Mobii Systems (Pty) Ltd was started in February 2008 in Cape Town by a group of friends who collectively brought electronic and mechanical engineering, software development and business science backgrounds to the party, as well as a shared passion for sport. “We set out to design and manufacture a high-end locally produced GPS sport unit, producing nearly everything ourselves, including the injection-moulded casings and screens, and the accessories such as straps and covers, and packaging,” says Roderick Barret. “It’s taken us a few years to perfect, including going through a few model designs that have seen the unit’s size and weight reduced considerably, and now we’re focused on constantly improving the software so that the unit can do even more.”
The rectangular unit is 45mm wide and 63mm long, with a 15mm thickness, and weighs 53 grams, and is made from impact-proof polycarbonate plastic with a self-healing coating on the screen to protect against scratches. Using the various mounting straps, you can wear it on your arm or wrist, on a belt or waistline, or mount it on a bicycle, canoe, surfski or boat (the Motion is completely waterproof). The heart rate strap is an optional extra, since the unit is compatible with any ANT+ strap from other manufacturers.
IT DOES IT ALL
The Motion can measure speed, pace, acceleration, strides, energy, heart rate, location and course, elevation, gradient, tilt and G-force, cadence, power, laps (as well as sectors of laps, and phases of sectors), splits, and 3D speed. And it’s the combining of different measures which makes this unit so adaptable to different sporting codes – even racing car drivers are using it to plot their exact laps on a race track, using the built-in accelerometer to provide information on g-force when cornering or braking, and plotting their different laps on a map of the race course to see exactly where they are losing time by choosing a different line into the turns. It’s that accurate!
The unit comes with downloadable Motion Control Centre software, which allows you to do the set-up of your unit on your PC, analyse workouts, plot routes, share profiles and workouts with other Mobii users, add music to your playlist on the unit (no need for a separate MP3 player!), synchronise workouts with video footage (if you have a compatible camera), and more.
I found it a complicated unit to master at first, with the navigation of the menu system and initial set-up requiring a detailed user-guide. I also had to get used to the touch screen buttons, which require slightly different pressure to my touch screen phone, but I soon got the hang of it. (You can change the ‘strength’ of the buttons to suit your own touch.)
Initially, you had to do the set-up on the unit itself, but the Mobii team has worked hard on the Motion Control Centre so that it can be done on your PC, which is quicker and easier. You start by creating your user profile, then set up your activities (workouts) and the customisable data view displays for each one, which can contain up to four different items, which can in turn also include images, like a heart for heart rate or clock for time. You can change the size, colour, position, font size, rotation and alignment of each item, so you really can set it up just the way you want it. The basic running activity that comes standard with the software has the following variables on separate screens, which are easy to toggle through by using the left or right buttons: Heart rate, time, energy, stride rate and length, and total strides. You can download many other data view sets, or set up your own, as I did, with a single display containing time, average pace, distance and heart rate.
Next you can create up to 32 Action Triggers per activity, such as programming the unit to automatically pause when you stop at traffic lights, or setting it to play audio feedback when your heart rate reaches a specified level. You can even record an audio message about the route, such as “steep hill in one kilometre,” or programme it to play Chariots of Fire as you start the last kay of your route!
RUNNING WITH MOBII
I found running with the unit quite comfortable, and the quarter-second GPS recording intervals meant I had no problems getting reliable, accurate info. I could easily read the display and find exactly what I was looking for, having set it up just the way I wanted it. Admittedly, I did hit the wrong buttons a few times and had to stop in mid-run to navigate my way back, but I soon got the hang of it, and the more I ran with the Mobii, the easier it became to use it.
And once home again, I couldn’t wait to download my runs, plot my routes on the map, check where I went faster or slower, and more. I was like a kid with a new toy for Christmas! Which is really saying something, because I openly admit to being a bit of a technophobe… It’s just that the Mobii makes training so much fun!
IMPROVING ALL THE TIME
One of the real bonuses of this unit is that the Mobii team is constantly updating and improving the software, which can easily be updated with free downloads through the Motion Experience Centre. Many of these improvements are based on feedback from users. For example, Roderick says that they’ll be rolling out two big updates in October: “The one will be the ability to edit Action Triggers in the Motion Experience Centre. These can already be set up on the Motion itself, but now athletes will be able to easily programme them in the same way that they would set up their Data Views in the software. The battery life of the Motion is also in for a big boost as new power-saving features are being added.”
The Mobii Motion Package is currently selling for R2695, including all accessories except for the heart rate strap. Contact Mobii Systems to find your nearest stockist, on Tel. 021 914 6982 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.