This tech company is bringing an AI personal trainer to your headphones
Not much pushes the body harder than space travel or extreme flight. Successful missions depend on knowing precisely how astronauts and pilots respond to huge physical strain, and that requires a level of real-time biometric tracking way beyond your average heart-rate chest strap. That's where wearable innovator LifeBEAM comes in.
Founded in 2011, the New York-based business has spent years developing cutting-edge solutions that give NASA and the US Air Force mission-critical insights.
LifeBEAM perfected the capture of environmental data like elevation, temperature, and weather - along with more complex biometrics such as oxygen blood level, blood flow, and heart-rate variability - to help inform life-saving in-flight decisions.
Now LifeBEAM has brought its aerospace tech down to Earth, paired it with bleeding-edge artificial intelligence, and created the LifeBEAM Vi (pronounced "Vee"), a Kickstarter-record-breaking fitness wearable.
Why Vi is different
At first glance, Vi looks a lot like a regular set of premium earphones; they're anything but. With a heart-rate monitor, activity tracker, enhanced voice recognition mics, quality headphones, personal music integration, and your personal trainer all in one, Vi is out to revolutionize the way we all get fit.
Think of Vi as intelligent personalized coaching for people who can't afford a running coach. You get motivational insights, adaptive training advice, and companionship, all based on what the AI learns about your unique goals, physiology, and fitness habits.
After a few runs, Vi's friendly persona offers actionable, coaching tips to help you run better, train more effectively, avoid over training and ultimately reach your goals.
"Fitness and running seemed a brilliant place to start, but we didn't want to just create another piece of hardware," says Omri Yoffe, CEO, LifeBEAM. "We wanted a product that could prove the real potential of AI, connecting people with experiences that had real, meaningful value."
He says one of the biggest challenges was creating a persona that was human, compelling, emotional, and fun. A "creature" who really understands the user and can relay things in the right way.
"That meant 10 months of extensive research, pinpointing not only the right voice, but also the context of when interactions should take place," he says. "The end result is a female voice that's human enough to trust, vulnerable, and even a little random and sarcastic. It's not just a robot."
How Vi works
Every time you run, Vi learns more. Layers of data like heart rate, cadence, elevation, weather, and pace are all used to paint a detailed picture of your current fitness and what's needed to reach any goals you've set.
Let's say you're doing your weekly fast 5k run and Vi spots that your cadence isn't at your usual 180 BPM. She'll ask if you'd like a metronome sound played to encourage the right foot strike rate.
She might spot that your heart rate during a training run is above your norm - a sign that you might be over training or about to get a cold. So, she'll suggest an alternative pace or activity for that day and recalibrate your training plan to reflect this. She can keep you in the right heart-rate zone to burn fat or build speed endurance; spot weather influence on your training; or when you're getting fatigued.
Vi also learns when you're not running. An seven-hour battery life (in full sensors-working mode) means it can be worn all day to collect useful insights when you're not training. For example, the company is currently working on a near future software release (set mid 2017) whereby if you miss a Tuesday training session once, Vi will clock it and adjust your training plan. Miss every Tuesday regularly and she'll stop putting sessions in at that time.
"Vi really listens to the user, better understands who you are, and provides much more personalized insights," says Yoffe. "By improving a person's awareness of their own behaviors, environment, and real-time physiology, she provides an inspiring and truly smarter workout experience."
This post is sponsored by LifeBEAM.
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