by July 3. Approximately eight teams are expected to take part in the hackathon.

The hackathon will begin with a kick-off dinner and introduction on July 11. Participants will then have two days to develop and present a prototype that meets the needs of one of the design challenges. Each team will present its solution to Air Force stakeholders; the solutions will be evaluated based on innovation, quality and technical feasibility, use of data and presentation. Air Force users will be present to provide direct feedback to teams as they work through iterations of their prototype solutions.

The hackathon is attracting interest from people with a variety of different backgrounds, including developers, designers, coders, project managers and business developers, Winstead says.

Previous design sprints AF CyberWorx conducted sparked the interest for this hackathon. These sprints delved into integrating the Internet of Things and smart technologies into the day-to-day life of airmen and Air Force cadets. Participants homed in on making smarter technologies a part of the physical training and testing program for airmen. 

AF CyberWorx is the Air Force’s cyber design and innovation center. It educates airmen and cadets while partnering with industry to solve cyber problems the United States faces. Information about AF CyberWorx is available online.

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