Cutting-Edge Tech: Designing the World’s Smartest Dumbbells
Even the simplest concepts can have the most complex designs—enter the Kabata Smart Weights. When prompted with the idea of creating the World’s Smartest Dumbbell in 2021, the Whipsaw team faced the challenge of creating a mobile weight experience that was so easily adjustable, interactive, and versatile that it would keep users coming back for more. Whipsaw was engaged to create a sophisticated lifestyle product at the luxury end of the market to shake up the fitness industry. The at-home weightlifting market, while ever-changing, still presents plenty of opportunity for innovation.
Kabata had a goal to bring about a revolution in the fitness industry by creating the first hands-free adjustable weight dumbbell experience. The goal was to provide a high-end and modern system, along with a connected training app, which would enhance the experience between customers and their fitness routine, all delivered in a compact footprint with premium materials. Since Whipsaw had previously worked on Tonal, the first-ever digital weight strength training system, Kabata’s co-founders, Kareem Aly and Brian Lovera, approached Whipsaw to take on this project.
Designing a Seamless Weightlifting Experience
Whipsaw took Kabata’s vision and immediately began to problem-solve. In-house industrial designers and mechanical engineers joined efforts to blend form and function with a focus on producing a new seamless, luxurious, weightlifting product. Industrial Designers Cole Derby, Natalie Rowan, and Grace Budgett spearheaded the process beginning with mock-ups and prototypes to create aesthetic, functional, and mobile equipment. The team placed an emphasis on the perspective of the machine both at rest and in motion to appeal to an all-inclusive demographic looking for a personalized experience.
“At Whipsaw, we have an implicit trust between our industrial designers and mechanical engineers. What happens in between, especially when we have group discussions about new solutions, sparks the creativity of the engineers and pragmatism from designers to create a nice meshing on both sides for the most optimal product.”Grace Budgett, Industrial Designer
Taking Kabata a step further, Director and User Experience Designer, Walker Harden, developed the mobile app features to enhance the Kabata experience beyond just the physical. Users can do more than just access curated workout programs and participate in fitness classes. They can also track their progress and performance metrics such as reps, velocity, time under tension, power, and more, and instantly share them with the app’s community. This way, they can become a part of a global community that encourages and supports each other’s fitness journeys, all from the convenience of the app. Results can be as public or as private as users choose, creating communal support that allows people to become stronger together.
Minimalist Design, Auto-Adjustments, and Personalized Coaching
The Kabata Smart Dumbbell system includes two dumbbells, a weight tray, and an app. Weights go from 5 to 60 pounds in 5-pound increments – with all engagement and disengagement mechanisms under the top platform. Switching weights can be done in three ways: using the stand-alone base dial, using a predictive lightning mode for AI to automatically adjust the weight, or using the Kabata mobile app to initiate responsive weight changes. The advanced engineering of the Kabata system replaces 12 sets of weights, which would otherwise require six sets per dumbbell, with a single minimalist design that looks visually sleek, is almost silent, and offers a super-smooth experience that is optimized for efficiency and progress toward fitness goals.
The quality of the shock-absorbent, scratch-proof, premium Nylon coating and the seamless dispersion of weight from one exercise to the next, add to this experience. When used in conjunction with the mobile app, the user’s progress is tracked in real-time, providing form correction, guidance, and personalized data-driven coaching. The app also offers unique routines tailored to the user’s body, with dumbbells that auto-adjust, rumble, and pulse to guide tempo, enhance form, and empower users to push themselves. It’s like a gamified version of weightlifting that is both effective and, some might say, addictive.
The finished product appeals to fitness enthusiasts and beginners alike, giving anyone an effective lifting experience with minimalistic elegance. The Kabata waitlist is now open.