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Podcast No. 31: Former WHOOP CTO John Capodilupo, 3.0 Technology

By Will Ahmed

Podcast No. 31: WHOOP CTO John Capodilupo, 3.0 Technology

Today I’m joined by one of my fellow Co-Founders, Former WHOOP Chief Technology Officer John Capodilupo.

Listen on:

The two of us first met back at Harvard and bonded over the idea of being able to continuously monitor the human body. John has been an incredible partner to me in building this business and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life. In this episode we talk about a number of things related to the launch of the WHOOP Strap 3.0, including how some of the technology works and what you can do to get the most accurate data from your Strap. We also discuss some troubleshooting tips for the 3.0, as well as our continuous efforts to upgrade the membership experience for our users. Additionally, John and I dive into a couple recent sleep studies using WHOOP, one relating to Alzheimer’s disease and another exploring insomnia prevention.   If you’re a WHOOP member already, or someone who’s thinking about joining, there’s definitely a lot here you’ll enjoy.

Show Notes:

5:24 - Signal Accuracy. WHOOP uses a technology called photoplethysmography. “The raw signal itself is incredibly noisy,” John explains. “We’ve developed a set of sophisticated algorithms over the last 7 years to be able to take this signal in almost any condition and filter out any of the noise sources,” such as light, arm motion and changing skin contact. “What we get back is reliable heart rate and heart rate variability information.” 8:44 - Strap Placement. “The better positioned it is on your wrist, the less artificial data corruption we get,” John says. “The first thing to always check is band positioning and band tightness.” He suggests a variety of tips to help get the best signal possible. 12:20 - Wearing Sensor Underneath Wrist? “We have seen no statistically significant difference in the quality of the data from the top of the wrist to under the wrist.” 13:09 - Can Arm Motion Affect Data? “Sometimes we recommend using one of our bicep bands or arm sleeves where you won’t have this additional noise source,” John says. Will notes that only a small percentage of users have this issue. 15:12 - Constantly Improving Algorithms based on member data and feedback. “If we see a pattern emerge, we’ll take a look at the data, set up experiments and refine the algorithm.” 17:21 - 3.0 Troubleshooting Tips. Check out the blog post John wrote. 17:48 - Bluetooth Low Energy, and what it means for data transfer. “It’s really become a standard for wireless technology and communications.” With BLE, “the app is now responsible for asking the Strap for data,” John says, so you can experience data lag if you force quit the app. Will adds, “If you leave the WHOOP app open in the background, it should be fine.” John explains that iOS is very efficient and it won’t use more battery life or data. “You really shouldn’t see any impact at all from leaving the WHOOP app open.” 22:48 - App & Firmware Updates. “These things are all getting improved in real time every day,” Will says. “It goes along with being a member, we feel an obligation to make sure that your technology is evolving and getting better every day.” 24:13 - If Lights Won’t Turn On. John suggests a number of things to try. If they all fail, go to the help section of the app and email to send us a log of your data. We may ask you to go through a few diagnostic steps, “these standardized procedures that our engineers have defined enable us to better understand and categorize the error and how it happened, and allow us to get more data to fix it.” 27:53 - Our Support Team. “It’s been so rewarding for me to be on the front lines of customer support and see it first hand,” John says. “And from it I’ve created a roadmap of different things we’re going to address.” Will expresses how sorry we are for the current delayed response times, and that we’re hard at work to expand our membership services team. “We’re going through every ticket in order and we will answer every single question,” John adds. 32:52 - Sending Diagnostic Logs. If you’re having a technical issue, it’s important to do this by emailing support from the help section of the WHOOP app. 33:51 - Validation. “We believe giving back to the medical community is part of our responsibility,” Will says. “It’s also something that helps drive our technology forward.” 34:09 - Cornell Alzheimer's Study. “WHOOP showed changes in the architecture of the subjects’ sleep” that allowed the researchers to help differentiate people at risk for the disease. 37:31 - Arizona Insomnia Study. “They had a cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and wanted to see it’s impact, but they didn’t want to have people go to a sleep lab where they’ll probably sleep worse anyways.” The subjects wore WHOOP instead. “WHOOP was able to reflect the improvements in their sleep times and efficiency.” 41:17 - 24/7 Physiological Data. “It all goes back to this fundamental idea we had 7 years ago.”