Bayer: Welly, an AI coach and fitness app
Over 10% of the world’s population is affected by anxiety and depression, costing the world economy about $1 trillion in lost productivity. The problems are particularly acute amongst millennials. Additionally, more than 70% of people globally don’t have access to mental health services today.
What if there was a way to close this gap? Could AI technology be the solution?
Together with the Bayer iHub team, we designed Welly – a digital coach that analyzes a user’s health metrics from all their wearables, smart sensors, and smartphones to offer timely, actionable health insights, and recommendations.
An opportunity in the horizon
We started working with the Bayer team by first understanding their drivers and needs. Bayer’s Silicon Valley-based Digital Innovation Group, called Bayer iHUB, was looking to discover new opportunities for Bayer combining AI, smart sensors, and healthcare.
In general, Bayer iHUB aims to help the roughly 270 million anxious population worldwide to understand the root causes of their stressors with real-time coaching and personalized health recommendations based on their biometric wearable data. The designers and strategists at Idean Palo Alto began the project with the Bayer iHub team by first understanding how millennials are managing stress today.
Finding out how stress is managed today
Our qualitative and quantitative studies showed that even when people have access to their health metrics like sleep patterns, heart rate, or blood pressure through wearables, they aren’t quite sure what to do with that information. Additionally, most good intentions to cope with stress and be physically fit tend to fizzle out quickly.
We further asked: How might we enable millennials to cope with stress in positive ways? How might we empower them to include physical and mental self-care as part of their daily lives to sustain them in the long run?
Through extensive research, we found that 83% of millennials wished to improve their health with self-health technology. 53% of US adults who exercise regularly, do so to cope with stress. Based on these findings, we sought to empower and engage anxious millennials to adapt and adhere to regular healthy habits that reduce stress.
Specifically geared towards millennials, we conceptualized Welly, a digital AI coach. Welly derives data from your wearables and smart sensors. It gives you a cohesive view of your health conditions, stress indicators, and provides timely, actionable insights, and recommendations.
Welly analyzes a user’s health metrics from all their wearables, smart sensors, and smartphones to offer timely, actionable health insights and recommendations.
Welly stands apart from other healthcare apps, because:
- It allows you to view your health metrics like sleep, calm, and activity in one place, without switching across various apps.
- It offers two engaging AI personas. A friendly “Coach” who is available 24/7 to answer questions, give advice, and provide timely encouragement. The second is a “Challenger” who playfully pushes you to be a healthier version of your current self.
- Machine learning algorithms analyze data gathered from users’ wearables and mobile devices. Over time, these algorithms offer deeper, inter-dependent, and personalized health insights to the user.
Based on Yu-kai Chou’s gamification motivators, we designed Welly to give users evidence of progress, new skills, and overcoming challenges. We were careful not to offer points, badges, and rewards without real challenges. We designed the challenges to be personalized and closely aligned to a user’s current health abilities and interests.
To contrast and balance the playful, competitive nudging from the Challenger, we introduced a supportive Coach who offers constant encouragement, timely suggestions, and actionable insights.
All these differentiators of the Welly ecosystem help Bayer iHub improve consumers’ mental health at a massive scale and establish a digital revenue stream by offering AI-based behavioral intervention for anxiety-plagued global millennials.
From app to business strategy
We worked on a business strategy for Welly and developed a business case of revenue potential for stress management. We also quantified market opportunities in stress for a one-pager pitch – this was based on secondary desk research, value proposition design, and business modeling. Business strategy and design streams worked in parallel and informed the other throughout the project.
The impact of Welly
Stress is a driving force behind mental and systemic disorders concurrent with most diseases Bayer treats today. Welly empowers Bayer iHub to launch a new service in the Mobile Health Tech industry and helps wearable companies increase their market share and loyalty by differentiating between good and bad stress and also understanding the root causes of those stressors. Most importantly, Welly empowers the anxiety-ridden population to practice and adhere to healthy habits and find value in self-care.
Welly stands at the intersection of two life-changing realities — one is the exponential growth in “intelligent computing” trends such as AI, machine learning, chatbots, and smart sensors, and the other is the dramatic global increase in stress levels amongst millennials.
Sunita leads hybrid design teams in fast-paced projects across industries like healthcare, education, e-commerce, transportation, and technology. She also develops and runs initiatives like Design Jams and Culture Workshops for Idean, San Francisco. Sunita holds a Bachelors degree in Architecture and a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from ITP, New York University.