Tag: Wearable tech

“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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Adam Crofts, CEO of Prevayl: 2019’s Key Learnings

Adam Crofts co-founded Prevayl® in April 2019. With the business enjoying huge growth before the end of the year, we sat down with the CEO to find out about his three biggest learnings from 2019.

Recruitment

Getting recruitment right was of fundamental importance to Prevayl this year.

The first step was to identify those areas where the business needed to excel. We then began a detailed search to secure the best possible people to make it a reality. Finding talent is just one aspect. They also need the desire, hunger and drive to propel us in the right direction.

The big challenge for me as a CEO was the fact I simply couldn’t be everywhere. We’ve undergone rapid growth in such a short space of time. That means it’s essential to find the best leaders who enable me to focus on certain tasks to ensure as a team we’re excelling in the right areas.

This is something we’ve done extremely well and will endeavour to do in 2020, as our team continues to grow at such a fast rate.

Alignment and Strategy

This has been a fundamental requirement from day one.

With what the business has set out to achieve, the scope and possibilities are huge. The team we have built have so many innovative and ground-breaking ideas, it’s vital that we keep the right direction and build these new ideas into the product suite when the time is right.

Again this comes back to getting an experienced and innovative team together. We’ve made some crucial hires from a strategic perspective to ensure we are all aligned with the right strategy, vision and goals. Always reverting back to this ensures we can move quickly when it comes to launching our products.

Collaboration is key for product development

Cross-department collaboration is of course always encouraged within the business. I find that the best ideas come from bringing a cross-section of people together and letting the ideas flow. At Prevayl, we have what I call an “eclectic mix of amazing minds”. Put them in a room together and some brilliant ideas will come. I’m genuinely excited to see what they come up with.

This same attitude needs to apply to the market you operate in also. While competition can drive innovation to ensure the end users get the best possible products, service or experience, collaboration can potentially push it further.

The Prevayl platform and health-tech ecosystem, Base, provides essential health insights to the end user. It isn’t closed off, however.

We could potentially see other businesses in this space as competition. We’re turning it the other way and encouraging collaboration by ensuring that wearable tech providers can work with us to improve their own offering. It’s my belief that this collaboration will drive innovation in the sector and ensure that users continue to receive tailored, personal and actionable health insights.

We’ll be hearing from Adam again soon when he’ll be discussing his ambitions for Prevayl in 2020.

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Start-up Culture: Our Approach to Community Wellness

Remote working, flexibility, a vibrant office environment. This is the minimum employees expect when it comes to start-up culture.

Those businesses that are going above and beyond and focusing on community wellness, employee healthcare, and staff happiness are those that are breaking the mould and offering employees a true advanced environment in which to spend their daily working lives.

This is our approach at Prevayl®. Our technology has the capability to revolutionise individual health and performance across multiple industries. This has to begin with our own staff.

The desire for employee benefits  

According to a recent study, the quality and flexibility of health benefits was the most important factor for employees, with close to 90% citing this as their number one consideration when looking for new opportunities.

Other key benefits included perks that help to improve mental well-being, such as flexible working and gym memberships. Paid time off and annual leave is of course the minimum requirement, but for a high volume of employees, of all genders, an employers’ parental leave policy is of crucial importance.

So, how are leading businesses catering to this employee desire?

Burberry Parental Leave

At the end of November, Burberry announced the introduction of a new global parental leave policy.

Under the new policy all employees are offered 18 weeks of parental leave at full pay, with the opportunity to work a 30-hour week at full pay for an additional four weeks once they return to work.

Coming into effect in April, the policy will apply across the business worldwide, having a huge impact in those countries with much lower periods of statutory maternity and paternity leave.

Burberry’s aim is to create an open and inclusive environment, to give their staff the best possible experience, and the opportunities to continue to succeed in their roles during times of change in their personal lives.

Statutory parental leave may no longer cater to modern needs, Burberry is recognising the opportunity to do something different.

Amazon Care

October saw the pilot healthcare service go live for Amazon employees in and around the Seattle area.

The scheme, which is soon expected to be rolled out to Amazon staff across the board, offers virtual and in-person care, with telemedicine via app, chat and remote video. Follow up visits can be arranged, and medicine delivery is even included; unsurprisingly this applies to delivery to Amazon offices but also an employee’s home.

