Category: software

Interesting free apps

Here is a quick article to share with you some recent apps I have been using/trying. The first one is an app developed by Philips called Vital signs which works on an Ipad 2.

The Vital Signs App by Philips, allows for heart rate and breathing rate analysis. Simply place an iPad 2 on a table in a well lit room , place your face inside the box on screen and the app will determine your heart rate and breathing rate.

Heart rate is actually calculated by comparing the tiny changes in colour of your face which occurs as a result of changes in blood flow. The measurement of breathing rates occur via simply detecting and counting the rise and fall of the users’ chest.


The accuracy seems to be pretty good in well lit areas and in normal breathing conditions. I will do more testing in the next few weeks and present some results here.


The other very interesting app is again free and has been developed by Dr. Grant Abt called Training load. Training load allows anyone to record and track the ‘dose’ of exercise for a single person with two common methods used by sport and exercise scientists – Session-RPE and the Training Impulse (TRIMP). Both methods integrate training intensity and training duration into a single number (arbitrary unit) representing the overall dose of training. The app allows the storage and sharing of the training data and it is completely free. Training load is available on the apple store and works on iphone and ipod touch.

photophoto (2)

Tapping on ‘View Graph’ will display the data as both individual sessions (labelled DAILY) and as weekly totals (labelled WEEKLY). The weekly graph for TRIMP also displays the percentage change from the previous week. The weekly graph for Session-RPE also displays the monotony, percentage change from the previous week, and strain. Monotony is a value that describes the variation in the training load, with higher values representing less variation.

Strain is calculated as load x monotony and displayed on the weekly graph as a black circle connected with lines. Strain represents the combined value of load and monotony, so if the load is high and there is little variation in that load then the strain will be high.

The monotony values are colour-coded green (good), orange (caution), or red (danger). As for monotony, the percentage change in weekly loads are colour-coded to show the magnitude of change – green (optimal), orange (high), and red (too high).

It works really well and it is a simple free tool to track the training dose and the perception of loading of your athletes wherever they are.

Free reference manager and PDF organiser

I have not had much time to write on the Blog recently. London Olympics are approaching fast and there are too many things to do and too little time!

Anyway, I will write a short article to praise a recent addition to my software tools. Of course this is another freeware. All of us continuously struggle to organise all the PDFs of the scientific articles we read and also make sure we can site while we write articles. Commercial software packages are of course available, however I came across a great freeware solution: Mendeley. If you want to look at a short video to explain how it works, have a look at this video:

I have downloaded and used the software for few days now, and it has been very easy to create specific folders and import PDF files arranging my references by topics.


The folder syncs with server space, so it is possible to keep all the documents and libraries if your computer crashes or if you lose it, as well as push the content to other devices.

It is also possible to annotate, highlight and share comments with others.


Also, it is possible to create shared libraries so everyone can add and share comments as well as share the PDF contents. Finally, it is possible to create an online group to share knowledge on a particular area.

A great tool for anyone to use. The free version provides 500MB of space free and 500MB to be shared as well as the possibility to have 5 private groups ad 10 users. More space and more options are available for reasonable fees.

Curious? Download the software and find out more about Mendeley here:

Mendeley reference manager logo

Analyzing your health by phone?

Just read an interesting article on a new voice recognition software able to detect how you are feeling. The emotional decoding software has been developed in Israel and sounds interesting.

The technology, developed by eXaudios Technologies, is already being used to transform the world of tele sales (sadly…), and future applications could include diagnosis of conditions such as autism and Parkinson’s, as well as their severity.

I believe there is mileage in looking at applications of voice and face recognition to understand fatigue/staleness and stress in athletic populations as well as in coaching staff. Previous work by Greeley et al. has suggested the possibility of detecting fatigue with voice recognition. Work by Ruiz et al. (1990) already suggested the possibility of voice analysis to detect psychological or physical state of an individual.

All I can say is that this technology is part of a speculative grant application to look at a multidisciplinary approach to understand and quantify stress and fatigue in various populations. Let’s hope it gets funded so you may see the results in few years time!

In the meantime, the video from Exaudios technologies is here.