The Voice of Healthcare - Episode 8
Duration: 22 minutes, 16 seconds
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Bradley Metrock: Hi and welcome back to The Voice of Healthcare, Episode 8 for December 2017. I'm thrilled to be joined once again by my co-host, Dr. Matt Cybulsky. Matt, say hello.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: Hello everyone, good to be back Bradley. Always happy to be here talking about voice language tech and what's happening.
Bradley Metrock: Matt, thank you for joining me. This is a pleasure. A lot of fun. Our guest on the show today, Omri Yoffe. Am I pronouncing that right?
Omri Yoffe: That's correct sir. How are you guys?
Bradley Metrock: I'm doing great, Omri. Share with us a little bit. You've got a fascinating background. Let's just start here. Share with us a little bit about your background and lead us up to LifeBEAM and rolling out the AI Based Personal Trainer.
Omri Yoffe: Sure thing, it's a pleasure to be with you guys and for us refreshing and inspiring to see a new force that is pushing Voice First products. So, well done. In a few words, my name is Omri, born in Israel and in the U.S. for the last few years. I started as a pilot of the Israeli Air Force and became an entrepreneur. LifeBEAM, in a nutshell, started from delivering lifesaving products for pilots and astronauts. Basically, measuring their body metrics and delivering them voice and visual alerts to get them out of fairly risky situations.
Omri Yoffe: And Vi, which is the product that we're going to speak on today, is basically a new chapter that is using discord technology and using voice and machine intelligence for the consumer domain. Basically, democratizing personal fitness and giving people the ability to know their body better and to get to their personal goals. It's about losing weight, running their first 5K or doing a mindfulness session.
Bradley Metrock: Very cool. I've had the chance to get hands on with Vi, the world's first AI Personal Trainer which is the flagship product of Omri's company, LifeBEAM, and I can tell you it is a lot of fun and it's such a glimpse into the future. It's hard for me to describe what it looks like. It's essentially a set of earphones connected to a neck piece, is how I would phrase it, that goes around your neck. The ear buds, the earphones, are attached to it and you put them in your ear. And this head wear is then connected via Bluetooth to your smartphone which has downloaded an app that LifeBEAM has provided. Through this set of equipment you can monitor your heartbeat and you can have a Vi in your ear challenging you to increase the cadence of your steps and giving you real time information with your voice, asking what is my heartbeat and having the ability to use your voice to get health information in real time. Omri, am I describing that right or am I leaving something out?
Omri Yoffe: No, absolutely. In very short, it is an AI trainer for your body and mind. Her name is Vi and she lives within biosensing earphones which is signed by Harman/Kardon. It is similar to the regular Beats, Bose or LG Neckbands that you guys know from other consumer products. With one huge difference, she uses different sensors in your voice based experience to basically communicate with you as a humanized personal trainer towards your goal.
Bradley Metrock: [00:04:01] Perfect, and yeah the thing is such a pleasure. It's packaged really really well. When you open it up it's very intuitive what to do with it. There's some customization in terms of how the different ear cushions, there's different little cushions that you can put in depending on the size of your ear, so you get it sized right and then it's off and running. It's a real pleasure. And like I said the biggest joy of it for me, aside from just the immediate practicality, was just how much of a sign of things to come that it really is. So, hats off to you Omri and your team. The product I believe retails for 250 dollars. Is that right?
Omri Yoffe: [00:04:45] That's correct. Being retailed on the dotcom and Amazon mainly and running our team to some other great channels very soon.
Bradley Metrock: [00:04:53] For people listening to the podcast I encourage you to Google Vi Personal Trainer and take a look at what this thing looks like. It's very interesting. Omri, share with me the process that you and your team walked through in designing this piece of hardware and how it ended up looking and feeling the way that it looks and feels.
Omri Yoffe: [00:05:14] It's critical to understand why we do what we do and our mission and our passion is basically democratizing personal fitness and health. In other words, how can we literally download human intelligence and human mimics into a technology play that will eventually not be an ad or a cool tech product, but it will enable people all around the world to get better fitness and better health using voice into their ear.
Omri Yoffe: [00:05:41] Practically speaking, we are very experienced with what we call hearable form factors. Our core IP started from measuring biosensing from the inner ear and heart rate, heart rate variability of surgination, motion and more. Voice and machine intelligence or AI, a little bit of an abused word these days, was starting to emerge about two years ago. We saw a huge opportunity to basically use our core tech and build our own full stack technology that can take human knowledge and getting it into an ear phones product.
Omri Yoffe: [00:06:20] What we did is basically two main efforts. On the hardware level, we created a consumer level product and when we say democratizing it means we didn't want to force people to use new form factors. So, people like ear phones, people need them to speak over the phone and to hear music. So we asked our self, can we get free to live within a very common functional and beneficial form factors such as the ear phones that you're holding in your hands. We partnered with Harman/Kardon. So, on the voice level you will get a great practical beneficial experience and edit the biometrics and voice recognition sensors that we have developed into the ear phone itself, number one.