Amazon is just the latest of the Silicon Valley tech giants to offer this kind of staff healthcare scheme as a compulsory part of the employee benefits package. This is an innovative step right now, but you can expect it to become the norm in a just a few years’ time for tech companies of this scale.

Prevayl’s approach to community wellness

Our approach is to enhance the wellness of everyone within our Prevayl community.

The Prevayl team is packed with talent and creative minds from the worlds of technology, fashion design, data science, electronics, finance, marketing and Biosignal processing.

They each face daily challenges from solving complex problems, building innovative tech solutions and travelling the world. Keeping them physically and mentally healthy, well and fresh is of crucial importance.

Whilst our technology is set to provide the platform for individuals across the world to take ownership of their own healthcare data, for us innovation starts at home.

Individual health eco-system

Through the combination of our full coverage wearable and health-management platform, our employees have access to their own individual health eco-system. This provides access to their personal health data and offers the opportunity to take ownership of their individual health and well-being.

Whilst employees want benefits that cater to positive mental health, often individuals lack the self-awareness to know when work is beginning to impact this.

Each of our Prevayl employees’ individual dashboards ensure that the signs that are sometimes difficult to recognise, like stress indicators, will be clear to see.

The constant monitoring of their body’s signals provides a continuous stream of data and insight into how they react during moments of stress, illustrating when to slow down and when they can healthily push themselves. These daily reminders enable each individual to be guided on a gradual incline of improvement and self-awareness, with the foundation to make the right decisions for their personal working lives, every day.

Importantly it enables them to be healthy and happy at work.

The future

This is just the start for our staff. This technology and the insight into performance and health at work will begin to become the expectation amongst employees.

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Hardware is Hard

It’s a common phrase often seen in headlines to show the latest tech flop. While there is some truth behind the myth. Often there are number of reasons why start-ups building hardware fail; from team alignment to poor market position, hands-off manufacturing to dreaded ‘feature creep’.

Hardware start-ups are expanding; global hardware accelerator HAX knows this better than anyone and details the latest trends in its yearly report. TechCrunch recently reported on HAX’s findings. The report highlighted several vital insights: hardware companies are increasingly entering the public market, and more privately-held hardware startups are exceeding a valuation of $1 billion. Of those unicorns, more than 50% are Chinese hardware companies. Google’s recent acquisition of FitBit is the latest in a long line of acquisitions that focus on hardware (Nest Labs, Dropcam, Motorola Mobility, HTC talent).

Developing an end-to-end system and designing our hardware in house keeps Prevayl® ahead of the competition. We aren’t at the mercy of existing platforms; we aren’t limited by other manufacturer’s devices which are often built upon outdated legacy designs. Having our own end-to-end platform, with our own ground breaking electronics means that we are in control of a wearer’s data at every stage, and never goes through an unknown third party.

We are designing from the ground up, putting the garment first and seamlessly integrating the electronics with invisibility. Pulling the focus away from the clever technology, and putting the onus on the ease of use for the consumer and the transparency of their data flow.

We are eagerly building out our hardware capability, hiring the best minds in the global wearable electronics’ space, allowing us to design and iterate faster than the competition and bring product to market faster without relying on the limitations of third parties. We are currently expanding our hardware hub here in the UK and are keen to utilise the best that UK manufacturing has to offer. Most importantly we are able to blend hardware, garment and software at the point of inception, rather than building a system that has to align with existing products.

We at Prevayl dispel the myth of hardware and take a slightly different stance

Hardware is different.

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Google and Fitbit: The increased importance of health data

In today’s world data is currency. It’s at the centre of big business buyouts and is the facilitator of the next potential stage of human evolution. Unsurprisingly it’s dominated much of the discussion about recent developments surrounding Google and Fitbit.

For many people data’s a scary concept, but when framed in the context of personalisation it becomes more palatable, acceptable and then for some even desired.

So, why is data so important? It helps us learn more about groups of people and individuals and crucially it helps the provision of a tailored and personalised experience. Personalisation is key and has been the real driving force behind the concept of data as currency.

The desire for personalisation

More than half of consumers demand products that have been personalised for them in some way, while as many as 72% of online users will only engage with ads that are personal and tailored. This is despite 86% being worried about the use of their personal data.

