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Interview with Boltt’s Founders talking about their AI-powered fitness platform

arnav-kishore-boltt-ceo

Boltt aims to show the big guns in fitness market on how to make fitness tracking is useful for enthusiasts. The interview highlights the vision of the founders of the startup that feels fitness tracking should not be limited to numbers and data, but should extend itself to advising fitness enthusiasts and sportsmen with real, actionable advice that is unique and generated based on the data for that particular user.

Talk of any fitness trackers, you know which brand to look up to. A couple of names that would come to anyone’s mind are Fitbit and Garmin. But what else do they do more than recording the number of steps, or tracking your sleep? This large gap of tracking and then offering advises based on that, is yet to be fulfilled and that is what Boltt is trying to do. The founders Arnav Kishore and Aayushi Kishore together envisioned the idea, and while Arnav has been a national tennis champion at the age of 10, Aayushi, an Economics Hons Graduate has an experience in product development, retail/online operations and branding and sales, and that is what she’s handling at Boltt.

arnav-kishore-boltt-ceo

Arnav Kishore tells us that the idea of integrating AI and fitness wearables was conceptualized about 18 months ago when I took upon myself to re-invent what it meant to lead a healthy life. We have envisioned Boltt as a Game Changer bringing together wearables and artificial intelligence to create a connected ecosystem of guided fitness, as the means to empower people to improve their health and lifestyle. The realization was that by only tracking steps or aiming for a 10,000 /day step goal, people will not move an inch at becoming fitter. The founding team was driven to find the perfect harmony between hardware and software, that truly added meaning to one’s life.

Data & Numbers are boring, but using data to provide knowledge, information, insights and choice is empowering. Boltt is here to usher in a new era of ‘The Connected Life’ at the core of which are beautiful products that do all the work for the user. All the user needs to do is wear them and their life will never be the same again.

In the interview below, we had a great discuss around Sports, fitness, trackers, and the idea of Artificial intelligence solving the problems of tracking and interacting with the users who are tired of just the basic step tracking.

Chetan Bhawani: Do you think the sportsmen or real fitness enthusiasts will buy the idea of spending time interacting with AI and learning about their fitness progress?

Arnav: Sports and fitness is a profession for me now, but it has always been a passion for me. At an age of 14, I was an International circuit tennis player and I have trained for several marathons. To be honest, Boltt is born out of my own experiences with fitness gadgets, I have tried them all. As fitness enthusiasts, we are more committed to tracking our fitness and staying true to our goals.

But even as the more aware lot, the data that is thrown at us is not always comprehensible. Plus, what most fitness trackers track is the activity mode, but there’s also a corresponding recovery mode that plays an equal part in your fitness. As our AI will integrate these two modes and put forth more informed insights, we are certain it will be meaningful for everyone.

Chetan Bhawani: Nike and Adidas are the first brands that are known to do something in the smart footwear arena. How do you think the smart shoes that you are building, will keep up against these? Is it because of some better USPs or is it because you are targeting Indian users where these brands haven’t advertised their smart products much?

Aayushi Kishore
Aayushi Kishore

Aayushi: We are not just targeting India; we will be launching in 13 countries in total. We are the only start-up from India to be showcasing at The Pirate Summit at Cologne, Germany. We are also going to make our global brand announcement at Tech Disrupt, San Francisco. Now, coming to the smart shoe part. Boltt has partnered with Garmin, the world pioneer in wearable sensors. Together we are working on unique sensor forms that capture all forms of body data (mechanical and cardiovascular), most intuitively. These form factors are aimed to make technology pervasive by interweaving it into the users’ daily life.
The shoe is embedded with a device made of advanced Sensors that calculate realtime bio mechanical data on speed, distance, cadence, stride sensing, sports tracking and transmits them via Bluetooth to the user’s smart phone.

The device uses MEMS (Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems) accelerometers, advanced digital signal processing techniques and patented algorithms to analyze 3D foot acceleration and capture a runner’s unique stride. The Sensors are based on a 3 accelerometer system, instead of the conventional two, that tracks a much fuller motion of the shoe, tracking the metrics both longitudinally and vertically.

The resulting device is smart and lightweight, giving best–in–class accuracy of 97% and realtime insights into the mechanics of how you run! The data is interpreted by the Boltt App, which gives you real time AI coaching while you run and work out. I think it’s safe to say we are definitely making a difference.

Boltt Wearable Band

Chetan Bhawani: By the looks of it, you are targeting only the athletes and running enthusiasts and not the regular consumers who’ve been using one of the fitness trackers and keeping a track of their daily progress? The technology you are using will be an overkill for regular users?

Arnav: Fitness myths are being busted every single day. We have really ripped fifty-year old’s with unmatched upper body strength, we have unbelievably flexible pre-teens and even 70-year-old marathoners. We recognize and celebrate the fitness diversity today. And Boltt’s fitness ecosystem is for all.

The Journey to achieving the best health and great fitness is not easy. Boltt intends to change that by helping consumers through this journey with Motivation, Science and Personalized Guidance, which is fun and interactive.

