Tag: Healthcare

“People know everything about the environment that they’re in, but nothing about the environment within.” Q&A with Martin Ashby.

Martin Ashby is Operations Director at Prevayl®.Having worked within wearable tech for over seven years, as well as a decade in leadership roles at Sports Direct and five years as General Manager, Sourcing Operations for Umbro, he joined Prevayl in September 2019.

We caught up with Martin to understand what first inspired him about the company and the impact he believes Prevayl can have for personal health, sporting performance and community wellness.

What first inspired you about Prevayl?

Before I joined the business I saw Adam present the concept. You just had to look in the eyes of the people in the room. The absolute belief in the possibilities of Prevayl. They were immediately sold on what Prevayl means for personal health and wellbeing as well as the wider industry benefits.

Adam had that vision from the outset. Let’s be clear, it was a vision to do something that had never been done before, which some people might question if it could be done at all. For me it always had to be worth a shot, as it takes guts to go for that vision, so I knew I had to be involved.

This is an industry I know and love. I’m extremely passionate about health and wellbeing and I’m convinced that technology can deliver huge steps forward in this area. Prevayl is the right place to be to do that.

Your previous employment has given you detailed experience of the wearable tech industry. How is Prevayl approaching things differently?

One of the biggest issues elsewhere has been a lack of flexibility and agility. While the Prevayl mission always remains the same, the scale of the team and the talent within means we can always respond to new ideas and thinking.

Previously there would be four tech heads and two commercial guys trying to get something off the ground. Adam’s approach to building something worthwhile and purpose-driven is therefore extremely refreshing.

His desire to have the best people and industry-leading minds in all areas of the business is fantastic. It’s a very different approach to many start-ups, but it enables us to move quickly in the right direction as a business.

Often new talent only drops in when a business is about to explode from lack of resource. The approach that Adam and the senior leadership team have taken is very much more a long-term strategic outlook.

By bringing some of the best talent in the industry in from the outset, there is a high degree of trust for the individual teams to deliver.

With so much going on, so quickly, it’s an exciting place to be.

You mention your passion for health and wellbeing. How important is it to change the way people view this and enable them to take control of their own health? What role do health and cognitive insights play in this?

Around 60% of the UK population is now overweight. We tend to use other people as a benchmark but taking control of your own wellbeing is all about understanding your own body and applying this to your individual situation.

I believe that if people actually see clearly in irrefutable data what they are doing to their bodies, they will do something about it. Personal health insights can completely change how people approach their health and wellbeing.

Our technology can spot changes in health, even micro changes very quickly such as an increase in heart rate or a decrease in heart rate recovery. We can tell very quickly when someone is dropping into a state that illustrates a lack of fitness, both mental and physical. That means that people don’t have to get 12 months into doing the wrong thing to realise they need to change their habits.

Ownership of health is all about taking these personal insights and making the right changes to your behaviour every day.

You’ve mentioned previously that you see a big shift in the medical world from treatment to prevention. How do you see this playing out in the next few years? What role does wearable tech have in this?

I think it’s already starting to play out. There have been reports already this year that GPs have begun to prescribe health club memberships as a preventative measure for things such as depression, obesity and heart problems.

While that is a start, it still relies on a personal perception of health rather than irrefutable data.

Currently we know everything about the environment that we’re in, but we know nothing about the environment within. The right use of wearable tech and associated health insights will help keep people fit physically and mentally as well as ensuring they stay in touch with exactly what’s going on with their own body.

The possibilities of Prevayl isn’t just about individual health and fitness. Performance, and specifically team performance can be enhanced. So, how can health and cognitive insights improve the collective team performance?

It has a ripple effect. Understanding where all the key players in those teams are and how they’re performing is crucial because any break in the linkage is going to create more issues.

Take Formula 1. The tyres need to be changed in under 2.5 seconds for example. By being on point with all their tasks, the team around the driver can keep them going throughout the race, but if they’re struggling and underperforming themselves it has a wider effect.

The guys in the pit all work in harmony together and if one of them is slightly off, it has a big impact. If one can’t twist his back the right way for example the whole team is let down by that millisecond of difference. These fine margins are crucial.