Omri Yoffe: [00:07:01] Number two, is we have created a persona. We took the world's best personal trainers, nutrition experts and sleep experts. Basically, recorded them over a year and downloaded their human mimics and the human practices on how to get people in shape. If it's about losing weight or running your first 5K, then what we did is we created a full humanized port. Basically, whole sets of logics that Vi will ask you a few questions from how to say your name to what are your goals.
Omri Yoffe: [00:07:34] She will start being much more adaptive and much more personalized and I warmly welcome you to maybe use some audio files for our audience over the podcast or maybe people can just go to getvi.com and hear it. It's a very different audio experience than a regular TS text to speech robotic voice.
Bradley Metrock: [00:07:54] It intrigues me how all of us are on this frontier together and we're all learning new insights and best practices as far as voice first development and voice technology are concerned. My question for you Omri is, when you put the prototype of the product together and you shifted into the testing phase, share with me a little bit about how you guys tested the product. How you constructed focus groups and what you were looking for out of focus groups or if you did any of that at all or if you just sort of tested it on a very limited basis. How did you get comfortable moving out of the prototype stage into saying okay we're going to ride with this as our final version of the product?
Omri Yoffe: [00:08:46] Sure. So first of all we like to fail fast. I think the idea was to take our creative team out there. We're trying to have a very lean, aggressive testing methodology to make sure that we are learning fast and obviously know that we don't know everything and trying to test and iterate with actual users on the fly on a weekly basis.
Omri Yoffe: [00:09:11] Practically speaking, what we did is the following. We went for Kickstarter about a year ago for exactly the purpose that you just mentioned. We felt that there are enough passionate, committed people out there that are interested not just in backing another product, but about testing and giving their insights throughout the development process. Vi was kickstarted and was the most funded fitness wearable ever back in Q4 2016. The minute after we finished a crowdfunding project, we then established a very transparent and very committed group of beta testers that helped us to go through this process from surveys, to more adverse experiences, to just the actual form factor itself.
Omri Yoffe: [00:09:56] Today, we have a great group of investors that are telling us what we're doing wrong and where we can be better. You're asking, I think, the most important question because no one did this before. lots of things that we thought we knew, we didn't, including by the way specific targeted audiences and different types of areas that are less on the tech level and more about messaging and content. So this is absolutely one of our key growth factors to keep engaged with our beta testers on an ongoing basis.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: [00:10:30] Yeah, I'm really curious to go more down into the behavioral modifications that are built into this tool. Can you talk, I mean I like to work out, I hire trainers regularly, travel a lot for work and I'll even hire them in various cities I'm in. But something like this would be fantastic, right. So like I can sensibly use this instead of you know going to a gym, signing up, monthly memberships but it would keep me motivated, keep track of what I'm doing, give me workout sets.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: [00:10:58] Can you give us a little bit of detail about what is some of the behavior modification tools that are built into this and how does it influence the fitness person into getting into shape or maintaining shape etc?
Omri Yoffe: [00:11:12] So, I think there are two main pillars over here. The first one is humanity, which I will know at the human level and emotional level aspect and the second is context. On the human level, it sounds a bit creepy but it's absolutely not. It's something that is very natural, but most users didn't like it. We started with PTS Voices. We started with fully robotic voices about a year ago and we found out that on the behavior level it's not resonating with many types of people. We are still looking for the full emotional, funny, surprising, imperfect voice level to move their body and minds. When I say move it's not only to move them physically, but also move them emotionally and on the motivational aspect.
Omri Yoffe: [00:11:57] So we invested tons of time and money in making sure that we are hitting the goal of opening the emotional range and the imperfections of these voices and these personalities. After we did it, we saw a very solid improvement in people's ability to engage with the product, number one.
Omri Yoffe: [00:12:18] Number two is context. Think about dating someone, don't think about technology, think about building relationship and trust. How can you find the right context points without bluffing, without being dishonest to show that you are truly listening. Basically, what we're doing with Vi is we are gathering the right data points and the right touch point with a user to show her over time that we know the user.
Omri Yoffe: [00:12:47] It can be about what we did the last time, it can be about how to say your name in the best way possible, but it can be about the weather or what happened in the news yesterday and it can be about funny things that are related to your personal goal. Vi shows you that she listens and is aware over time and by being human and being aware that those types of things are the two key aspect details that help us to engage with our targeted users in the best way possible.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: [00:13:15] Yeah that's excellent. So if I was to buy a pair of these and utilize it, let's say that I'm interested in high impact interval training, what would be the experience that I might have as a new consumer and new user of Vi, what would I have?
Omri Yoffe: [00:13:31] So basically, you're buying just a good pair of earphones that you can speak over the phone or listen to music on your morning commute to the office. But once you open the box, Vi will introduce herself and she will quickly ask you a few questions from how to say your personal name to what are your goals. She can connect to your healthcare, to your security fund, to the weather around you and so forth. After about five minutes you should be good to go for your first session. Vi will then take about two hours to get to know you, if it's during a run or walk session, and after those two hours she will let you know that you guys are good to go to start training in a more personalized way. She will reach out over email and after getting some work out data, she will suggest the training plan and she will ask you if you would like to schedule it over your calendar.
