ithlete: Disruption of Health IT via the Quantified Self
For any unfamiliar with the Quantified Self, we highly recommend this previous article that highlighted the pillars of the movement and showcased how technologies revolving in and around Big Data, mobile, data visualization and beyond all add up to what is an epicenter of disruption.The following is a candid interview with Simon Wegerif, creator of the ithlete app and founder of HRV Fit Ltd.
ithlete is a new heart rate technology that tells you when to train and when to rest based on your individual Heart-Rate Variance (HRV). For more information on ithlete visit http://www.myithlete.com/ and follow them on Twitter.
Q: Your app is a prime example of disruptive innovation where a mobile app and small device can really challenge companies in the sports and medical market that have cumbersome equipment and high price points. What are your concerns for your company in a volatile market? What preparations have you done to ensure you are not disrupted yourself?
Indeed, many hi-tech disruptors are themselves disrupted in time by the next generation. My overwhelming drive in starting HRV Fit was to bring some of the clear conclusions from HRV research on the value of monitoring the human body’s regulation system (ANS) from the lab environment to regular athletes and to recovering heart patients. The current business model is based on the sale of apps, where users expectations for value and usability are now very high. Also, sensors are on the move, so whereas nearly all the research has been performed with ECG measurements, even HRM chest straps are considered cumbersome by regular users, and we have spent a lot of time developing an innovative pulse sensor that can be slipped on and off the finger, but is almost as precise as an ECG. As the number of HRV users continues to grow, there will be increasing value from comparing each others’ data and creating age group & other demographic comparisons, it’s a key aim of what we are doing.
(On the topic of getting disrupted) I already have enough ideas for innovation to keep going for the rest of my working career, but keeping the technology relevant & easy to use is the best way I know of avoiding getting disrupted!
Q: User experience is often the deciding factor for adoption, could you share specifically why your app provides compliance and satisfaction with your direct customers and white label companies?
One of the key objectives I set for myself during the 9 months of study research I performed before creating the ithlete product was keeping the measurement to a maximum of 1 minute so that everyone can fit it into their morning routine (a measurement first thing provides the best reference for comparison and also presents the opportunity for changing something that very day according to what it tells you). But scientific accuracy could not be compromised, and it took me a lot of analysis & finding some key papers that showed that this could really be done inside 60 seconds.
Q: Big Data is often a problem for sensors that are constantly logging information. How do you see HRV being managed in the future with healthcare? I am sure this is going to a requested data stream for many as HRV can contribute to predictive analytics.
I would really like to build a big database of HRV measurements, as with 5000 users we are already finding values that are outside of the ranges expected from medical textbooks. Having population data would allow us to further detail some of the associations that have been noted in the research papers with much smaller numbers of subjects. Trends preceding the onset of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are of special interest to me, as these conditions are truly epidemic now, and have such a high personal as well as economic healthcare costs. If caught early, they are often preventable.
Q: Your algorithm is very unique and provides many features besides quantifying the current status of the user. Could you expand on the challenges in the next two years with aggregation? Many users are trying to centralize their data on their smart devices.
Up until now, the priority has been on getting the measurement protocol right and we are just starting on the aggregation part of the journey. Originally just exporting by email, we have now added Dropbox syncing and one of our white label products for corporate healthcare, uploads data instantly over secure links to a central server. We are creating links to team aggregation apps and hope to publish an API later this year.
On Point Post: The Transcendental Qualities of an Open API
Q: Wearable technologies such as smart fabrics and other materials are creating momentum. How do you see ithlete and your other products evolving without giving away too much?
For us, the biggest developments are unobtrusive pulse sensors and communicating with Bluetooth Smart directly to the smartphone. Continuous monitoring is much more convenient when using smart fabric undershirts, and we see applications in sports as well as early warnings for heart patients and people suffering from anxiety.
Here is a brief one minute video showcasing exactly how the user experiences this technology and application.
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