Interview with the Chief Executive Officer of LifeBEAM, who is on a mission to make personal wellness more accessible to everyone

People who exercise regularly and wish to keep track of a variety of data, including the number of steps they take, their heart rate, the distance they travel, and the number of calories they burn, will find that biometric headphones are an excellent investment. According to a survey that was just published by Juniper Research a few days ago, it is anticipated that the number of hearable gadgets in use will increase from their present level of 43 million to 285 million by the year 2022. This is an almost sevenfold increase from the previous number.

The next step for biometric headphones and wearables in general is to move beyond simply displaying health metrics and provide analysis of data in addition to information that can be used to take action. This will be a step that will be a step up from simply having extensive data at your disposal. Here is where the LifeBEAM Vi comes into play.

These biometric buds are true AI personal trainers that learn more about you with each session and gradually become more customized to your needs. The wearable device observes your routines and then offers guidance and inspiration to keep you committed to your exercise routine.

In order to gain further insight into Vi and the direction in which the company is moving, I had a conversation with Omri Yoffe, the CEO and co-founder of LifeBEAM.

LifeBEAM was established in 2011, and its first products consisted of helmets with embedded sensors that measured blood flow and heart rate. They did not switch to using biometric headphones until much later in their history.

Yoffe has stated that the company’s goal is to make personal wellness more accessible to people all across the world.

LifeBEAM was established in the beginning with the primary purpose of rescuing pilots and astronauts during combat flights and other space-related endeavors. The technology was initially supplied to NASA and the Air Force with the intention of measuring the biometrics of pilots and astronauts and providing them with real-time verbal feedback on how their bodies were performing. After achieving this objective, we came to the realization that we had a much larger and more aspirational chance to affect the lives of millions of people by adapting the technology to the consumer market.

Today, our goal is to make personal wellness more accessible to people all over the world through the use of artificial intelligence and voice computing. Vi is a voice-and text-activated trainer for the body and mind that we have developed in order to assist users in achieving their desired levels of physical health and fitness.

The hardware that comes standard on the Vi is all quite recent and cutting-edge. Optical heart rate sensors are embedded in each earbud, together with an accelerometer and a six-axis gyroscope. These three components make up the “under the hood” hardware. Vi does not have a GPS receiver built in, but it can pull readings from your smartphone if you choose to do so.

Voice commands are what are used to activate the capabilities of the smart buds. For instance, if you ask Vi, “How am I doing?” she will provide an up-to-date summary of your current numbers, but if you ask her to “step to the beat,” she will activate her cadence coaching capabilities. In addition, because it has a battery life of eight hours, you can listen to your favourite music and converse on the phone without having to touch any of the buttons.

Because of these two primary factors, the information that is required to power Vi may be obtained from the inner ear in the greatest quantity and quality of any other part of the body. First, you have a way that is almost invasive to accurately measure the biometrics of the body (heart rate, heart rate variability, saturation, motion, skin temperature, and more), and second, you have the ability to deliver an intimate hand/eyes-free voice interaction in your ear, without the need to touch or look at a screen. This is possible because there is no need to touch the device or look at the screen.

Vi is one of the first pioneers to genuinely produce a hearable that is more than just a “cool gadget”—it is both practical and beneficial. The term “hearables” (also known as inner ear commuters) is becoming more and more popular, and inner ear commuters are one type of hearable.

Because they are typically worn on the wrist, we think of fitness trackers when we picture wristbands. But it is a little-known truth that earbuds, as opposed to watches, tend to be the most accurate heart-rate monitors, with traditional chest straps being the only thing that can beat them in terms of performance. Yoffe is in agreement.

This is a very valid point, and I encourage your audience to put Vi through its paces by putting it up against an ECG chest belt and other wrist-based monitoring devices now on the market.

Yoffi continues by saying that the rationale for this is not complicated at all. Blood flow in the head region is, by a few magnitudes, more powerful and consistent than the blood flow in the wrist, which is a relatively peripheral area that is a significant distance from the heart. This indicates that the amount of biometric information that can be extracted from the ear is significantly greater. In addition, the ear is much less sensitive to motion, which presents a significant challenge for wrist-based devices, which are frequently subjected to waving hands during exercise or just general day-to-day movement. The ear also has a much larger surface area than the wrist, which makes it easier for it to detect motion.

