Smart technology continues to integrate further and further into every aspect of our daily lives, including fitness and health thanks to programs and devices like fitness tracker apps and wearables. At this year’s CES in January, the world was introduced a new contender on the market, Boltt and their line of Advanced Fitness Wearables powered by an AI-enabled mobile app. Founded by Arnav and Aayushi Kishore, the company seeks to revolutionize how we exercise with products that monitor health and movement and interpret that data to improve not only workout performance, but every day well-being.
Safe to say, we at Dornob were intrigued, so we decided to catch up with Aayushi Kishore later to learn more.
Dornob: Why found a company focused on smart fitness?
Aayushi Kishore: With an increasing market for wearables and people taking fitness seriously, Indians are becoming more health conscious and making choices that help them streamline their fitness regime. In tandem, Boltt was conceptualized with the vision to enable the end user make use of meaningful insights generated from a variety of trackers.
We are consistently mapping consumer needs and challenges, their approach towards fitness and ways in which they can stay encouraged. Our aim is to motivate people around the globe to make a move towards healthier lifestyle and stay fit by customizing their fitness routine as per personalized data analysis.
Boltt, was born with the vision to bridge the gap in the wearable market where a myriad of companies brought data chunks to the table with little significance for the consumers, who had a hard time making sense of heaps of numbers. As a sports-tech brand, Boltt is playing with a combination of advanced fitness wearables and AI ecosystem. From an advanced AI Health Coach, to the hardware, its products represent a “connected fitness” solution, accelerating the quality of life for users, further helping themselves lead a better life.
Boltt has been working on creating a winning solution by using a mix of data science, behavior change, and cognitive computing to create a Virtual Coaching Intelligence. The company has three strong businesses—hardware, software, and services—linked by a common vision of how the world of technology and wearables will develop.
After participating at TechCrunch Disrupt, Pirate Summit, and CES (2017), we strive to usher in a new era of “Connected Life” at the core of which will be smart products that do all the work for the users. Boltt has made presence felt across international platforms in the past few months and we’ll be launching our products soon.
Technology and fitness have become more integrated in the past several years, with apps and hardware like Fitbit making it easier to track goals and progress. So, what makes the Boltt fitness system different from other brands in this trending industry?
We are here to develop a cure to lifestyle disorders the world is facing today with our unique “connected fitness solutions.” Over the years, there has been robust development in the wearable space, with an increased focus on what’s sold in the name of “fitness wearables.” Our mission was to create an AI enabled health assistant that would guide users to a better lifestyle by giving them actionable feedback on training, sleep, nutrition, and their day-to-day activity. In the process of creating this AI assistant, the team researched and worked day in and day out to give birth to a personality who will be your personal coach. Going a notch further, Boltt offers a unique experience with the combination of its AI ecosystem, fashionable hardware, and “B,” who is your friend, guide, and coach. This entire development process was one big challenge, but we are glad that we could work to create the technology as per what was foreseen a year back. It is also something that clearly differentiates us from the rest of the market.
Our brand is a combination of fashion and innovative wearable products, consisting of a “Smart Shoe” embedded with sensors and a range of smart bands to pick from. Additionally, advanced technology for the sensor has been developed in partnership with Garmin—the world pioneer in wearable technology and sensors. The products are not “dumb wearables”; they are interactive and provide AI Virtual Coaching on health and fitness.
We have innovated with converting the large chunks of data into valuable insights and guidance using virtual coaching from B. The interactive app uses advanced statistics and data captured from the connected devices in the most useful way for better training and running decisions. It also provides coaching on fundamentals like activity, nutrition, and sleep.
AI is manifested within the Apps through dynamic audio feedback, based on users’ real-time performance and training. With 24/7 text coaching and user interaction it also guides and supports the user in eating healthier and getting more active.
It’s obvious why the Boltt wearables and app would appeal to fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes, but what about the average user? Is there a difference in how accessible this technology feels to a person looking to just improve their health as opposed to a fitness enthusiast?
Boltt’s commitment to fitness goals is not just business-centric. At the heart of its business plans are people and communities who may be children, working professionals, or athletes from various sports. We don’t create buckets in terms of our target audience, and due to the interactive AI assistant, it gets easy to use, be it anyone.
Going further with its vision of developing next generation consumer-centric solutions for personal health & fitness, Boltt has a global board of influencers and adviser’s ranging from marathoners and triathletes to data scientists, world-renowned biokineticists, nutritionists, and sleep experts who are helping to achieve this mission of building a healthier lifestyle.
Fitness resolutions are common every New Year, but they usually don’t last long. How do you think Boltt will be able to keep users engaged with their fitness regimen?
We don’t want the users to restrict themselves to a New Year’s resolution, but make healthy lifestyle a habit that can be practised throughout the year. The value that Boltt brings to the table in terms of its unique product range which comes mated with a fashion quotient, encouraging users to go ahead keep their eyes on the fitness goals while not compromising on the style factor. Boltt’s partnership with Garmin on unique sensors helps capture all forms of body data (mechanical and cardiovascular) most intuitively as well. These form factors are aimed to make technology pervasive by interweaving it into the user’s daily life.
How does B get to know the Boltt user? As you’ve mentioned, users communicate with the app their own personal goals, so how much does the AI learn from you and how much does it adjust its program based on your actual performance versus data you input yourself?
