Wired on the $4,000 NordicTrack X32i treadmill and its 32-inch HD screen:
Despite having a huge display strapped to it, NordicTrack’s hardware pushes people to subscribe to exercise software operated by iFit, its parent company, and doesn’t let you watch videos from other apps or external sources. iFit’s content includes exercise classes and running routes, which automatically change the incline of the treadmill depending on the terrain on the screen. But [he], and many other NordicTrack owners, weren’t drawn to the hardware by iFit’s videos. They were drawn in by how easy the fitness machines were to hack.
To get into his X32i, all [he] needed to do was tap the touchscreen 10 times, wait seven seconds, then tap 10 more times. Doing so unlocked the machine—letting [him] into the underlying Android operating system. This privilege mode, a sort of God mode, gave [him] complete control over the treadmill: He could sideload apps and, using a built-in browser, access anything and everything online.
Since October, NordicTrack has been automatically updating all of its exercise equipment—its bikes, ellipticals, and rowing machines all have big screens attached—to block access to privilege mode. The move has infuriated customers who are now fighting back