If you’ve ever needed an incentive to get fit, a new app launched in Britain could give you the boost you need. The new fitness app for Apple devices, Sweatcoin, rewards steps people have taken with digital currency, which can be used to buy goods and services.
The British-made app by co-founders Oleg Fomenko, Anton Derlyatka, Danil Perushev and Egor Khmelev, is the latest initiative in a growing fitness economy that features monitoring devices and apps, which reward peoples’ fitness activity with vouchers and discounts.
Their aim is to fix an evolutionary bug called “Present Bias,” which is the human tendency to underestimate things which happen in the future and disproportionately focuses our attention solely on what gives us pleasure right now.
Currently only available on iPad and iPhone in the UK, for every 1,000 steps a user will receive one sweatcoin (SWC) with rewards ranging in value on the Sweatcoin shop. For example, 20 sweatcoins will get you a pair of Apple headphones, 50 sweatcoins will get you a Wii console and a Wii bundle kit, and 1,300 sweatcoins will get you a PS3 and games.
Sweatcoin’s digital currency approach is driven by creating an analogue of fiat currency where issuance and printing requires centralization as the amount of Sweatcoin in variable.
Fomenko, who recently spoke to Bitcoin Magazine, said that there are two things that drive these requirements.
“Sweatcoin can only be issued on the basis of verified movement, and for that we use quantity of movement and geographical location, which can’t be put into the public domain,” he said. “Once issued, we are keen to ensure that Sweatcoin can be accepted and exchanged between any willing party while allowing us to focus on objective one, which is best done in a decentralized fashion.”
As Sweatcoin is community-focused, the use of blockchain technology enables them to engage the community beyond the simple usage of their app as a front-end while enabling them as a business to focus on what they do best – movement verification.
Due to the fact that Sweatcoin’s approach is unique with their goal of helping people burn calories, it requires the creation of a custom solution to achieve this. For that they are using a version of Paxos consensus protocol called Byzantine Paxos.
“Centralized issuance will be using centralized architecture while decentralized transaction processing will use permissioned blockchain using the Byzantine Paxos algorithm,” Fomenko said.
While there will certainly be competition from the likes of British-made start-up, Bitwalking, which is also seeking to launch its own digital currency, Sweatcoin is confident in its software that uses a combination of behavioral and technological solutions to ensure that users can’t fake their activities.
Its first line of defense is limiting one installation per mobile and per device with a cap on the total number of steps accepted per day at 20,000.
“This will not affect most honest users, but it reduces the possible attractiveness for a malicious party to dedicate resources to breaking our platform,” said Fomenko. “The technological solutions we will be using include heuristics, AI, analytical algorithms and other proprietary solutions that are currently being documented.”
This will be the second startup for Fomenko. His last startup, Bloom.fm, was a U.K. music app which launched in 2013 and attracted 1.3 million downloads. If failed after its sole investor, a unit of Gazprom Media, pulled out after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and he failed to obtain fresh funding.
Now, however, with their sights set on the future, Sweatcoin’s founders have raised nearly $1 million in funding as well as gained the backing of the Greater London Authority and London Sport. The four co-founders say they are determined to make a success of their health and fitness idea incorporating the use of blockchain technology.
“Sweatcoin’s goal is to help people and make them more active, fit and happy,” Fomenko said. “It will be a business success for us when Sweatcoin starts to have a real value and can be exchanged for fiat currencies.”