Doug Miller had no idea his long career in cellular technology would lead him to run a company responsible for self-pacing treadmills. And yet, here he is, at the helm of IMPOWER Health, a new health tech business in the UNeTech incubator.
Miller, who earned a BS in biomedical engineering from Marquette University and an MBA from Northwestern University, worked for 24 years for Motorola in product management, product licensing, and engineering before moving into the fitness world as a chief architect and director of both electrical and software engineering for Life Fitness. The combination of these roles is what led UNeTech Associate Director Joe Runge to recruit him to take on his newest role as CEO and President of IMPOWER Health.
According to Doug, when Joe called Life Fitness, at least according to legend, numerous people there told them to call Doug.
“UNeMed had done great work getting interest from a variety of fitness technology professionals in the original self-pacing treadmill invention,” said Runge. “Doug was on my shortlist of partners and agreed to take a risk on the project — I’m so glad he did!”
Miller worked all over the globe for Motorola, connecting with clients across Europe and Asia. He recalled phone users in Asia showing him how large American phones did not work for them because they did not fit in their small hands. It helped him understand the importance of customized products for individual markets, a skill that has helped him working on the IMPOWER Treadmill, a treadmill that allows for customized workouts for athletes on the treadmill through clever engineering software.
Working on the engineering portion of health products is nothing new to Miller. “I always had a passion for fitness after playing sports in high school and in rec leagues. So that was in my wheelhouse,” Miller said “While I was at Life Fitness for five years, we designed and built some of the leading cardio products.”
Miller said he watched the fitness industry adapt as technology changed. “As more and more people get used to using tablets, they demanded that technology be available at home.” He said Life Fitness even attempted to create a self-pacing treadmill during his time with the company, but it was unsuccessful.
Miller said the work that the UNO Biomechanics Department has been the secret to the success of the IMPOWER Treadmill. “I think likely because the UNO team comes at it through a different perspective,” Miller said. “They look at it from kinesiology perspective, and they’ve created a system that responds from that perspective. It’s so responsive and highly tuned from any user that after a few steps the system is so highly calibrated from no effort of the user’s part they get a very highly customized experience.”
Now that the technology is working so effectively, IMPOWER Health is ready to look into the next step: finding a partner who is in the fitness space who can help accelerate the effort even further. This means a manufacturer that sees the potential in the treadmill and buys it from IMPOWER to produce it on a large scale.