This is where the data conundrum plays out for consumers.

For many there are question marks over why personal data is so important, but it’s their own desires, needs and demands that has driven the trend. Tech giants are using this data collection to gleam better user insights to tailor their offerings and personalise their products in a way that will benefit consumers.

Consumer desire has effectively created the market itself. Yet questions still remain, and data often becomes an unnecessarily negative buzzword.

This balance between data concern and data desire is currently being played out with the recent buyout of Fitbit by Google.

The detail is in the data

As soon as the deal was first announced, questions were being asked and both parties were quick to address the issue.

Users will have control over their data, data collection will always be transparent, personal information won’t be sold, and health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads.

There’s been plenty of media hype in this area.

What has been ignored in many circles is the potential impact on the healthcare industry. Again this plays into the acceptability and desirability of data being collected.

Google and Fitbit were already working together and announced a partnership in 2018 to bring health and fitness data to doctors and healthcare services. At this time Fitbit’s intention was to use Google Healthcare API to integrate Fitbit data into medical records. This comes on the back of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, running projects under its Verily Life Sciences research organisation facilitating a move into the health-monitoring space.

When we talk about data driving the next stage of human evolution, healthcare insights is set to be the real catalyst in this area. In line with this, the work we’re doing at Prevayl ® is set to drive one of the biggest health trends for 2020 and the coming years; the capability of individuals to take ownership of their own health data.

The importance of the partnership

Google has already been making headway into healthcare, so was the buyout necessary? Could the two have coexisted without the need to come together and raise questions about the use of data?

With this deal, Google gets hardware and software teams with wearable-tech expertise. That immediately brings knowledge of product development for a successful and desirable consumer-focused wearable device. Add this to previous technology that was bought earlier this year and it shows the importance of getting the hardware right, something that Google hasn’t always done.

What they have traditionally always done well is the software, whether that’s the use of machine learning or AI. With the collaboration in this area, the results for the end users will be an even more personalised experience.

Data collection, extrapolation and analysis will fuel personalisation. Fitbit users will just be the beginning.

Personalisation and an insight-driven healthcare experience

At Prevayl, we’re creating the world’s most advanced health-tech ecosystem.

Through the creation of wearable technology that is seamlessly integrated into clothing, we’re providing the opportunity to make wearable clothing ubiquitous. First through the ease and use for the consumer, secondly through the ability to ensure adoption and utilisation by multiple brands and industries.

With the collection of more bio-data from the human body than any current leading wearable device, we’re powering the largest ever known platform of human insights. Data is central to our ability as a healthy insights provider.

This advanced facilitation of data collection doesn’t just promise increased personalisation in the healthcare sector, it offers the opportunity for users to have their own personal curated heath management system.

They have the ability to interact and participate with their own health data and gain pre-emptive healthy insights that will signpost them away from illness and towards better health.

This is the importance of data and individual healthcare insights for the next potential stage in human evolution. 

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Meet our CEO, Adam Crofts  

Adam Crofts, co-founded Prevayl™ in April 2019. We sat down with our CEO to find out how the journey’s been so far, a little more about him and the possibilities of Prevayl™.   

What gets you up in the morning?   

The motivation to push Prevayl™ to where we know it can be. We’ve got a team of people that are working at full capacity and you want to be there for them, to make sure you’re leading everyone in the same direction.

I believe in a balanced life and have always maintained that a work life balance is crucial to ensure you and your team are running at full potential and most importantly, happy. Everyone needs to come up for air and be offline and we try to respect and maintain this company wide.

Sometimes it can feel like there’s so much to do that you can’t stop for even an hour of a day as you may miss an opportunity. That’s why having a happy healthy team in place team is so important: we work together; we work smarter to make the right decisions for the business.

What is the role of a modern CEO in a start up?

I believe the role of a modern CEO has to be more inclusive. It’s about surrounding myself with the best possible minds with the right strategic approach to help us achieve our mission. The guys in the team are all seasoned professionals and have the ability and desire to drive the business forward.

It’s crucial for me to ensure that we’re all aligned, working towards the same vision. The talent in the business will then help us achieve our goals.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?   

Speak to and get advice from as many different people as possible, to make informed decisions. Don’t try and do absolutely everything yourself.