Omri Yoffe: [00:14:28] To your question, now she will start using more specific features such as step to the beat. So she uses voice and audio instead of a screen to step you into the right beat into the right pace to burn more fat or to achieve your personal record and so on. Intervals are still out of the near-term feature set. We just released a near-term roadmap and it's going to kick in by January of this year, so in six weeks from today all of that type of experience you can expect is a hands free one, meaning you don't need to look at any screen. You can ask Vi for your heart rate and she will answer. You can answer questions that she asks you and she will use music and beat, as mentioned, in order to pace you and to get you towards your goal.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: [00:15:14] This that all sounds really exciting to me. I love the idea that it integrates into a calendar that I can connect to my Spotify, and you tell me the weather where I'm at. So, as I'm smiling saying all this you know it's something that shows like this really unique convergence of many technologies into one personalized tool. So I'm actually excited to try it, but I would like to ask you a question. What's your personal favorite tool in using this? And what is it about using this tool that motivates you more or similarly to another person that might be next to you and gym putting their hand on your shoulder and saying keep on going. Today's your day. Don't give up?
Omri Yoffe: [00:15:53] So you know, maybe surprisingly, I'm not a crazy fitness addict. I'm not a marathon runner or a triathlete. I use Vi just to get out, not to be bored and to laugh a bit, and to get some basic fitness education and less about being the next Superman, absolutely not. I think this is also where our passion is. We're not trying to make people as super humans and to over perform towards their next 20k. We know that people's main barrier is motivation and psychology. What we're trying to do here is to give you, let's call it a fitness companion and less of a fitness expert. She knows lots of fitness IQ, but again where I'm using it is just to track my body to get my heart rate, get my pace right towards my goal, and just to have a nice companion with me not to be bored when I'm running in Manhattan and other 5 to 10K runs a few times a week.
Bradley Metrock: [00:17:06] So, as you look at what's going on with the mainstream voice assistant Alexa, Google Home, Siri and even other ones like Bixby, which is Samsung's, or Cortana. With your experience creating a product like Vi, what is it that is going on with these big voice assistant that gets you the most excited and whether it has a potential tie in with Vi down the road or not? What are some things that you've seen that get you the most excited and then maybe share with us something that the bigger companies have done with their voice assistant that you don't like?
Omri Yoffe: [00:17:49] So, I would say the first amazing thing and good thing is scale. Obviously, all the names that you've mentioned that we were testing on a daily basis are great tools that can help us scale and basically connect the dots between the different voice assistant and voice partners in our lives. In other words, I see a future exactly like your human and present level as you have your personal assistant or other people and service providers that are helping you and sometimes you would like them to communicate with each other. Same goes for any voice assistant out there.
Omri Yoffe: [00:18:31] We see a future that you know Siri or Alexa or Google could be used to take care of your body and mind tasks and they're doing it in a very organic and fluent way throughout your different IOT audio devices. They absolutely allow us a much broader functionality and content services that by basic voice commands you can get them very fast. So, scale and partnerships is something that I see as a great growth factor that those players are doing very well.
Omri Yoffe: [00:19:02] I think the missing part, and it's not that they're doing it bad, just the opposite. All of them are pushing very hard towards it, the human aspects. I think people are still, they're not afraid, but they're still not fully engaged on the emotional and consumer level with the regular robotic voices out there.
Omri Yoffe: [00:19:25] You know if you look at the temps, take DeepMind for example that you guys know very well, made great progress lately and presented a demo of a more humanized voice. We still don't see the level of emotional ranges of again, what I'm saying imperfection. You want your voice companion, in our case it's our body and mind partner, to sometimes take a breath or two to laugh and to do things that are not necessarily only technical. This is where we see the gap. We decided to deliver our own full stack voice to deliver this level of experience. But if one of the big guys will be able to give us better tools, together we will absolutely partner with them. Unfortunately, we haven't seen it yet. It's a constraint for small startups like ours, but it paid off from an engagement level and I am really looking forward for those guys to help us do it and get to the next-level of voice experience.
Dr. Matt Cybulsky: [00:20:25] I'm impressed with the entree into the fitness world using this AI voice tool. I'm actually looking forward to seeing it grow from this hard work you put into it and I'm really impressed with the outcome so far.
Bradley Metrock: [00:20:37] Omri, Congratulations on all of your work and your team's work. So for people who have listened to this podcast who want to get more information, we're going to include links to purchase the product in the show notes, as well as on the web on VoiceFirst.FM. But for people who want to get in touch with you and perhaps your team, what's the best way to do that?
Omri Yoffe: [00:21:00] Super simple, my personal email is or you can contact us at getvi.com. We are very passionate and very excited to join with any forces out there that believe that VoiceFirst has the potential that we think it has. So we look forward to hear from you guys and any partners or people that would like to take part in our journey and go for it. We are here to listen.
Bradley Metrock: [00:21:36] Omri, thank you for sharing your time, your experience and your expertise with us today. It's greatly appreciated.
Omri Yoffe: [00:21:44] Same here guys, thank you for having me.
Bradley Metrock: [00:21:45] For The Voice of Healthcare, thank you for listening, and until next time.