My Day With a Few Health Bots

ThinkstockPhotos-645732586My weekdays are pretty routine.  I try to wake up early and go for a run.  I make my daughter breakfast and then take her to school.  I head to work, maybe go out for lunch, and then leave late afternoon.  As I head home, I’ll stop and pick up something to make for dinner.  At home while making dinner, I’ll have a glass or two of wine, and chill with the family.  Bedtime, and the day comes to an end.

Sounds like a pretty typical day, right?  Being in technology, I wondered how my day could change by adding in a few bots along the way.  Chatbots, more specifically, are applications that are programmed to act like humans, and perform various automated tasks.  They can communicate with you by way of text or voice.  Think Alexa for voice.  For text, you can find bots on different messaging platforms.  The most prevalent are Facebook Messenger and Telegram,  so those are my tools of choice.

My Day with the Bots

My day starts with a run.  On Telegram, I send a text on RunningMate which is a bot that helps you find running partners.  The bot does not seem ready to connect me to runners yet, so I go it alone, hoping for more success with other bots throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 11.38.20 PMAfter breakfast, I jump on Messenger for Forksy, where I can keep track of the food I consume each day.  I type in “yogurt” and also send an emoji of a banana.  Forksy texts me the nutritional details of each item, and adds the items to my Digital Diary.  I had told Forksy I wanted to lose weight, so “she” lets me know when I eat something that I perhaps should not.  After each meal, I can text Forksy and she will keep a running track of what I eat versus my daily calorie goals.  Pretty cool way to log food.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 11.04.00 PMLater in the morning, I get an alert from Florence, my nurse chatbot.  Florence can help me with checking symptoms, tracking my health, as a medication reminder, or to get general health information.  I told Florence that I take vitamins, so at Noon each day she will text to ask me if I have taken them.  Getting the alert, I am reminded that I want to ask her about a pain I am having in my lower back.  As I ask, she reminds me she is not a replacement for medical consultation and that she is still in beta.  I get that.  Though a series of questions, she gives me facts and figures about back pain.  Interesting information, but not yet information I can act on.  I like Florence, I will come back.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 11.28.52 PMThroughout the day, I check in with Lark on my iPhone.  While Lark can help with several things like tracking my physical activity, sleep, food and weight, I look to it to help me with my mental well-being.  Larks asks me how I am feeling, and sends me reassuring messages to keep me motivated and self-aware.  Lark oddly also seems to want to end each conversation quicker than I do!  Does that say more about me – or her?

Mid afternoon, I check in with FitCircle.  With FitCircle, I can work on my diet, workout, and nutrition, but I like the workout assistant the best.  The bot gives me a selection of five-minute exercises I can do when I get a break.  I choose Yoga, and a number of poses complete with pictures and descriptions are texted to me.  FitCircle is friendly, and offers me a lot of different choices.

As the work day ends, I head home but know I need to pick up something to make for dinner.  I get to Whole Foods and text my Whole Foods Bot.  This bot helps to find recipes based on ingredients I am interested in.  Today, I type in “chicken” and the bot gives me several chicken recipe options.  I scroll through them and find “Chicken Tetrazzini”.  A link connects me to the Whole Foods webpage for the recipe where I can see the ingredient list and recipe instructions.  Pretty helpful, and an easier and more fun way to interact than by doing a web search.

Home, wine opened.  Tetrazzini being made, a nice glass of wine enjoyed.   I reflect on the day and the bots.  All are pretty first generation, so I know the usability will only get better.  The value I see comes in the easy way to communicate, the friendly nature of some, and the more personalized information they can and will be able to offer to me.  For now, they certainly made my day that much more informative and interesting!


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