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Sportlyzer invites sports aficionados to participate in a study showing how smart Mike Lyzer is

Sportlyzer, a startup that unites virtual sports trainer software and social networking, plans to conduct a study starting in January 2011 involving dozens of amateur endurance athletes.

Sportlyzer is developing a Web-based service -a user-friendly training and motivation software program aimed at exercise enthusiasts. The goal of the company is to launch a "virtual trainer" controlled by a computer program that provides automatic training recommendations to users through a social network. It this becomes much easier for people to get advice from a trainer - and more affordable, too.

Dull work almost completed

Sportlyzer founder Tõnis Saag says that the years-long "dull work" on developing Web applications that provide automatic training recommendations is nearing completion. The initial version of the algorithms that should breathe life into the virtual trainer have been nearly completed. Even the trainer avatar - at least the prototype - is ready: The virtual trainer, Mike Lyzer (pictured), has resided on Facebook for some time already, although he does not yet dispense individual advice.

From here on, Saag says the company will focus on two things. First of all, developing Lyzer's "intelligence" and his character further. Second, they intend to carry out a study of the program algorithms for a restricted group of users, where tens of amateur athletes age 22-45 will be invited to participate. The study objective is to create scientific substantiation for Sportlyzer.

Saag says that the Sportlyzer training log along with the social network will be opened before the year is through. Virtual trainer Mike will start giving individual advice by the summer of 2011.

Overcomes the motivation problem

The Sportlyzer web application should help overcome a common problem - fluctuating levels of motivation. It will analyze people's training sessions and help discover potential problems that lead to "holes" in their training regimen.

The user enters data into the program - starting with age, weight, chosen sport and average training activity. As they go along they enter the duration and intensity of their workouts and pulse rates. The software analyzes the data and gives - through Mike Lyzer - recommendations for the subsequent workouts. Exercise buffs will also get a clear overview of whether their physical shape is waxing or waning.

For instance, Mike might warn that the load is too great; running the risk of injury or illness. Or he might say that the load is too low. He also keeps track of people's motivation, asking that questionnaires be filled out to get better information on issues.

Mike can also be straight-forward

"Mike is like a skilled trainer - he dispenses praise where praise is due, provides encouragement, but sometimes he may also get on someone's case," says Saag.

Sportlyzer, which currently operates at Tartu Science Park, has been through the Estonian Development Fund's business incubator and received a seed investment from Rein Lemberpuu (Playtech) and the Estonian Development Fund. The first grant also came from Enterprise Estonia. Besides the well-known entrepreneur Jüri Kaljundi (CV Online, Nagi, Talentag, Emp.ly) the team includes sports researchers Kristjan Port and Jarek Mäestu and the sports psychologist Aave Hannus.

Toivo Tänavsuu, Testmarket.eu

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