HealthGPT hints at a future of fitness apps with personalized assistants

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Besides writing cover letters, the future of ChatGPT may be in the health sector. Researchers from Stanford University took the generative AI and successfully linked it to an iPhone’s Apple Health app to create HealthGPT.

The large language model (LLM) will answer any question you have regarding your own personal well-being via a “chat-style interface” as it grabs information from Apple Health. For example, you can ask HealthGPT how much you’ve been sleeping in the past week if you’re feeling particularly tired. The app will respond by giving you a detailed description of your recent sleeping habits. Since it’s a reworked ChatGPT, you can ask follow-up questions, like tips on how to get better sleep. HealthGPT will then provide those tips as it pulls information from the internet.

The LLM also keeps track of other body metrics like “step count, active energy, exercise minutes, heart rate, and body mass.” In order to access this data, HealthGPT requires the necessary permissions to read from Apple Health features like Active Energy. It can even give users “tailored advice towards… fitness goals”, according to recent a Twitter post by Varun Shenoy, one of the developers. 

Installing the demo

You can download the HealthGPT demo on your iPhone via its GitHub repository. Instructions on installation are provided, although the process is pretty complex. The developers state their LLM was built on top of the CardinalKit framework from the Standard Byers Center for Biodesign which allows “for easy customization.” So if you know your way around coding on iOS, you can tweak the experimental HealthGPT to your liking.

In the demo, the developers remind those curious that the AI is not meant to be a “substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.” They even point out the LLM may “hallucinate” at times meaning it may provide “false information” so use HealthGPT “at your own risk.” Even if you don’t mind downloading experimental software, you may want to hold off on it. In the GitHub repository, the developers note that aggregated HealthKit data from the past two weeks will be shared with OpenAI. For people who don’t want their health data uploaded to OpenAI, perhaps it’s best to pass on this opportunity.

It’s unknown what the team intends to do with HealthGPT outside of this neat little experiment. If it ever comes out on the App Store as a full-fledged app, it could totally change fitness software as we know it. Imagine having a fitness assistant on your iPhone with intimate knowledge of your own health providing personalized advice. It’s certainly possible. Other developers have successfully added ChatGPT to the Apple Watch as a digital assistant of sorts.

We asked Varun Shenoy via email what the future holds for HealthGPT. It’ll be interesting to see if it becomes an official app. This story will be updated if and when he responds.

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