Remember to listen. A lot. Don’t initially act on that first piece of advice or insight given. Get the biggest range of feedback that you possibly can from as many different sources and consider it. It’s important to take time to make decisions, as well as making sure you have perspective surrounding a situation and other people to bounce ideas off.

When you’re first starting out, it can be too easy to get pressured into decisions and easy to get influenced. What may have worked for someone might not always be the best way. There are always other ways to do things.

I always like to let people talk a lot. I then digest it and think what’s the best approach for me.

What’s been the biggest challenge in the first seven months of Prevayl™?

Alignment is a big challenge.

With what we’re doing, the scale and the scope is so big, that keeping the right direction is paramount.

If you can get an experienced, innovative team together, aligned and working towards the same goal, you can begin to move fast. The earlier you get that vision and alignment, the faster you can move.

How did the idea for Prevayl™ first come about?   

It first came about from being obsessed about the body, performance, and how to improve and importantly maintain one’s own health.

I started looking into all these areas with the notion that with data you can always create valuable insights. So the question was, how do you extract data from the body?

That got me looking at existing wearable technology. I did extensive research into other brands from around the world and the capability of the technology, looking at what data they could acquire from the body and in what format.

The idea for us was to be able to receive more information from the body than all of these put together and feed it through in real-time to create pre-emptive insights.

The whole idea is based around how to look ahead of time at what’s about to happen, whether in performance or in healthcare, and be able to act before it actually happens.

It was with this idea that I first thought about developing wearable technology that could feed this kind of infrastructure to give these predictive insights, to help you know ahead of time the balances in your body, how to steer away from pulling a muscle or stop yourself getting an injury, or just how to live better.

What are you doing differently to other wearable tech companies?   

Firstly, we don’t want to be known as a wearables company. Wearables, either Prevayl™-owned or Prevayl™-enabled, is the initial vehicle to feed data on the human body into our unique platform.

Through the development of the Prevayl™ platform, we’re creating a heath-tech ecosystem that provides human insights in line with the data recorded by the wearables. We view Prevayl as a health insights provider.

One key thing we’re doing is not closing ourselves off. We could see other businesses in this space as competition, but actually through our platform they can work with us to improve their own offering. That’s one main difference.

Secondly, everything now is focused on historic information that you have to download and react to. What we’re trying to do is create information streaming in real-time so you can react on it in real-time. With the AI we’re applying comes the idea of a pre-emptive diagnosis and vital signposts towards a healthier, more informed life.

Our wearables are also different. They’re something you can interact with daily, that won’t run out of battery in an hour, or that you have to consciously activate. These are clothes that you wear every single day, and from brands that you already wear. You can wash them, work, go out and train in them. You don’t have to make a conscious choice.

Where do you see the business in the future?

I see us as a tool that enhances peoples lives, that empowers people to take healthcare into their own hands and make conscious decisions on their lifestyles based on their own data.

I still see us being the leading provider in biometric data, but the changes will be in how we visualise and interact with this information, enabling everyone to create their own personalised health eco-system.  

Now we need phones, in five years’ time there may not be any use of phones, but everyone is always going to wear clothes. 

By 2025 it’s expected that at least 10% of the apparel market will be connected and constantly receiving information from your body. 

The likes of immersive reality will potentially be how we interpret it.   

How important is data for the future of healthcare?   

Data and self-monitoring is the future of healthcare.

People will be able to make informed decisions and will be able to act fast ahead of time. There’ll be no miss-diagnosis. Real-time information will be key.

How can the use of the Prevayl™ eco-system help people to be better in the long run?

The biodata in our platform is just one aspect of it. This will provide amazing insights on its own.

It’s when you look at the information from the rest of your life that you really see the potential.

When you look at your sleeping pattern, how many emails you answer in a day, your driving and travelling habits, as well as your spending habits. By building up this holistic view in one platform, you’ll be able to understand your health and emotional behaviour. There isn’t another platform in the world that can offer that.

What is the ultimate goal for Prevayl™?  

I want to immerse people in their own healthcare information so that they can interact with it and make judgements that steer them towards the right decisions, that is always based on informed decisions regarding their own health data.

Clothing is our initial method of data capture from the body as it’s something that people can wear day in day out. The vision is a wardrobe full of connective and enabled clothing that betters your life.

This is just the start.

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