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Under Armour taps IBM?s data-based tech for enhanced fitness app

Under Armour is leveraging IBM Watson?s cognitive computing technology to bolster its UA Record mobile health application with a slew of features, including evidence-based sleep coaching and data-backed fitness tips.

Under Armour is ramping up to include the latest data-first mobile initiatives in its app by enabling consumers to use their smartphones as personal health consultants. IBM Watson?s cognitive coaching system is set to evolve athlete management beyond its current capabilities as well as aid users in tracking their overall nutrition and food intake with an easier way of logging information.

"[Leveraging mobile technology] is critical,? said Chris Glode, vice president of digital at Under Armour, Denver, CO. ?Across connected fitness, the overwhelming majority of touchpoints with our users happen on mobile devices.

?At least 80 percent of people who join our platform are coming from mobile devices, so it?s hugely important.?

Mobile health consultant
Consumers nowadays are relying on their smartphones for a variety of tasks and advice, namely when it comes to measuring their health and fitness goals. Under Armour is marketing to that segment of active individuals by integrating IBM Watson?s data-backed fitness and health insights into the UA Record app.

IBM Watson makes up one of IBM?s three business units and was formed to foster the development of cognitive computing technologies that function as a form of artificial intelligence across various sectors.

It was IBM?s prowess in mobile and the Internet of Things that prompted the collaboration with Under Armour.

?Looking at what IBM has done with Watson in other categories, such as retail businesses and the acquisition of The Weather Company, the tech is really impressive in how we?ve seen it applied to other cases,? Mr. Glode said.

?The scale and leverage that IBM can bring us, as one of the world?s largest companies, gives us a ton of additional capability.?

Both companies will work together to create a slew of new app features, including evidence-based coaching centered on users? nutrition, sleep, activity and fitness habits. The app will also showcase results from other similar individuals, giving consumers the chance to see how they stack up among competitors.

For example, a male in his 40?s can click to see the statistics of 4.5 million other users just like him, who are currently enrolled in the database.

Available results for comparison can include average steps taken per day, average weight and average resting heart rate.

Consumers seeking to speed up their exercise routine or hit certain fitness goals may choose to view how long it takes others to complete the same workout.

?IBM?s cognitive coaching capabilities will be a positive value addition to Under Armour?s UA Record app,? said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta. ?With the ability to consult a health trainer based on your nutrition, sleep and fitness, customized due to IBM Watson?s data aggregation, this app would appear to be a new level of excellence for anyone wanting to compare their daily, weekly or monthly activity to others in their demographic. 

?This type of partnership is what the fitness world needs, and will not only help the fitness aspect of users, but also could heavily impact their health and medical to become a more proactive maintenance,? she said. 

?Strength comes in numbers. If users find out that what they are experiencing is normal to their demographic, it could cause less stress, and they could stop comparing themselves to their community, who in fact, may not be like them at all.?

Transforming athlete engagement
IBM Watson and Under Armour are also joining forces to evolve athlete management on mobile, thanks to Watson?s ability to leverage users? performance and behavioral trends from existing Under Armour apps. The system will be able to recommend customize programs to help consumers hit their goals.

Individuals wanting to monitor nutrition intake may use Watson?s visual recognition and discovery technology to tap on images of food for easier identification, removing the need to type each meal into the log.

Additionally, users can take advantage of the update UA Record app to find out how environmental factors and weather affect athlete training.

IBM?s cognitive coaching system will enable consumers to receive insights on four categories within the UA Record app: fitness, activity, sleep and nutrition. The revamped app?s heavy focus on data-backed information will likely have a spillover effect on the rest of the mobile health and fitness sector.

 ?Data collection sorted and distributed correctly has a very real and a very large role to play in the future of health and fitness apps,? Ms. Troutman said. ?As the world becomes more connected, and the users become more integrated with technology, this type of data could not only be life-saving, but could also add to the overall longevity of life expectancy.?