The Voice Revolution: Integrating voice technology into personalised nutrition solutions

Jan 18, 2022 9:44am

The word is out: voice-activated technology & AI is here to stay. 

Many different iterations of voice-related technology exist, from voice assistants that power smart devices to frictionless assistant bots who excel in conversation. Whether it’s timing your sourdough in the toaster to getting Alexa or Siri to Google the distance to the nearest pharmacy, voice is quickly gaining ground as the medium of choice for organising our lives. 

Speech-to-text driven engines and voice AI have been around for years, but only recently have begun to find wider consumer adoption in our homes and now increasingly in healthcare as a result of the COVID pandemic. As Mobihealthtechnews notes, voice application within the health space has spawned an entirely new micro-sector - from improving palliative and out-patient care at home to developing an AI-voice recognition technology that can understand commands from those with speech difficulties.

Less typing, simpler user experience, faster results and improved software for accent recognition have enabled the voice revolution to become one of the most exciting conveniences from the world of IoT. And it’s a money maker - the healthcare conversational AI market is growing at a staggering 25-35% compounded annually.

Still, the integration of voice tech within the field of nutrition is sorely lacking.

For us at Qina, there’s even more cause for optimism, because personalised nutrition and voice technology go together like peas and carrots. If implemented carefully, opportunities can be ripe for the picking.

Personalised nutrition begins with a good understanding of individual eating behaviours, without which any kind of recommendation tool is difficult to build. We’ve explored some common user challenges when it comes to nutrition apps in our previous data brief on biomarkers, which include:

 

  1. Logging fatigue (people unlikely to log food for more than 3 days)
  2. Inaccurate tracking (‘I forgot to add the 2 bowls of ice cream I ate last night’)
  3. Inaccurate nutritional analysis
  4. Lack of cooking options which meet health goals & dietary preferences
  5. Lack of knowledge on products which suit individual nutrition plans
  6. A limited food  database

Voice technology has the potential to solve these problems as we move to a world that requires less effort on the side of the consumer in order to receive feedback (Foodvalley whitepaper 2021).

From instantly logging consumption and tracking daily calorie and nutritional intake to letting voice-activated AI recommend specific meals or foods such as snack bars with specific dietary requirements. Accessibility to personalised nutrition options are endless. 

Much of this expanding functionality has to do with the improvement of speech-to-text engines with AI, to assist with greater accent and inflection interpretation. In the near future, with ever-increasing connectivity speeds and reduced latency (which reduces the lag-time for the voice assistant to register a command), voice will only become faster and more intuitive. In addition, the integration of voice into electronic health records will help dietitians and nutritionists focus on the really hard part that matters, behaviour change.

Based on data from the Qina platform, there are currently 8 companies who have integrated voice into their offering. That means there is a huge opportunity still to grow this segment.

Who is developing innovative voice activated solutions?

Lifesum is a self-care app that enables users to personalise their meal plans and track their weight loss journey. By looking at their exciting partnership with Google Assistant, voice is clearly bridging the experience gap for customers, who can request, instruct or track nearly anything without incurring additional screen time - a remarkable additional wellness benefit.

Plantjammer makes use of voice for and from its customers to not only build its food waste-fighting data models, but also offer its in-app services in over 10 languages (even boasting that with its voice-learning integrated AI, it can add a new language to serve customers within just 7 days). Transitioning to a plant based diet has never been so easy and, in large part, we have voice AI to thank for that.

Even Alexa’s What To Eat reveals the level of attention the voice space is receiving from big brands like Amazon. Based on voice inspired recommendations and preferences from users, Alex can curate new recipes and food options that mind their taste and dietary profile. 

Other potential opportunities include:

  • Improving the collection & tracking of healthcare records
  • Providing real-time feedback and care
  • Conducting research
  • Enhancing in-home care & recovery programmes

 

How has Qina integrated voice technology? 

We have integrated voice technology into our mixed methods research services by using speech-to-text technology, using Natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning. This enables us and our clients to derive rich data and actionable insights from unstructured data. This means we combine the power of NLP and machine learning with our expertise in nutrition and behaviour change to provide context and insights. This helps clients to understand what drives consumer behaviour in the real world to develop new products, renovate an old brand or develop their communications in the language that consumers use and understand.

A word of caution

Despite a promising start, the ethics of voice technology will need to be carefully considered. As voice AI undoubtedly becomes more intelligent and entrenched in daily life, both personalised nutrition companies and consumers alike should be mindful of how recommendation algorithms may become biased or skewed to certain options or brands that may not be consciously chosen by users.

Voice offers tremendous benefits to the future of personalised nutrition brands. It’s clearly given a ‘voice’ to the industry, and at Qina, we’re excited to watch and learn its development in the future.

How will you integrate voice into your Personalised nutrition solution?

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Written by Mariette Abrahams

CEO & Founder of Qina

https://qina.tech 

 

 

Science

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21844173/ 
https://forum.quantifiedself.com/t/speech-based-food-logging/3775 
https://news.mit.edu/2016/voice-controlled-calorie-counter-0324 
https://patents.google.com/patent/US6745214