Last year we met Moov, a small company with a wearable device that promised to be more than your average fitness tracker. The idea of an artificial intelligence coach that learns over time sounded promising, but it came in a bulky, prototype package. Today, Moov has announced a much better-looking version of its AI-enhanced wearable: the Moov Now.
This time around the wearable comes in a much smaller package and pops into a more breathable, sweat-friendly strap. It uses a replaceable battery that lasts six months, and it pairs to your phone over Bluetooth. There's no screen or indicator light on the Moov Now, but otherwise in many ways it's similar to other fitness trackers — it can count steps and calculate the amount of calories you've burned.
"Correct my form instead of just telling me how many steps I took today."
What makes Moov Now different is the way it interprets that data, according to Meng Li, one of the company's co-founders. "We just feel like we had to go beyond the data," she says. "It’s not enough. We’re human. We like stories, we like insights. We’re not like machines." Li thinks that, while wearables do a good job gathering raw data, the apps we use need to be smarter about what that data means. "Tell me the things I need to do, give guidance, tell me what I did wrong, and correct my form instead of just telling me how many steps I took today," Li says.
The original Moov could do all of those things, but Li says Moov Now does them better, despite the smaller package. The team built specific apps for five different activities: running, swimming, cycling, boxing, and timed workouts. Each mode came with its own tailor-made programs, which were built with help from coaches at Stanford University, and there are more than 200 variations to choose from. Moov won't just track your running — the AI will guide you through endurance or sprint programs, encouraging you along the way but also calling you out if it notices you doing something wrong. "It has a personality," Li laughs.
I got to see some of that personality during a demo of the new Moov at our office. "I'll guide you step by step through this first one," the AI coach says to Nikola Hu, another Moov co-founder. "We're aiming for at least 188 steps per minute today." Hu is jogging in place, but his pace is too slow, so the AI prods him again. "You are averaging 154 steps per minute. It should be at least 188." An increasingly out of breath Hu shoots Li a look. "Did you turn off reduced coaching?" Hu asks.
His question is indicative of the fair amount of control Moov offers. If you never want to look at your phone's screen during a workout, you don't have to — just let the AI guide you with audible prompts. If those prompts start to nag, you can turn on that reduced coaching option to slow their frequency. There are different difficulty levels in every program, from beginner to advanced.
While Moov is all about the AI during your workout, you can still access all the data behind that machine learning when you're back in the app. You can track your sleep, review past workouts, and monitor your daily activity, much like you can with other fitness apps.
Another thing that differentiates Moov Now from its competitors is its ability to recognize movement in three-dimensional space. Hu demonstrates this capability for me by doing some office boxing. The punches he's throwing are showing up in real time on the iPhone screen that his Moov devices are paired to. It's impressive — there's basically zero lag. He switches from this demo mode to a Guitar Hero-type game where he has to jab and uppercut in time with a beat. The sensors are good enough to recognize the different moves, even if he's falling behind again, something the AI coach reminds him of.
The fitness tracking market is dominated by companies like Jawbone and Fitbit, but the longer they keep fighting each other in court, the longer their competition has to catch up. Moov isn't completely unique — other startups have attempted similar feats. But the first version of Moov pushed the company beyond the crowdfunding phase. The Moov Now is its first real chance at retail success.
The company is taking preorders starting today, with the Moov Now temporarily priced at $59. It will retail for $99 when devices start shipping in the fall.