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Optimal workout

Lecturer says new exercise machine will adapt to user's abilities

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff


Roberto Horowitz said his new idea for a smart exercise machine will give users an optimum workout.

Dr. Horowitz, professor in the University of California, Berkeley's Engineering Department, lectured to engineering students Wednesday as part of the Southwest Mechanics lecture series.

Every year, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering invites several guest lecturers to talk to students about new ideas and research.

In his lecture "Self-Optimizing Control of Smart Exercise Machines," Horowitz described the controller design, implementation and experimental verification that he has taken throughout his research. He also discussed the different problems he has encountered and the solutions.

He explained that in current exercise machines, resistance is manually adjusted or preprogrammed.

"They are ignorant of the user's performance," he said.

Horowitz's smart exercise machines can learn the capabilities of the users and determine the optimal workout for them.

He said the goals of the machine are to give a cardiovascular workout, to burn energy and to improve strength and endurance.

His major design concerns were for the machine to be adaptable to many users, safe and easily applicable to many exercise machines, he said.

Don Wilson, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering chair, attended the lecture. He said that because Americans are so concerned with exercise, the idea is marketable.

"I think it has tremendous potential to go commercial," he said.

Dr. Wilson said the lecture series is a learning vehicle for faculty and students.

"Over the course of the year, we expose the students and faculty to a variety of research," he said.

Engineering professor Dereje Agonafer attended the lecture and said in order to have a focus on research, the university must have dialogue with the rest of the world.

"It's absolutely critical to invite an outsider to come lecture," he said.

Engineering graduate student Raju Kurusamy said the lectures keep the university up with what's happening in the rest of the engineering community.

"It's quite a revolutionary idea," he said.

Sally Claunch

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