Business Today
Wear Your Coach

Wearables, especially watches, are all about fitness. Now, Google wants to throw in a special assistant.

Wear Your Coach

Wearables are always focussed on activity and fitness for want of something better to do. The ability to track in real time has opened up new opportunities for companies to tack on features based on the data from smartwatches, rings and even earbuds. Beem United's earbuds, for example, monitor heart rate so that with a glance at the companion app, you can pace yourself as desired. Soul Electronics goes a step further to keep tabs on how you are running by measuring cadence, stride and other parameters, which will enhance the routine. The company also leverages user data and artificial intelligence to give recommendations on running.

Smartwatches for mainstream consumers are also centred on fitness features, with Apple leading the way with Apple Watch. Of course, no outright coaching is involved here, but there are always encouraging messages to motivate a user to meet the day's target or keep up the exercise the next day. Some products such as homegrown Goqii smartband have a human coach assigned to each user. Discussions between the coach and the user (usually via e-mail and messengers) mostly include nutrition and exercise goals, but some extensive advice is also provided.

Now, Google is planning to put a coaching feature into its next watch, according to the website AndroidPolice. Referred to as Google Coach, for now, it will come up with smart notifications based on a user's exercise and eating patterns. Given that Google already has so much data on its users, it can undoubtedly develop algorithms to make suggestions that will be more than ordinarily useful because these will be extremely personalised.

For example, if a user missed a workout on a particular day or for several days, the Coach could give specific advice on appropriate workouts to ease her back into the exercise routine. Although details are sketchy at this point, it is not difficult to envisage how proactive suggestions will work. Sleeping late could be corrected by encouraging a better rest pattern. Logging one's food intake could also generate better diet choices. Entire meal plans for the week can also be made as Google is often aware of the user's calendar. In case you use Google Tasks and Reminders, it will even know your task list for the day and sync the same with daily activity and health plans.

Not everyone would take kindly to being nagged by technology to do something in a certain way and get constant advice and suggestions via notifications, even if these are clubbed into manageable chunks. On the other hand, many people may welcome the help. According to AndroidPolice, this feature could be extended beyond the smartwatch to smartphones, Google Home speakers and television.

Foldable, Holdable

Companies, even the most innovative of them, have run out of new things to do with smartphones. When the new flagships are launched every year, there is disappointment all around at the lack of radical new designs and features. Maybe it is the right time for someone to finally come up with that elusive foldable phone that has been discussed for years.

There have been flip phones before, but the foldable phone of not-too-distant future is meant to be much more than a screen, a small keyboard and a hinge in the middle. It may even have a foldable screen, an idea more associated with Samsung than with anyone else. Samsung wants to be the first off the mark to make that phone and D.J. Koh, head of Samsung Mobiles, has confirmed as much by saying that the company not only wants to come up with a world-first but spark off a new line instead of a one-off.

Several concepts have been featured on the Internet to predict the possible form a Samsung folding phone might take (one is expected to be launched later this year), but no one, not even Samsung, thinks such a phone will have mass appeal because of its pricing. It is bound to cost a fortune, thanks to the cost of manufacturing. But then, a folding phone with two large, bright displays could be used to boost productivity, multitask, make gaming more exciting or handle phone cameras in more interesting ways.

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