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Startups

Former K-pop dancer turns to AI for personal training services

Armed with analytics from 3 million images, Weelo is more than a vision

By Jan 04, 2022 (Gmt+09:00)

Weelo, a product of Alyce Healthcare Co., is a digital at-home training agent powered by machine learning.
Weelo, a product of Alyce Healthcare Co., is a digital at-home training agent powered by machine learning.

When Dia Kang first moved to Silicon Valley in October 2016 to create a dance app to learn K-pop moves, there was no worldwide pandemic. 

By January 2018, after knocking on countless doors of venture capital firms with no response, she was about to give up on her dream. But she was still determined to capitalize on all her hard work.

Then, Covid-19 hit – forcing everyone around the globe to stay put and exercise at home. 

Kang, CEO of Alyce Healthcare Co., seized this opportunity to jump into the digital workout coaching industry. Unlike most other services in the market, her product was developed with a focus on building strength as opposed to weight loss and a bikini-ready body. 

“I named the product Weelo after Somalia’s legendary queen Arraweelo,” said Kang with a smile. “It represents strong women.”

BUILDING STRENGTH ON THE BACK OF IMAGE ANALYSIS

Digital workout services show movements a user can follow and most can count the number of movements. But can they provide real-time feedback to make sure the effort is worthwhile? Kang claims Weelo is the only service that alerts the user and offers corrections if their poses are not aligned with the recommended movement. 

Weelo provides automatic feedback by analyzing and judging a user’s movement. To build Weelo, Alyce Healthcare developed its own pose estimation engine through learning and optimizing more than 3 million images.

Twelve full-time team members spent the last three years developing the service, headed by main engineer Cha Ji-hoon who formerly worked as a software engineer at Google Korea. 

Since the beta version opened on Jan. 11, 2021, more than 3,000 people have subscribed to the free service. 

According to Alyce Healthcare, the number of users surged 370% from the first to the third quarter of 2021. The retention rate, which the company defines as more than 15 consecutive logins and uses of the service, stands at 41%.

Several companies are incorporating Weelo's API into their own platforms
Several companies are incorporating Weelo's API into their own platforms

TWO-PRONGED APPROACH

Alyce Healthcare does not only provide the service to customers; but also its software to businesses. 

Armed with the massive amount of image data, the company built a library for each movement and packaged the API (application programming interface) to share it with other companies wishing to apply the motion recognition solution to their own apps and websites. 

The API saves companies about a year of hiring and working with a Machine Learning engineer and a physiotherapist, Kang explained. 

“Since we have already finished optimization, it can be applied to various device channels," Kang told The Korea Economic Daily Global Edition. "Thanks to that, we were able to have six MoUs within seven months of the beta opening,” 

Samsung Group was one of the first to approach the 32-year-old CEO. The company sent requests to introduce the Weelo service in the form of API to Samsung Life Insurance's healthcare app, The Wealth. 

INTERACTIVE AND ADAPTIVE 

From April this year, Weelo will charge a subscription fee of 159,000 won (US$133) for six months of service. Its main customer base will remain women in their 20s and 30s. 

It also plans to expand its service category from just B2C (business to customer) and B2B (business to business) to include B2G (business to government), targeting the South Korean and US governments next year. 

In two years’ time, the company hopes to have 50,000 paying users. By investing the subscription fees back into the business, it plans to transform itself into a comprehensive and interactive coaching solutions provider. 

To this end, Alyce Healthcare is working on connecting genetics DTC (direct-to-consumer) testing, physical checkup results, and wearable devices with Weelo software. 

Write to Jee Abbey Lee at jal@hankyung.com

Jee Abbey Lee edited this article.
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