Here’s how Boltt eliminates the challenges we face in our course of fitness:

  1. Insufficient Motivation & Lack of Willpower
    – Boltt AI coach, is built to motivate, guide, inspire you to perform your best
    – While talking to you during your workouts, it urges you to keep at it and not give up
    – The Boltt coach is with you through-out the day, in times of training, performance, sleeping, activity and meals!
    – It ensures that you always train at the right intensity level to improve your performance
    – Boltt- In- ear coaching gives you real time feedback to help you optimize each session
  2. Lack of correct guidance: Fitness Experts Who Don’t Actually Coach
    – From scientific training plans, developed in partnership with expert trainers, Boltt workouts will guide you most accurately
  3. Working Out is Boring
    – With Boltt Interactive, we make working out real fun! We are talking about fun interaction with your own data.
    – Fun workouts that will make you want to train
  4. Fitness Guidance is not personalised
    – Boltt, gives the user personalized feedback basis their performance
    – It helps the user to set INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL goals and guides on how to achieve them
    – Caters to amateurs and pros alike
    – What works best for high-performance athletes may not work for body builders. What works for body builders may not work for your average business professional or student who only has 3-4 hours a week to work out: WE AT BOLTT GET THAT
  5. Lack of awareness about your own body data
    – Most people are unaware about their body data. You can’t improve what you can’t measure, data matters
    – While data gives us a reality check, it’s equally important to decipher the action points, the gaps and goals from that data. That’s where Boltt’s AI enabled analysis and guidance comes into play
  6. Lack of knowledge of correct form and posture and technique -can lead to injury or over burn
    – Boltt advises on the correct running technique, form and posture, with emphasis on Injury Prevention
  7. Lack of a Proper Routine & Lack of Time
    – Boltt has a special collection of ‘Short and effective workouts
    – Boltt encourages you to make a routine with its scheduled training plans
    – Boltt becomes your 24*7 personal trainer at home and you don’t need to hit the Gym

Chetan Bhawani: AI, as for what we’ve seen till now, is more about a robotic figure interacting with you. That won’t take away the personal touch that a regular coach might be giving?

Arnav: If the AI is perceived as being artificial, it will not sustain for long. So it has to interact and communicate with its user in a very human like way. Humans are meant to talk to humans and interact so we are focusing on this part and we are trying to cover all aspects of AI in terms of giving it that one personality.
Aayushi: The Boltt Health and Fitness Expert Panel that has helped nurture and enhance the AI, is a host of experienced and learned people from all the specialized aspects of Training and Health & Fitness that we aim to serve. Boltt today has aboard, a set of influencers and advisers ranging from Marathoners, Tri-Athletes, Data Scientists, world renowned Biokineticists, Nutritionists and Sleep Experts from across the globe, who are helping to achieve the ambitious mission at hand.

Chetan Bhawani: What would be the first line of products you are coming up with? And what’s going to be in the pipeline for the near future?

Aayushi: In next 60 days, we are launching a Smart Shoe and a range of Smart Bands, coupled with their companion AI coach apps that will scientifically improve running, track and further Fitness levels and show the consumer their health in a whole new way.

On the hardware front, we have already started working on different wearable form factors like a smart shirt and other fashion accessories which will be launched in the future.
We also plan to adapt the extension of our product technology to various business services in the near future such as:

  • Sports analysis – A platform that will enhance sports performance in different sports like running, soccer and hockey. Using Boltt’s inventive offerings coaches and players can review, plan and analyse field performance.
  • Corporate wellness – Platform for increasing employee health and productivity.
  • Smart Physical Education -Tech enabled solutions to enhance fitness levels in young school children
  • Group Fitness – Platform for monitoring group fitness activities in gyms and health institutions.

Chetan Bhawani: Based on what we’ve heard till now, the emphasis is more on the software rather than on hardware. Is it so because hardware isn’t really different on most of the options available in the market?

Arnav: If you look at any good examples in the market today, companies that are into wearables, I think one thing every company today is lacking is the influence part. And you’ll keep on hearing this from us because that is something we deeply believe in. So, all the wearables have the capability to collect the data. But people are not able to adapt to this technology right now, because the data is presented in a very fragmented way and you don’t really know how to make sense of it on a daily basis.

We wanted to go one step further to that and while AI does sound very exciting and futuristic, it is a black hole that we are trying to enter. It’s a space that people have not yet explored completely and this era standing into 2016 there are very few and limited example of well implemented AI in general. AI in general has not progressed to its entire peak. So, when we have tried to discover what AI can do, we get amazed and blown away by the capabilities of what all a computer can solve, much more capable than a human mind. And that’s why the emphasis on software.

Chetan Bhawani: Is it only running / walking that the offerings from Boltt will track? Any plans to get into tracking based on sports?

As we mentioned earlier, Boltt wearables track way more than steps and provide a fuller activity picture to the users by tracking realtime bio mechanical data on speed, distance, cadence, stride sensing and sports tracking.

The Boltt Stride Sensor which is embedded in our smart shoe is based on Dynastream’s Max 35 technology platform in association with Garmin, providing best in class stride sensor accuracy. The Sensors are based on a 3D accelerometer system that has several advantages, it tracks a much fuller motion of the shoe, tracking the metrics both longitudinally and vertically.

We are building a solution that will analyse data from wearable’s and provide real-time feedback by displaying essential metrics of training and well-being, for a player. We have already made the associations with an advance sports platform for Soccer and our smart physical education platform. We intend to revolutionize the way athletes train in Football, by utilising the best technology and a vision to watch Indian soccer players achieve their true potential.

We are also making similar associations for AI tracking and training for cricket, rugby and hockey players and coaches.

Chetan Bhawani: Is the future all about AI in fitness tracking devices, or will the intelligence venture into other fields of fitness and health care?

Arnav: We are working on predictive analysis and disease management programs aiming to cater the healthcare industry through our data insights, but that’s long term.

Boltt Wearables is currently showcasing its products at the TechCrunch Disrupt event.

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