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IBM and Under Armour look to transform healthcare tech

By Catherine Knowles
Fri 22 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Under Armour and IBM have embarked on a mission to transform personal health and fitness with cognitive computing technologies.

IBM Watson, the tech giant’s technology platform that utilises natural language processing and machine learning, will help to create and provide meaningful data-backed health and fitness insights, the company says.

Backed by IBM Watson, UA Record will serve as a personal health consultant, fitness trainer and assistant by providing athletes with timely, evidence-based coaching around sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition, including outcomes achieved based on others ‘like you’.

A future version of the UA Record app powered by IBM Watson could be the first system to assess and combine a variety of factors that affect health and fitness programmes such as physiological and behavioural data, nutrition, expert training and environment.

It will share health and fitness insights comparable to others similar to the user, including average weight, average resting heart rate and average steps taken per day.

For example, a person can compete and compare against other people that are their same age - a male in his 40’s will see that there are 4.5 million other people in the database that are ‘just like you’.

Additional insights could show how long an average workout is or how long someone similar to the user is sleeping, down to the minute.

Through the IBM partnership, Under Armour will add new capabilities over the next year to the Cognitive Coaching System, including:

Behavioural and performance management

Based on Watson’s ability to tap into users behavioural and performance trends tracked via existing Under Armour mobile apps and fitness-tracking devices, the system can customise programmes.

Food intake tracking and overall nutrition management

Based on Watson Visual Recognition and Watson Discovery technology, the manual process of food logging will be replaced with visual recognition of food images for faster and easier food identification.

How weather and environmental factors effect training

Based on Watson’s weather domain knowledge combined with the Watson News Service API for integrating daily news sources; and ingesting geospatial data, the system can modify fitness program recommendations based on these outside factors.

“When it comes to digital health and fitness tracking, the past ten years have been about data collection. We’re now at a point where a shift is occurring and consumers are demanding more from this information," says Kevin Plank, Under Armour founder and CEO.

“This partnership will allow us to provide value back to the consumer in an unprecedented way, as we integrate IBM Watson’s machine learning technology with the robust data from Under Armour’s Connected Fitness community – the world’s largest digital health and fitness community of more than 160 million members,” he says.

“As the first system of the cognitive era, Watson infuses a kind of thinking ability into digital applications, products and systems. We have already seen this capability begin to transform industries as diverse as healthcare, insurance and retail,” says John Kelly, IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio senior vice president.

“We are excited to be working with such a leader in the health and fitness industry and now by leveraging the power of Watson, Under Armour will transform personal fitness, build a deeper relationship with its customers, and enhance virtually anyone's performance on their path to achieving personal goals.”

Initially, the Cognitive Coaching System will provide insights around four categories, which will be displayed within the newly released UA Record app: sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition.

The insights originate from three sources, including the Under Armour Connected Fitness community, external academic research studies and institutions, and IBM Watson similarity analytics. These insights will initially be available exclusively within UA Record available on the App Store.

Both Under Armour and IBM will allocate employees, technology and resources to further develop the Cognitive Coaching System, and will collaborate to define and evolve the consumer experience, the companies say.

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