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Show HN: Pushup alarm – A React app that uses your webcam to count pushups (pushupalarm.com)
134 points by faris-ssj on Jan 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments


- I flat out love the idea. I have a two year old and for me, the biggest thing that I've noticed about parenting is that it's made working out harder. I love food, so needless to say, I've watched my level of fitness steadily decline. This is very bad for me. An app like this would force me to get up and be active because frankly, the sound is worse than a pissed off toddler.

- The sound is worse than a pissed off toddler. My girlfriend said it sounds like a nuclear bomb siren. The sound is bad enough that it would motivate me to do pushups, just to get it to turn off. But, it's in a frequency range that causes lots of people problems. If you choose to keep developing, I'd suggest that having the ability to change/install a custom sound would be a great place to start.

- The pushup detection was poor. Either that, or either my form sucks or we have different definitions of what a pushup is. I did 10 pushups and it registered one and to shut down the infernal alarm, I ended up doing the 'raise the roof' motion. Oddly, the 'raise the roof' motion registered as a pushup every single time. I'm a nerdy 40 year old, so I should likely never do the 'raise the roof' motion. It's arguably even more personally limiting than air drumming along to Led Zeppelin (which is, incidentally, a wonderful workout though when you become known as 'the guy who drums at work', you'd be surprised how few people invite you out for lunch). :)

- You could be onto something amazing. Getting someone into the habit of dropping and doing pushups a few times a day would transform lives. I would pay for it if it checked my form and counted proper pushups for me. Though, it didn't seem to register my pushups, so maybe it does check my form.

Nice work and congratulations on front paging HN! I've got a lot of respect for what you've done and you should feel proud of what you have accomplished. I would be incredibly proud if I were in your shoes.

Alarm sound is at https://pushupalarm.com/missile.mp3 (curl/wget the URL)

Thanks a lot hluska!

I'll work on those points. I'll have to work on making the pushup/'raise the roof' detection smarter. Generally I get good results when I face the webcam whilst on the floor such that when I push up some portion of my forehead goes out of view. I do this before clicking start.

My intention isn't to only count pushups with perfect form, as I want it to be useable by all audiences, even if you can only do box push ups.

> An app like this would force me to get up and be active because frankly, the sound is worse than a pissed off toddler.

There are dozens of apps that would help you exercise in short periods of time.

I might be misunderstanding your comment. If so, please suggest apps!

It's not so much a function of knowledge as it is a function of doing it. I know that I'm highly biased, but my kid is flat out cool. She loves figuring things out and has a wonderful mischievous attitude to boot. Simply, when she's awake and I'm not working, I'd rather spend time with her (rather than stay active which would keep me alive longer, thus meaning more time with her).

For me, it was the sound that got me hooked on this particular app. It's the kind of godawful noise that would wake the dead just long enough so they can do their pushups and shut the damned thing up...:)

I've been working on a web app which counts your pushups via your webcam.

You place your laptop/phone on the floor, do pushups whilst looking at the camera, and the app counts how many you do.

I integrated this functionality into an alarm clock which you can only turn off by doing a preset number of pushups.

I've posted it here for two reasons.

First to see if it works. It work well for me. BUT, there must be a data/sample bias based on how I do pushups.

Second, to see if people get value from this.

Would appreciate feedback around how well it counts pushups (if you can't do pushups, you can try sit-ups, just make sure your head leaves the camera at the top). And let me know if you are interested in future testing.

Very cool. Going to try this out tomorrow morning.

A while ago I also made a Slack bot that calculates the amount of pushups based on open Pull Requests on GH on our private repos: https://github.com/robinpowered/swolebot

Some of my projects might end up killing me if I enable that.

I couldn't try it because there is no space near my webcam that I can nock out some pushups but I did set the alarm to see.

But it looks like a great idea!

It might not work for people in a co-living relationship. My wife would kill me if that alarm sound went off for more than 20 seconds (I get up before her).

What about React helps make this project easier than say vanilla Javascript? I would live to see a writeup on how it is made.

Also, random idea, think it'd be fun to be able to replace that alarm sound with the whooping sound from Rogue One.

Haha, the alarm is quite annoying. I have custom alarm sounds as a todo now.

My reasons for using React:

Speed of development: I work with react nearly everyday at work, so a lot of its usage has become muscle memory. React abstracts away the need to think about the DOM, I don't need to write any query selectors, or think about what part of the DOM should be re-rendered when. The end result is that I can code up a simple view, and focus my efforts on the complex/fun stuff - the bit which counts the pushups. If I took the project no further, at least I invested my time on the most rewarding and fun parts of development.

Code reusability for Mobile apps: The alarm uses setInterval to track when to go off. This works well for me on desktop, but when minimising a browser on a mobile phone the javascript code stops executing. I need an app. With this in mind, having a React codebase means I can create a mobile app with react native and reuse code I already have. Also, going forward I'd have parity of web app and mobile features.

I sympathise with those who call for dynamic websites with a sprinkling of Javascript. I think most traditional websites like blogs and simple e-commerce sites are better served by that model. But, in cases where your sites core functionality needs JavaScript anyway, has a lot of state changes, and resemble what would have been a desktop app years ago, React makes sense. Saying that, even with traditional sites I'd be tempted to use react with server side rendering. Just because I love how I can reason about everything in JavaScript, compose my App from the ground up with components (divide and conquer), and group code by responsibility as opposed to arbitrary splitting between business logic and views.

