Today’s society is becoming increasingly interwoven with technology. This development is especially beneficial in the health and wellness aspect of daily lives. I was made aware of this fact back in 2015, when a student from my town that was playing football at Tabor Academy made the news–an Apple watch had very likely saved his life. Paul Houle Jr., then 18, had been playing football out in the heat when he started having irregular back pain and heavy breathing. He went back to his dorm to go take a nap when he noticed on his watch that his heart rate, two hours after he stopped playing, was 60-80bpm over average. With a resting heart rate of 145, Paul knew he had to alert his coach, who got him immediate medical attention. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can be associated with playing sports in high heat. Paul’s muscles had begun to break down, releasing a toxin that was causing some of his vital organs to begin to shut down. Thankfully, Paul is fully recovered and living a healthy life now, but that incident shocked me into recognizing the range of benefits that integrating technology into our active lives could bring.
ABCNews video can be found here: http://abcn.ws/1FtUnSy
Wearable Technology, Now
Although it’s only been a few years since Paul found invaluable reward in investing in Apple’s wearable technology, endless companies are now employing that technology and artificial intelligence in a variety of services. One of those companies is Fitbit. Fitbit wristbands can be seen all over campus, on the arms of people who want a wearable technology that tracks steps, sleep, activity, heart rate, and more. Fitbit offers a multitude of wristbands, a couple smartwatches, an integrated app and a variety of accessories. The most recent product is the Fitbit Charge 3.
In addition to their already impressive range of offerings, the company has recently teamed up with Google to use machine learning on customers’ fitness data. Fitbit is going to be using Google’s Cloud Healthcare API to make it easier to combine individual exercise data with e-medical records. This decision will streamline the process of updating customer’s profiles and allow the technology to better analyze its data. Essentially, the partnership with allow Fitbit to utilize Google Cloud’s existing infrastructure and security capabilities to speed up the process of widespread population data analysis. Fitbit’s Health Solutions wants to bridge the gap between people and the healthcare system. The company wants to unlock personalized care, making it easier for doctors and clinicians to work with patients. Data will be able to be handled more securely and offer a plethora of insights not able to be obtained before. Further, the integration with Google and the company’s AI/ML abilities will lead to algorithms able to perform predictive analytics. Fitbits will be able to determine who needs help first; more people will be able to be saved through wearable tech.
Another company making waves in wearable technology is Vi, an artificial intelligence personal trainer. The technology involves bio-sensing headphones that coach people while collecting data on user physiology. Vi checks in with users while they’re training: 1) to improve the quality of their workout and 2) to better improve Vi’s machine learning. Users employ voice commands to check the progress of their workouts, make phone calls, and play music. Like the Fitbit, it tracks distance, steps, and heart rate, all in real time. Based on this information, Vi can readjust and edit workouts to best suit users’ needs.
Back in July, the New-York based company raised $20 million dollars to continue expanding. Vi wants to focus on two areas:
- Improving personalization, real-time feedback, and intelligent voice/audio content
The real-time feedback mentioned above is especially helpful in that users are kept accountable, according to the goals that they set. When customers purchase the headphones, they download an app wherein they enter personal data such as age, fitness level, and goals. The app can generate personalize plans and exercises for the user and then track their activity in real time. Vi generates playlists through Apple Music or Spotify that match up with the suggested pace for the run. In addition to that, if Vi notices that the user is moving a bit below suggested pace, she’ll politely nudge the runner to pick up the pace. All of these factors make for a tech-based training experience never seen before. That might be why Vi’s Kickstarter campaign a couple years ago became the site’s most funded Kickstarter for a fitness wearable.
2. Offering additional fitness and wellness activities
The goal is to continue to scale the technology in the future; the company wants to reach more people and provide even more accessible personal wellness. Right now, Vi offers support for third-party services like Google Fit and Apple HealthKit. There isn’t much concrete information out on proposed additional fitness and wellness activities, but it will be interesting to see how the new business continues to develop and potentially integrate its technology into other platforms.
So far, the health and wellness field has seen massive strides in regards to new technology and innovation. With partnerships like Fitbit and Google and never-before-seen technology like Vi’s AI personal trainer, it’s tough to predict exactly what’s coming next. Regardless, the world is moving ever-quicker and ever-closer to a merging of personal information and machine automation. It will be fascinating to see how the fitness and wellness facets of society further adapt to the change.