Now if this is a problem with his back, an old underlying injury, or an obvious illness it can be easily monitored and managed. Other external factors can also be spotted and managed simply.

Maybe certain team members need a rest, potentially a good massage will sort out a lack of flexibility, or perhaps a bit more practice will iron out any inconsistencies.

The internal side is much more complicated though. What about stress, problems at home, an illness that’s building but that person doesn’t yet have any symptoms?  

We’re giving teams the opportunity to monitor this.

Coaches can see when a heart rate is raised, and someone is breathing more heavily. If they are stressed it can be illustrated through the data. The individual might not have spotted it yet, but the coach can see it and do something about it.

They can make the people within the team better by changing things they haven’t even noticed yet. These marginal gains feed into the ripple effect of performance to help the team work as one.

Health and fitness is obviously hugely important for you. How do you keep on top of it during start-up life? How will Prevayl’s solutions be used to enhance community wellness?

My commute for me is thinking time. I think when I run, I can think when I can cycle, and I can probably think more clearly because it takes you to a type of meditative state.

I also make sure I’m disciplined. On a typical day I’ll get up early and do 40 minutes to an hour of yoga or gym. Then I cycle in – it’s around 13 miles.

That’s my personal approach. When it comes to community wellness, it’s focused on the wider approach. Real-time information across the workforce on individual wellbeing and personal performance enables a continued monitoring of community wellness. Employers can then make strategic decisions on how to improve things for their employees, with an ability to measure the impact too with actionable, validated and quantifiable insights.

It will be revolutionary.

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Consumer participation, innovation & technological change

Consumers demand personalisation. They desire a unique experience that is bespoke to them. This in turn forces brands and industries to evolve, innovate and invest in tech.

Desire and demand as the driver for change is what brings new ideas and trends to fruition. What we’re seeing now is the desire of individuals to participate in their own experience whether healthcare, shopping, or entertainment.

This notion of participation is central to our work at Prevayl®, and it’s something that we’re seeing become increasingly important across a range of sectors. This trend is only set to become more prominent in 2020.

Adidas LDN

Adidas’ new flagship store opened on London’s Oxford Street this week, promising to be its most technologically advanced retail experience anywhere in the world. Central to each of the innovations in the 27,000 sq. ft store is consumer participation.

These include interactive mirrors in shopping rooms enabling shoppers to order different sizes direct from the stockroom, as well as the ability to use geolocation technology to scan products, check stock, request their size and purchase on the spot.

There’s also a giant LED screen showing the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal fans can take selfies in full kit, and bespoke rooms including the MakerLab, Running Lab and The Base.

Key to the concept is the participatory element of the consumer experience. Individuals take part in their own unique shopping experience. They own it and in the words of Adidas, “can come together to create”.

Fashion & Consumer Participation

Participation takes the notion of personalisation one step further. It’s much more than personalised ads and brand communication; it’s all about the experience.

Burberry has just announced a partnership with Tencent to develop the concept of social retail in China, blending social media and retail by creating digital and physical experiences for luxury consumers. These will be both in-store and online.

An initial concept store will open in Shenzhen to test and learn social innovations to engage customers.

The world of fashion and gaming are set to converge with the next stage in participatory experiences with the concept provided by streetwear label Alive & More.

The concept is a simple but effective one. Users download the app for the game Team Relms. Once in the game they travel to the virtual fashion world and unlock their very real garments. It’s win-win for both the label and the game. Users on the other hand get the chance to take part in a unique experience and gain access to some exclusive new clothes.

Wearables, Healthcare and Individual Participation

The desire for personal participation isn’t just behind recent innovations in retail, fashion and gaming. It is also fuelling one of the biggest healthcare trends of 2020; the capability of individuals to take ownership of their own health data and truly participate in their personal health.

Wearable technology has always tapped into the notion of individual participation. It adds an extra element to the personal experience whether focusing on sporting performance or general health.

Previous technology has limited the extent of this, however. Without the full picture of how the body reacts when it experiences different things, there isn’t the real opportunity to participate in your own healthcare.

