Would you take your fitness advice from a robotic looking character named Cody? Some former Microsoft geeks hope so.
That’s the name of the virtual personal coach that’s designed to get folks off their duffs, and start exercising.
“Think of Cody as a proactive Siri. He collects data on your fitness activities, and provides encouragement, recommends activities, and organizes support,” writes Pejman Pour-Moezzi, the former product manager at Bing who helped come up with the idea.
Virtual assistants have already intersected with our daily chores. (You may have already come across Jenn at Alaska Airlines who helps travelers plan trips to the airport and purchase airline tickets). So, why not help transform the world of physical fitness and health?
Cody is designed to help individuals keep track of their fitness goals, and get encouragement from their peers. For example, a group of running buddies could check into a common space online to track the progress of workouts in preparation for a marathon or another road race.
“Based on these check-ins, Cody will encourage you and give you recommendations, such as an interesting article, video, or a popular place to exercise,” the company says. ”For example, because he knows that you like running, he might inform you that tomorrow is going to be sunny, suggest that you consider a run outside, and give you a recommendation of a popular place to run in your city. Cody also keeps track of your progress, and sends you reports on your stats.”
The world of health and fitness is getting transformed as we know it, and there’s no shortage of companies that are attempting to break through the clutter. Some players include FitBit, Lift, Budge and EveryMove, with Pour-Moezzi saying that most start from a position of believing that data and information are the drivers of change.
But Pour-Moezzi — along with co-founder and ex-Microsoftie Paul Javid — said that human behavior is much more complex than just getting access to data.
“Even when given all the information, we often make bad decisions,” he said. “Rather than appeal purely to our rational brains, our approach with Cody is to tap into something much older and more fundamental — our ‘desire for respect, community, and recognition.’ Talk to any personal trainer or health coach and they will tell you where they add the most value is in creating accountability.”
Could Cody actually do that?
Pour-Moezzi thinks so, and he added that it could eventually expand beyond fitness, helping people find a job or learn to cook.
“The unfortunate reality is that goals are hard,” said Pour-Moezzi, adding that 90 percent of those who set out to achieve a goal fail. “Just imagine the boost our economy and our communities would get if we could find ways to make these goals more successful.”