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CES 2016: IBM announces Watson as a personal fitness coach

IBM’s Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometti announced at CES 2016 several new Watson initiatives aimed at the consumer fitness & health market.

Watson is IBM’s technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Watson is capable of answering questions posed in natural language, and is seen as a cognitive system enabling a new partnership between people and computers.

Watson was developed in IBM's Deep QA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci and is named after IBM's first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson.

The news signals the rapid adoption of Watson technology by consumers and to illustrate this, announced that Under Armour and IBM have developed a new cognitive coaching system. Watson, will serve as a personal health consultant, fitness trainer and assistant by providing athletes with timely, evidence-based coaching about health and fitness-related issues. Where Watson differs from other systems is that it determines outcomes achieved based on others "like you." It integrates IBM Watson's technology with the data from Under Armour's Connected Fitness community - a vast digital health and fitness community of more than 160 million members.

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.

“When it comes to digital health and fitness tracking, the past ten years have been about data collection,” said Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, in a statement.

“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…”