Ria uses data obtained from HealthifyMe's 150 million tracked meals, in addition to 10 million messages exchanged through its platform — web or mobile

Health and fitness start-up HealthifyMe is set to roll out a nutrition and fitness service, called Project Amadeus, which is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

The service named “Ria” is similar to Apple's Siri or Google's Assistant, but will answer questions on fitness and nutrition through audio or text messages.

While some start-ups have been trying to use technology to solve these kinds of problems, most of them seem to not have made much headway.

“All apps lack adherence and accountability as a result of which people do not consistently use them,” said Tushar Vashisht, co-founder CEO of HealthifyMe, who also was one of the early team members of Aadhaar under Nandan Nilekani. To overcome this, Ria uses data obtained from HealthifyMe's 150 million tracked meals, in addition to 10 million messages exchanged through its platform — web or mobile.

HealthifyMe has 200 coaches and charges ₹999-₹1,699 every month but Vashisht feels that using AI he can scale business faster. According to estimates, India has around one lakh certified nutritionists.

India faces dual challenges of lack of qualified nutritionists and a rising obesity burden. In spite of health and wellbeing as priority, one-third of the Indians over 30 years suffer from lifestyle diseases, according to a Goqii ‘India Fit’ 2017 report.

Goqii makes a wearable device and offers health coaching services.

While technology with its attractive User Interface and design is wooing users, by and large, a humans innate desire to talk to a nutritionist or a fitness coach seems to come in the way of growth of these ventures.

“The challenge continues to be around how the app will know a person’s fitness commitment,” said Amaresh Ojha, Founder of Gympik.

Interestingly, AI is raising concerns such as the recent incidents wherein Facebook was forced to shut down after it was discovered that machines invented its own language.

Additionally, a new global study released by Nasadaq-listed Pegasystems pointed out that consumers are open to the promise of AI-powered customer experiences but need more transparency, data privacy, and a human-like touch to feel more comfortable with machine-powered interactions.

Current AI experiences are falling short of consumers’ expectations and many respondents said they don’t think AI delivers the same or better service than humans can today, the report added.

However, Vashisht believes that HealthifyMe's experience enabled it to get 3 million users.

Further, HealthifyMe plans to roll out this AI service in other emerging markets in Asia.

Vashisht said that the company could be profitable in the next year.

(This article was published on October 13, 2017)

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