We could all benefit from having personal coaches to keep track of the food we eat and the exercise we take, to praise us for our efforts, and to cajole us into doing more.
I so wish I was at CES this year. Out of all the techno-weenie events I keep my eye on, CES is the only one my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) is really aware of. Every time it’s mentioned on the news -- and it's mentioned all the time -- Gina calls me over to share information on the latest gadgets and gizmos.
Of course, we at EETimes and Embedded.com have own editors at CES, so I'm also receiving constant updates from the field. In fact, I was just reading Junko Yoshida's column CES 2017 Connects with AI, in which she discusses a variety of wearables and hearables that use artificial intelligence (AI) to grow smarter and serve their owners better.
Sad to relate, I didn’t see the Boltt company mentioned in Junko's column (there are so many things to see, and so little time to seem them all in). This is a shame, because I think Boltt has some very tasty technology (if you happen to be at CES, take the time to visit Boltt at booth 45930).
I don’t know about you, but I really need to work on being healthier and to lose some weight. I'm actually targeting losing 60 lbs by the end of the year, which isn’t going to be easy, but Gina and I started a mega diet as part of our New Year Resolutions. We are now eating only healthy, organic, fresh-cooked food with no sugar, bread, or processed meats like bacon (sob sob). Today is Day #4, not that I'm counting, you understand.
Of course, dieting isn’t sufficient unto itself, I also need to exercise. The problem is that I'm easily led astray. What I really need is a personal coach to keep track of all the exercise I take, to praise me for my efforts, and to cajole me into doing more. Sad to relate, I can’t find one who is prepared to (a) meet my unpredictable schedule and (b) provide his or her services for free.
Now, there are a variety of fitness trackers on the market -- the names Fitbit and Garmin immediately spring to mind -- and I've tried these in the past. On the one hand, they have worked pretty well for me in that, for a period of time, they've inspired me to count my steps. After a few weeks, however, I'm sad to say that they've fallen by the wayside.
One issue has been accuracy (or the lack thereof). I won’t mention names here to protect the innocent, but I found that one of my trackers reported substantially different results depending on whether I was walking down a road or walking on a treadmill, and it wasn't all that accurate in either environment. Personally, I find that not being able to trust the numbers is somewhat disheartening.
I would also be interested to know more about my sleep patterns. I no longer sleep throughout the night, but instead wake up every couple of hours or so (one of the products mentioned in Junko's column was a smart bed that can detect when any of the occupants -- including the dog -- starts to snore, at which time it will subtly nudge the snorer into a new position to restore peace and quiet). Sad to relate, however, I have once again been disappointed with the technology I've been exposed to thus far.
All of which brings us back to Boltt, an Indian-based company whose technology is the brainchild of Arnav Kishore. In addition to many other accomplishments, Arnav was an international tennis champion at the age of 18 and he's currently one of the world's youngest CEOs (he reminds me of a younger version of myself, except that I've never been a tennis champion or founded a successful high-tech wearables company, of course).
We start with Boltt's smart shoe and advanced stride sensor, which provide real-time bio-mechanical data on speed, distance, cadence, stride sensing, and sports tracking, and transmits this data, via Bluetooth, to the Boltt AI app running on the user’s smartphone.
Boltt's smart shoe and advanced stride sensor (Source: Boltt)
The sensor, which can also be attached to your own running shoe, is based on a 3-axis accelerometer (instead of the conventional 2-axis version) that tracks a much fuller motion of the shoe. This ability to monitor both longitudinally and vertically, coupled with advanced digital signal processing techniques and patented algorithms, allows the system to track a much fuller motion of the shoe, thereby providing best-in-class accuracy and offering real-time insights into the mechanics of how you run.
All of this data is interpreted by the Boltt AI Coaching App, which is designed to motivate, guide, and inspire you to perform your best by giving you real-time coaching while you run and workout. The advanced stride sensor and training portion of the app are complemented by Boltt's smart band and life-coaching portion of the app.
The shoe and sensor are complemented by Boltt's smart band and AI app (Source: Boltt)
The combination of the smart band and the app allow the user to keep track of, and analyze, his or her sleep, activity, and nutrition. By tracking and storing all of this data in one place, the app can provide users with a meal-by-meal analysis on daily nutrition/calorie goals and offer meaningful insights and guidance on how to live healthier.
The AI coach is described as being a personality that assumes the persona of a trusted mentor, and the interface is said to be as simple as chatting with a friend. I have to say that this sounds like just what I need. I'm going to try to lay my hands on a complete setup, in which case I shall report back in more detail when I'm (hopefully) substantially slimmer and trimmer. How about you -- do you think you would benefit from having an AI fitness and lifestyle coach?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting