FitTech Insider

When will the integration of fitness data create personalized user experiences, Jane Smorodnikova?

Trackers and wearables aggregate tons of fitness data. Transforming them into a personalized fitness experience for the users means tons of work - and will only work if the data-approach is open, says Jane Smorodnikova (Founder of Welltory).

We have different strategies for data: we have the closed strategy, we have the open strategy, could you tell me a bit more about this?
Each hardware developer chooses his own strategy about his data. We can see some guys really focused on a proprietary strategy. WHOOP and a lot of other players have some combination of it. So they have some open API's and some closed API's in some Apps. And there are guys who just offer some API's only for partners like Samsung, Huawei or Apple Health. What you can see in less than the last seven years: Players with the closed strategy don't allow third party developers to create and add some value to their platform. They can go past in the beginning, because you buy this, it looks like something secret, something for special people. It works when they use it for influencer marketing. But then in the long term: When you buy an Apple Watch, you just get more value. That's the point. That's why I believe that you cannot be in the market in a long term without an open platform.

You're also saying that currently, the integration between health and fitness is quite a hard challenge. Why?
If you get into integrations with different apps and gadgets, it's just a mess. There are no standards, no formats, nothing. And the amount of work you need to do to integrate, aggregate, normalize, put in one transform to the one format is enormous. If you want to build something like a holistic approach, like comprehends to build a comprehensive lifestyle model that includes your environment, your health behavior, your fitness behavior or your book squares, you will face a lot, of huge challenges to aggregate this data and build some logical model out of this.
There are several Start-ups who are trying to provide such services for different companies. What they do: they have to simplify all this data in such scale that for guys who really try to make sense of the data. But on the other hand, there is this biopsychosocial model that actually allows you to build all the confounders on of our health. And there are no standards about this. It's so complicated that I don't see it can be solved easily for a lot of players. In the next five years, we are doing this.

So there's no current solution for full data profiling right now on both health and fitness sides, because it's just way too complicated - and too expensive?
Yes. There is no easy way to get some profit from it easily. So that's why I do believe that the next five years we will see more niche and focused approaches to special segments for special methods, like for special fitness styles or special practices.

That’s what Welltory is doing differently than everyone else?
We are going to the opposite. We don't have a special segment. We are method-agnostic. We are building this holistic approach from like 1000s of parameters. And we have this science department who work on this, too. If you have investors who can influence your decisions, or you have profit as the main goal of your company, he just will not support this because it's crazy.

Why did you choose this wide approach?
Because if you have the goal to build a personalized preventive health solution, you need to go for a wide audience that is not health conscious yet and not sick yet. You need to find a solution that will help these people who have bad retention rates in all usual fitness apps. You need to find a solution that will work for them. For example, Apple Watch works for them. It doesn't require you to be super health conscious, it doesn't require you to have a special disease. It just gets into your life without pushing you to something.

Do you have any numbers on retention on your side?
For people with an Apple Watch, we have engagement rates like Netflix. Daily active users versus monthly active users is more than 40 per cent. That's what entertainment apps have.

So Apple Watch users are your best users in a way?
Actually, it's not because of Apple Watch users. It's because we have built a special integration that allows us to understand how our user feels without asking him only for Apple Watch for now. We will launch a partnership with Samsung this summer. But for now, it's just Apple Watch.

What's your vision of data integrations in the fitness space for the next couple of years?
For the next couple of years, we will see more health biomarkers that will become available for everybody. Apple Watch, Samsung watch, etc. will start to monitor your blood glucose level. It will open new markets. They will also start to monitor blood pressure in the background. I think that where we will get is like maybe more specialization. Somebody will be focused on a certain signal and deliver value on top of that. It's like Spotify or Netflix. Coaches and trainers are like authors of the music or films. You will have a lot of niche practices, approaches, programs, etc. And somebody will be able to make sense from all this data to create a personalized experience for the user.