>It might not work for people in a co-living relationship. My wife would kill me if that alarm sound went off for more than 20 seconds (I get up before her)

Good use case for Bluetooth headphones.

>Also, random idea, think it'd be fun to be able to replace that alarm sound with the whooping sound from Rogue One.

Or, to prank my pushup loving flatmate, Gene Belcher's fart keyboard sample.

Yeah, until they fall out or die or the connection stops for whatever reason. Plus I can't imagine it's good for your ears to have headphones in for 5-8hrs every night.

Hm, are there any wake up alarms that actually go off through connected bt headphones? It seems like a recipe for being late.

I don't really use wake up alarms so I'm not sure; I get up pretty regularly at 6AM (even if I went to bed at 1, it's pretty awful.

My Bluetooth headphones would die before I wake up. :(

There is nothing about react that you need to do this, unless they're using a react package to interact with the canvas element.

Runtastic Push-Ups on iOS counts pushups either with touch input (nose touches screen) or the proximity sensor (you get close enough but your nose doesn’t quite hit the screen).

The nose solution looks especially clever, I like it.

And has the added benefit of not letting people count those half-pushups where you're still 12" off the ground.

I only took a brief look, but I was pleased to find that this seems to count the pressups client-side and doesn't send off a video feed to the server. Good job.

Really love the idea, I've been planning on working on my calisthenics and this was the best thing I've ran across, however, I do have some problems with it.

- I realized that many people have already complained about the sound so I don't think I really need to go into much detail about having optional alarm sounds

- When I had my cam on the ground so it would be able to see my face and detect my head going up and down I ended up having to do about 30 perfect form push ups to complete my goal of 5 push ups. One idea that popped into my head was maybe show some sort of outline for where the face, shoulders, arms, etc. should be so that it could be more efficient in detecting a push up.

- I found that when I kept my laptop on my desk and bent the cam down it had counted all of my push ups which was much less frustrating than when my cam was on the ground.

Thanks for the feedback. Glad you found an orientation which works. I'll definitely look at ways like you mentioned to help people get into that position first time round.


- annoying sound! Not motivational. Instead, have snooze option when detecting movement (but activate alarm again if no pushups). This also allows for some warmup.

- some feedback or countdown of pushups needed could be valuable (when I started, chunking and counting down helped go through them) see the 'seven' app for inspiration (also shows proper form)

- why limit to pushups? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU6PcBS1pWw motion tracking printable tags

- make it easy for me to setup a routine and challenge myself

This is a cool idea! The pushup detection works ok for me.

A couple of minor issues I noticed:

- In my browser (firefox), the time on the main page overflows the black background

- The webcam is still turned on after the pushup detection is done

I built an iOS app that does this exact same thing a few years ago: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/100-pushups-all-star/id70851...

It uses face detection to determine a pushup.

So if I move the phone up and down in front of my face it will count pushups?

Yep, you have to be fairly close to the screen for it to count. Obviously you can cheat if you want to, but what good is that.

Nice job. Worked for me without having to fiddle with the camera or anything. Well done!

I like that it's all local by default. The ML practitioner in me though craves an option to share frame data so that you can build a deeplearn.js compatible network and distribute that!

This is great! I've been working on something like this as well (an automatic tracker for various body movements). Would love to have a chat about how you've accomplished this.

Does this use facial recognition? That is, do you have to actually face the camera, or does it simply use some basic object recognition to determine if something is moving up and down?

No, I did try that but it was too slow. I will write up an article once I have improved it if people are interested in.

In a nutshell, I take a stream of frames from the camera, then do a diff on the frames to see what has moved, I then see if the diff of pixels over time is what I'd expect a pushup to look like using basic logic. The movement of pixels over time should look similar to a sine wave. I threw in some simple logic to account for noise in the data.

The pixels' diff over time resembling a sine wave is really interesting -- but it makes sense! I'd read an article/blog post about this. Cool app!

I managed to fool it by hand movements (up and down and bending my fingers), so for sure no face needed.

There's always the distinct possibility your hands have a face you haven't noticed.

I was able to fool it by doing pushups off my desk, though I was impressed that it worked at all.

repeat this cool trick and check yourself for a six pack

I just moved up and down and it detected that as a push up

How hard would it be to make a pull-up alarm instead?

so it works by identifying the location of your face/head?

We've been working on RepCam [1], built in react-native -- it's currently iOS only, as we found activation energy to use it on a laptop to be too high. Real-time computer vision for fitness tracking is our core competency.

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/repcam/id1118115900?mt=8

Hijacking a 'show HN' thread to promote your own product is a very dangerous form of marketing. To you, it might seem like some edgy 'growth hacking'. But, frankly, it hurts your brand way more than it helps.

Thanks for the feedback. My impression is that HN usually likes to see alternatives and similar products in the space when one is shared. I know I do, when I see a Show HN or even a general product share here, and is often the top comment. This space in particular is sparsely populated (indoor exercise tracking without specialized sensors) so if it's interesting to people, it may be hard to find other similar projects.

That said, I wanted to comment on the usability activation energy aspect as much as the shameless plug.

I would generally agree that people like to hear about alternatives that are available in a similar field. It's possible that your initial post sounded more like a Plug and less like a Contribution, but that's a wording/tone thing. -shrugs- just food for thought

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