Back in 2016, LifeBEAM decided to turn to crowdfunding as a means of supporting the development of the headphones. As a result of their efforts, the company was able to raise a staggering $1.7 million. We’ve all heard about some horrible stories about crowdfunding, but Vi is the complete opposite of those stories. They give the impression of being products of the second or third generation rather than those of the first generation of crowdfunded gadgets.

In my opinion, crowdsourcing was one of the most intelligent and useful tools that our organization has encountered to this point in time. We actually turned to Kickstarter less for the financial element and much more for the purpose of acquiring good market validation and community partners, who would educate us on whether or not Vi should be designed.

We put our devoted community through a very open and honest process of creation, and we are extremely grateful to them for their capacity to participate in Vi’s development, testing, and voting up until the point where we established a fully functional commercial product.

The data that can be obtained from fitness trackers and smartwatches is quite useful. However, the majority of the time, it is up to the user to sort through the numbers and arrive at conclusions that are important to them. Wearable technology businesses will increasingly need to close that gap in order to maintain their competitive edge. This is where Vi really comes into her own. In essence, they function as true artificial intelligence coaches that improve with each use and get to know the consumer better.

Vi, in a manner analogous to that of a human trainer, will spend two hours learning your patterns (goals, BMI, heart rate threshold, step rate, activity level, intensity preferences). After that, and only then, will she begin to provide you with individualized advice, along with delivering you a personal training plan that is individualized to your selected goals.

The buds connect to your Spotify account and make workout playlist recommendations in addition to playing audio beats to keep you on pace, so that you may burn more fat or prevent becoming fatigued. In addition, there are a few niggling particulars that go a long way toward making this feel like a one-of-a-kind adventure. For instance, Vi will frequently begin sessions with a “pick-up” remark that is relevant to your particular situation, such as the current weather, what you did during your previous session, or what she recommends you do today. She even checks to see if she’s saying your name correctly by asking you to repeat it after her!

LIFEBEAM Vi

At the moment, these headphones stand out from the crowd in a number of important respects. This is because they combine the functions of a tracker, earbuds, and a trainer into a single piece of equipment. You will receive a premium pair of headphones with sound from Harman Kardon, a fully equipped fitness device that can track your heart rate, motion and posture, elevation, temperature, weather, and activity stats, and a free coaching programme that provides personalized information.

Yoffe claims that in addition to the device itself, you are also developing software that learns your priorities and routines and develops alongside you over time. in a manner somewhat dissimilar to that of a human personal trainer.

A recent update to the device’s firmware included the inclusion of a treadmill mode, new voice commands, off-training notifications, step count and heart rate zone insights, and other features. The following two months will see a number of planned updates, some of which will include social training, more step-to-beat tracks, individualized training plans emailed to you via email, and split data. In the latter half of 2018, LifeBEAM intends to roll out new features, including guided mindfulness sessions and all-day wellness counseling.

Extremely high levels of shopper contentment have been reported with these buds. Clearly, there is a lot to appreciate about this. According to Yoffe, the primary cause of this is the high quality of the hardware (sound, battery life, tracker, and aesthetics). He goes on to say that after a user has experienced Vi for the first time, they realize that she is not just another generic audio coach or piece of software, and they are energized by the fact that this is a different kind of encounter.

We have a genuine sense that there is more to our purpose than simply developing innovative technology. If Vi maintains her current rate of development, we believe she will be a major catalyst for the democratization of personal health and fitness at a price point that is significantly lower than that of the human and technological offerings that are currently accessible.

These days, computers aren’t confined to our workstations or even our pockets. They are presently being shown on our bodies with great pride, and one day they will be united with our bodies. According to LifeBEAM’s findings, the ears have the potential to become the industry’s next major growth area. We are currently putting the Vi headphones through their paces, so stay tuned for a comprehensive review in the next few weeks.

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