Wearables roundup: New fitness trackers feature AI-enabled coaching

Boltt, Vi and Sensoria are three companies hoping to make their marks with unique products in an expanding market.
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Boltt is a new sports technology startup that wants to change the way athletes use wearables. Rather than just providing metrics like most fitness wearables, it wants to introduce usable guidance through artificial intelligence. In short, while the athletes focus on their training, an AI-enabled personal coach crunches the data and gives personalized instructions.

Boltt is working on this technology in partnership with Garmin. To come up with customized and informed advice, it will the athlete’s movements and classify them according to time, type and intensity. With sensors that will gather both mechanical and cardiovascular data, Boltt’s training tools will convert the information into usable guidance. An AI-enabled personal coach, nicknamed B, will guide users toward their goal-oriented activities instead of just giving them information they can’t use.

“B reads your sleep, fitness, nutrition and activity data, stores them in one place and gives meaningful insights and guidance, on how to live healthier,” Boltt cofounder Aayushi Kishore sad in a statement. “Our wearable AI advancement is exploring the future capabilities of machines—the limits and extremes of their ‘intelligence’ and their ability to replicate human thinking.”

The virtual coach is expected to be a hands-free and eyes-free hearable tool. Other features will include guidance on personalizing training routines, minimizing injuries, intake of nutrition and adequate recovery through sleeping habits. At the moment, the Indian startup is inviting users to sign up to get an early preview of their soon-to-be-launched product.

Boltt, however, is not the only one who is planning to integrate artificial intelligence with fitness wearables.

Vi, an AI enabled hearable, was launched through a Kickstarter campaign in June 2016. Within 90 minutes, it met its goal of $100,000 and surpassed $200,000 in 24. The campaign was started by LifeBeam, a familiar name in wearable technology, known for developing bio-sensing technologies for NASA and the Air Force.

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Vi gathers data by monitoring athlete’s physiology and environment, activity history as well as reading data from other fitness apps. Its integrated AI then analyses and adapts the data to provide the athletes with suitable insights through voice or text. It also uses speech recognition for certain commands. Although currently designed for runners, Vi hopes to be used for swimming and biking workouts among others through software updates.

Also funded through a Kickstarter campaign, fitness clothing company Sensoria Inc. plans to create a new line of sports bras and T-shirts which will be connected to their Sensoria v2.0 app. The app will feature virtual coaching, training plans, setting and monitoring of personal fitness goals, but its unique feature will be an algorithm called Heart Sentinel. Created by a cardiologist, this algorithm will use heart-rate monitoring on the clothing to detect cardiac irregularities.

Even though the focus of Sensoria’s new product will be monitoring cardiac irregularities, its AI enabled trainer, real-time feedback and training plans could be comparable to Vi and Boltt.

For Vi, its speech recognition could be its distinguishing factor. In the case of Boltt, if it delivers on its promised potential, it could cement its place in the market as a versatile wearable.

All three wearables are expected to be available later this year.