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How WW leverages Algolia voice search

Weight Watcher
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New York, US

The Story

Say hello to Wellow: WW enhances digital experience by introducing voice technology to inspire healthy habits

With our lives getting busier and busier, and technology playing a larger role in our daily activities, focusing on health and wellness can become a challenge for many. 

Just last month, WW announced that in addition to being the world’s leading commercial weight-management program, it would become the world’s partner in wellness as well. In order to do that, WW is evolving all aspects of how it is integrated in people’s lives and has made several enhancements to the digital experience for all of its 4.5 million members. Chief among them is a partnership that leverages voice technology to create an experience that can be integrated seamlessly into its members’ lives. 

In October of 2018, WW unveiled "Wellow", a voice application integrating with Google Home (coming to Amazon Alexa in 2019). With a 55 year history, WW is disrupting the wellness industry by introducing modern technologies and building a digital approach that makes wellness accessible for everyone. This groundbreaking new experience encourages members to incorporate healthy habits like never before. Through hands-free interactions like food tracking and recipe search, members can weave their WW wellness journey into their everyday routines without lifting a finger. This launch represents years of innovation in the making.

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Years before the voice industry was poised to become what it is today, WW and Algolia were working on a bigger vision for the role voice could play in WW members’ everyday lives. Prioritizing health and changing your lifestyle is not always as easy as it sounds and these new technologies help to simplify people's lives and encourage small, repeatable behaviors that are proven to increase success on a person’s wellness journey. Voice brings this support into people's homes and on the go, and is a technology that can help create a seamless experience with WW. 

Nic Chikhani, VP of Product at WW saw the potential that voice could have for members and mobilized his team and the team at Algolia to architect voice search technology that would fit this vision. This process opened up many doors of opportunity with voice, and as members engage with this new platform, together with Algolia, WW is learning, building and investing in new areas of development. The recent rise of Smart Home devices presented Nic and his team the perfect forum to bring WW members their first voice driven experience. 

“Wellow, I had half a sandwich for lunch.” 

And, we’re talking a lot more than simply returning answers to predictable search queries. Wellow, now available on Google Home and coming to Amazon Alexa in early 2019, encourages members to interact with the app using language that’s natural to them, so whether the phrase is “I just ate a banana” or “I had a half a sandwich” the right data will be extracted and recorded. Diogo Ortega, Sr. Product Manager of Conversational AI at WW explains how incorporating Algolia’s technology helped to “make the user experience a lot easier and more natural”, as his team didn’t need to “fill gaps in the tech to tell it exactly what to expect from each spoken sentence.” As a result, “people don’t need an instruction manual to start using it.” Patrick Cedrowski, Director of R&D Engineering at WW, emphasizes that “the power of Wellow’s conversational AI is fulfilled with a combination of Algolia’s language intent detection and WW’s natural language processing and mapping algorithms.” 

At the frontlines of the voice age, WW Tech knows that this only marks the beginning of what’s possible, and they plan to continue investing in the journey of discovery. Algolia has enabled WW to take this leap in modernizing their digital approach and transforming the member experiences to be not only more convenient, but inspiring to all.

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