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March 9, 2017

Biotech meets IT to deliver personalised wellness solution for wearables

March 9, 2017. This year at Mobile World Congress a biotech company Gero presented their new technology - a personal wellness calculator for smartphones and wearables users. It allows users to continuously monitor their wellness status in response to different lifestyle choices. The calculator quantitatively assesses exactly how much long-term benefit or harm a user gains from certain habits using just a step counter.

Wearable devices customers are not satisfied with the features of their devices. The abandonment rate of smartwatches is 29%, and 30% for fitness trackers, because people do not find them useful, they do not provide actionable health insights, they get bored of them or they break, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. in December 2016. There are hundreds of devices and thousands of apps that measure and track your health & activity.

Therein lies a challenge - these wellness apps log and provide commonplace information like number of steps per minute or pulse rate. You can learn your number of steps per day but what do you understand about your health and wellness from this information? The majority of these apps provides general recommendations. But how do you know whether they are good for you personally? How to optimise your own activity and lifestyle goals to gain maximum benefit for your health and wellness?

The solution is to make digital health experience truly personalised. The Gero team spent more than three years on this research, gathering data from wearables users to build a model that can extract the fingerprints of aging and wellness changes from pedometer data stream. The model works even for a simple step counter that is available in almost any smartphone or fitness tracker, so it’s not limited to special devices.

Gero team

The Gero biomathematical engine goes beyond straightforward activity counting and looks for locomotor patterns common to all people, but known to evolve throughout life span. The result is a Wellness score that reflects the effect of healthy or unhealthy lifestyle choices on personal well-being. Models were validated using data from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and UK Biobank, where more than 100,000 people shared their clinical and health data. Using this data the company built a model that correlates shapes of accelerometer tracks with user’s age and can predict personal mortality risks. Biological age itself doesn’t really change that fast, but the wellness score changes really quickly in response to different lifestyle choices. The results of the study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Patent application is currently pending.

The Gero technology provides users with a way to see how current habits affect their wellness and health span in the future. The technology can be used both in wellness and health care areas. It can improve the efficacy of personal and corporate wellness plans by providing personalised assessment of the effect of a lifestyle recommendation on the user’s well- being. It also can be used for health and mortality risks evaluation in insurance and for individual hazard assessment in clinical trials. It can be implemented without additional research into existing wellness and health assessment system both for personal use and population-wide screening. This is the first marketed consumer product which allows for large scale aging biomarkers assessment using evidence based science.

The Gero team has also built an app that shows the capabilities of the technology. It’s a web application for biological age assessment and a personal HealthBot. HealthBot is a Facebook Messenger bot that automatically detects any changes in the user’s wellness status and notifies him or her about it in a timely manner. The app was designed for use with the Fitbit platform with plans to expand service for other fitness trackers and smartphones users.