Under Armour and IBM to transform personal health and fitness, powered by IBM Watson

January 7, 2016 by Holli Haswell
On January 6, 2016 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, IBM and UnderArmour announced plans to create UA Record with a Cognitive Coaching System, a Watson-powered app that will serve as a personal health consultant. Credit: Under Armour

Today Under Armour announced a strategic partnership with IBM to create and provide meaningful data-backed health and fitness insights, powered by IBM Watson's cognitive computing technology. Under Armour's new UA Record combined with a Cognitive Coaching System will serve as a personal health consultant, fitness trainer and assistant by providing athletes with timely, evidence-based coaching around your sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition, including outcomes achieved based on others "like you."

As envisioned, 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 programs, including: Personal, Physiological and Behavioral data; Nutrition (pulled from the world's largest nutritional database); Expert Training Knowledge; and Environmental factors. These insights will initially be available within UA Record available now on the App Store.

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 today – that are JUST LIKE YOU. The UA Record app will share health and fitness insights comparable to others similar to you, including average weight, average resting heart rate and average steps taken per day. Additional insights could show how long an average workout is or how long someone like you is sleeping, down to the minute.

Through the IBM partnership, Under Armour will add new capabilities over the next year that will allow the Cognitive Coaching System powered by IBM Watson to transform athlete engagement and motivation in the following areas:

  • Behavioral and Performance management: Based on Watson's ability to tap into users behavioral and performance trends tracked via existing Under Armour mobile apps and fitness-tracking devices, the system can customize programs.
  • Food intake tracking and overall nutrition management: Based on Watson Visual Recognition and Watson Discovery technology, the arduous and 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," said Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO, Under Armour. "We're now at a point where a shift is occurring and consumers are demanding more from this information. 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."

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

Explore further: Under Armour buys fitness app startups

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