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Huli Uses Cycling Tech to Tackle the Lockdown Bulge

Anne Fraser

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Huli

Huli will use satellite technology to tackle the rise in obesity due to the lockdown with personalised cycling routes.

With almost a year of adhering to changing Covid restrictions under our belt, it feels like we have become seasoned professionals in adapting our lifestyles and behaviours.

While the roll out of the vaccination programme is providing a light at the end of the tunnel, scientists are warning of a second deadly killer which has been worsened by the 2020 lockdown: obesity.

According to the latest research from the Covid Symptom Study app, almost a third of those surveyed gained weight during the UK’s March lockdown, fuelled by decreased activity levels, increased snacking, and unhealthier diets.

In my job, I am lucky to be able to be exposed to some incredible and potentially life changing organisations helping people with health and wellbeing issues.

However, as a result of this effect of the pandemic, more people than ever turn to tech to encourage at home exercise and monitor their diet. Given this, it is the work of two Scottish entrepreneurs hoping to capitalise on the growth of fitness apps whilst inspiring people to get out and exercise in their local area which has most recently caught my eye

A spinout from the University of Strathclyde, one of Huli’s founders is among six academic entrepreneurs who have each received up to £100,000 from this year’s cohort of Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowships to help commercialise their work.

The app uses algorithms originally developed for satellite constellations to generate tailored, personalised cycling routes designed to help users get the most out of their local area – be it Dundee or Dornoch.

Unlike traditional route planners which rely on user generated content and a predetermined starting point, Huli software leverages AI combined with processed open source geospatial and satellite data, to create personalised routes for users anywhere in the UK, taking into consideration preferences in in distance, duration, difficulty and elevation.

As well as a year’s salary, the RSE fellowship provides the fellow with access to a network of business and technology contacts, mentoring, business support and access to resources and expertise which they have used to build a strong team of interns and staff.

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When I spoke to him about his fellowship, Huli Co-founder, Steven Owens, commented: “We have always been passionate about the outdoors and this year the importance of spending time outside has really came to fruition as an essential part of our physical and mental wellbeing. Our goal has also been to make sure the outdoors is accessible for everyone, no matter their ability.

“After a highly successful web-based offering, we are really excited to be bringing Huli to the Google Play and Apple App store.

“As a small start-up, we’ve received a great deal of support from the tech community and from external bodies. My Enterprise Fellowship with the RSE has provided me with financial support, guidance and mentorship that has helped to propel our business forward. We’re now looking toward a fantastic 2021 where we will introduce Huli to the masses.”

It is exciting to be surrounded by organisations looking to make a significant difference through technology. We are fortunate to live in an age where tech can be used for good and none of us have an excuse now should a third wave hit to fall into the same trap we did in the first.

Anne Fraser

Enterprise Manager, Royal Society of Edinburgh

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