At Prevayl, we’re changing that.

Our wearable technology is seamlessly integrated into clothing. It has the ability to receive more bio-data from the human body than any current leading wearable device. Crucially, it will power the largest ever known platform of human insights.

Wearing Prevayl-enabled connected-clothing daily ensures users will have their own personal curated health management system. They can interact and participate with their own health data, gaining healthy insights to enhance their sporting performance and improve their health.

This is where the desire for participation is driving the next innovation in healthcare.

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Esports and health insights: Protecting the current and next generation

Esports is a huge business and a commercial juggernaut.

Increased commercialisation, global reach and worldwide popularity has seen the players themselves become recognised as esports athletes. For many teenagers this promises a genuine career option, but potentially an incredibly short one.

The average time at the top is just two years. Burnout in early 20s is a very real thing. Children in their teens are pushing hard to go pro. The questions are, what is this doing to their health and how can it be monitored?

Is it increasing their stress levels? Will it impact their posture? Can it cause gaming disorders? Parents might want to set time limits, but how do they know what the right limit is and what impact it will have?

Where parents may view gaming as a bit of fun for their child, they themselves are viewing it as training for their future career. Protecting the current and next generation of esports athletes is essential.

Health issues associated with gaming

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are a number of health-related issues associated with long periods of inactivity due to gaming. These include obesity and sleep disorders, as well as blood clots and posture problems.

Gaming disorders can also be linked with anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which can be difficult to spot in younger people until they fully manifest themselves.

This is surely one of the biggest worries for parents.

Protecting the next generation of esports athletes

It’s a juggling act. Parents want to protect the health of their children, while they want to hone their gaming skills. An essential balance needs to be struck between the two.

The pre-emptive healthy insights provided by the Prevayl™ platform offers this happy medium.

By tracking individual health-data in real-time as children game, immediate health insights will be provided focusing on their heart rate, levels of stress, breathing patterns and all manner of physiological data. Put simply, we’ll know exactly what’s going on with them as they game.

Crucially there will be the insight on when they should stop and most importantly the pre-emptive health insights that can signpost them away from stress and gaming disorders.

By enabling children and parents the opportunity to participate together with access to essential data and healthy insights, both will have actionable knowledge on the impact of gaming. Decisions can be made together based on key insight.

It isn’t just the next generation of gamers that require protection. The current crop of esports athletes are facing their own issues.

Esports, doping and burnout

Esports athletes are burning out in their 20s. They’re gaming for up to 80 hours a week and many of them are taking performance enhancing substances.

Doping is a real issue in esports, with players admitting taking the likes of psychostimulant Adderall.

The sport is slowly catching up with regulation. The World Esports Association (WESA) has rules and regulations which state: “Doping and anti-doping rule violations will be sanctioned in accordance with the Sanctions Regulations”, although there has yet to be any formal sanctions.

The Electronic Sports League (ESL) is also developing their own anti-doping regime, while games publishers have reacted strongly against it.

Protecting the health of esports athletes is paramount. Good mental and physical health in turn breads performance.

Protecting the current generation of esports athletes

For the top gamers, 80 hour week schedules may be difficult to avoid, but with real-time health and performance insights they can be managed.

By capturing more data on the body’s performance than ever before and translating this into actionable up-to-the-second insights, professional esports athletes and their coaches will have the full picture of how their body works while gaming.

They will know what happens in the most stressful gaming situations, how they operate at peak performance, when they can push themselves healthily and when they need some essential downtime to keep themselves fresh.

Immediate reporting and the ability to react instantly pre-empting stress and performance issues is where the real benefit comes for esports athletes. Signs that are difficult to see by the naked eye, or when caught up in the moment will be clear. The continual stream of data will pre-empt and protect, as well as promising the essential marginal gains to drive peak performance.

Our final thoughts

The rise of esports is only going to gather momentum in the face of increased global popularity and commercialisation.

The health of the athletes has to be paramount. Essential protection must be in place to guarantee performance. This is our role at Prevayl™.

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