B collects a user’s biometrics and personal data through the Stride Sensor, activity tracker sensors, mobile phone sensors, and user inputs through chats. Further, this data is then used to derive insights and map the user’s current performance with goals that the user has set for himself.
For instance, if a user wants to lose weight, B will suggest the plans which will help the user achieve the desired and healthy weight (which is required for a specific body type and age). At Boltt, we always envisioned to build B in such a manner that the end user gets personalized feedback. The user can then select any of the recommended plans and follow the training, nutrition, and recovery tasks assigned to them. The AI support will not only guide the user throughout the process but make adjustments to the plan on the basis of user’s performance, keeping the ultimate goal in the view.
There are days when one feels discouraged, Boltt’s AI coach will take all of this into consideration and act on real time data, rather than just assigning tasks. In the process of becoming a fitter individual, B becomes your personal trainer and cheerleader.
The more you train with B and the more you use it, the better it understands you and your body type. B does not work with just one day or one week’s data; it collates data over months and identifies patterns, choices, strengths, and weaknesses. It then charts a plan based on these to get the most out of the customized training and nutrition plans. The best part is, it analyses the correlation between your activity, sleep, and nutrition and diagnoses which one of these parameters is negatively affecting the other ones and offers an improvised solution immediately. B can diagnose the user through data available and draws insights which can be incorporated to boost user’s health and achieve the target set.
Does B have any programming to accommodate special dietary or health needs? Are there different goal parameters that can be adjusted to provide better eating advice to those with diabetes or high cholesterol for example? Or, will B adjust a fitness program for an asthmatic based on data it receives about breathing stress?
B is trained to accommodate special conditions a user may have, right from dietary preferences or conditions like lactose intolerance, vegan, gluten allergies, food allergies, etc. B can also be made to learn about specific health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, bone and muscle related issues, and sinuses. On the application, it is a mandatory process to feed the information regarding dietary choices or health issues. Just like when you join a gym or a fitness class, they make you fill out of form stating any physical condition you may have, it is the same for B. It is your personal trainer and wants to know if the user has any conditions. Only then does B proceed to align training and nutrition for the user. Every training session and meal plan is personalized. It’s completely tailor made for the user based on their conditions and preferences.
B and the real-time coach will do their best to encourage a user to adjust their movement to minimize injury, but they can’t always predict everything that may happen during a workout. Is there any connectivity with emergency services currently in the app, and if not, are there plans to add it?
In near future, we have plans to add the SOS feature in the app that dials a user’s family members, friends, doctor, ambulance, police, etc. in times of need.
What are the company’s plans for expanding this technology? Do you have any new products lined up for the near future?
In terms of hardware, the team is innovating new sensor forms and smart clothing. With regards to software, soon we’d like to make the technology open source. Our software is modular in nature and highly compatible with about 50 popular health and fitness apps and wearables. The team at Boltt is keen to expand this number further. Also, we are looking at being able to sync body vitals like blood sugar, blood pressure, oxygen level, temperature, weight, etc. from medical devices.
One interesting feature which is in the pipeline is capturing user data from third-party devices and apps through images. Our vision is to make Boltt a hub for all your health and fitness data from any app or wearable a user might be using. In the process, the intention is to offer centralized, synchronized, smart data management.
Medical technology is another industry that is growing rapidly with the use of biometrics. Is there any aim to connect this technology with other fields such as physical therapy in the future?
Certainly. We are already in the process of making our app compatible with other wearables, apps, and devices. We want the user to be able to input their medical data to the application. Since we aim to innovate new sensor forms, physical therapy and rehabilitation are in the cards.
Boltt plans to integrate into several group platforms such as schools and corporate wellness. However, it’s not always possible or appropriate to wear sport shoes and fitness trackers in these atmospheres all day. Will different hardware solutions for these platforms that will be more natural to their environment or will Boltt’s software be adapted for a more short-term use (such as being worn only during gym classes)?
During the process of designing Boltt hardware we had the vision to make the hardware highly portable, unobtrusive, seamless, and versatile. So, for instance, the Stride Sensor can be worn with any footwear in the world! The clip on the sensor gives you the flexibility to attach or mount it on any shoe. With respect to kids, they can attach the Stride Sensor on their school shoes and that would suffice.
Similarly, the activity trackers are aesthetically appealing, skin-friendly, and lightweight. It’s as simple as wearing a watch, the only difference being, it’s a smart one and seamlessly syncs your data to the application. We are sure students will love it.
As far as making changes in the product to suit the environment is concerned, we’ve already achieved that with the universal design and functionality of both the hardware and the software. Our products are compatible with almost every wearable technology and suited to various environments.
What kind of thought process when into balancing the hardware and software components of this system?
At Boltt, we aimed to prioritize functionality and portability. We wanted the users to like our products for how they look and wear them for what they do. The hardware, smart shoes, and smart bands are functional and stylish. The smart shoes have been designed keeping athletes in mind. Everything from design to the material used that went in making the shoe is put together to facilitate effortless training/running and optimal performance. The smart band is lightweight, skin-friendly, and comes in several colors.
The app is our secret sauce, really! At Boltt, we followed a very modular approach while developing it. The app is independent, and while using it with Boltt smart wearables it’s ideal, it’s also 100% compatible with other wearables and apps as well. We understand that every user and athlete has different gear requirements, so we designed the Stride Sensor and app in such a way that they can function independently and perfectly fit into the gear and apps the user/athlete is already using.