Mozilla, NSF honor Blacksburg’s Bob Summers for fitness app concept
[Correction Sept. 26 5 p.m.: This story has been revised to state the prize money associated with Bob Summers' honor.]
A Blacksburg businessman has won a national software contest with a vision for a fitness app that would be expected to get people up off the couch and exercising at their TVs.
Bob Summers was honored Wednesday by the Mozilla Foundation, the Firefox browser’s not-for-profit creator, and the National Science Foundation, the federal science-advancement agency.
In a contest called Ignite, Mozilla and the NSF invited developers and the general public to conceive of ultramodern apps to run over the next-generation Internet, which is expected to offer virtually unlimited bandwidth and speed. The winning app concepts had to bring public benefits in such realms as healthcare, education, public safety, energy, workforce development and advanced manufacturing.
Eight winners were announced Wednesday, including Summers, whose app would allow up to seven people in different locations to exercise as a group with a form of visual contact over their TV screens. With three-dimensional scanning of participants and data exchange over high-speed Internet, participants could see a representation of each other moving, according to Summers, who is looking for a team to build the app.
“It’s better to have a peer to work out with than by yourself,” Summers, 39, of Blacksburg, said. “This app brings together people with similar fitness goals in an online, immersive environment in a place they’re used to being all the time.”
Summers said one participant could be a physical therapist or medical provider, making the app useful to lead prescribed group exercise sessions for recovery after an injury or medical event. He said he wants to people in that line of work on the development team.
Summers receives $1,000. During the development round, the event sponsors are offering $485,000 to support winning proposals.
“We have an opportunity to leverage this prize to build something incredible,” said Summers, who is a software entrepreneur, owner of the video communications company nanoCom Corp. and founder of TechPad, a shared workspace for knowledge workers in downtown Blacksburg.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661
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