21st Century Pedometer

By Gina Morss

July 15, 2010 Updated Jan 27, 2009 at 11:58 PM CDT

You've seen the commercials local leaders touting, 'It's better here.'
You may be skeptical in light of local layoffs and the anticipated downsizing of District 150 schools.

But, the people at a Peoria start–up business see an opportunity for growth. Here's there story in our Pocket of Prosperity.

We're just a month into the New Year and many folks are struggling to keep their resolutions to get moving and lose weight. But a new device from Peoria start–up ProActive could help its users stay ahead of their health.

"We're looking at 10–15% savings in health insurance costs over the long haul," said Lou Schendl with ProActive.

Methodist Medical Center is one of four employers to test the ProActive product.

"We've been doing the Moon Walk for so many years that we thought this might be another neat thing to offer more of the technology side," said Michelle Williams with Methodist Manager of Wellness.

About 100 employees wore the devices and participated in the program called SimpleSteps. It incorporates an activity–monitoring device called the ProPed, which measures walking steps, running steps, distance traveled and activity time. The data is automatically sent to the participant's personal web–based dashboard. Users see immediate feedback on progress...taking the guess–work out of fitness.

"That motivated me to walk a little farther, harder and increase my activity."

The information was transferred through a remote access point or RAP that ProActive placed at Methodist. ProActive partner Lou Schedl explains that every time a participant walked by a RAP the information was downloaded.

"This info is sent wirelessly to the antenna and into this device, which is a mini–computer. That information is then processed and sent through the Internet," said Schendl.

Users have their own access code so no one else can see your progress except for you. If you're into gadgets and gizmos and gotta have the latest technology then the ProPed might be for you.

"Most people these days are more "techy." So this was right up that "techy" alley, where it's on that computer and they can see it...it's definitely 21st century," said Williams.

The technology is also hooked up to a so–called ActiveScale and ActivePressure... Users get info on their weight and blood pressure in special graphs that they can check daily or more often if they'd like.

"What we're really trying to do is to drive health insurance costs down as well as improve employee productivity for the employers," said Schendl.

Individual consumers will use ProActive products in the future. For now, the company is targeting large, self–insured employers like hospitals.

ProActive hopes to generate a 7–figure business it's first year, becoming profitable in 2010. The company got its start thanks to seed money from local investors like Kathy Downing.

The company has a contract with a major athletic shoe manufacturer, putting the technology right inside the shoe, with the information downloading into the users iPod. For legal reasons ProActive can't say which shoe–maker is using its technology. But local retailers like Running Central, sell the shoes.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.