In honor of World Health Day, on April 7 a new virtual assistant called Shae launched on Kickstarter, and it has already surpassed its $100,000 goal. Introduced as “Siri for your health,” Shae is designed not just to track your well-being, but to improve it, and in a way that’s unique to each user as an individual.
Where other suggestion software assumes people of a certain weight or activity level are the same, Shae recognizes that every person is different. The app works in conjunction with your wearables, but it also takes an analysis of your “phenotype,” allowing it to take into account your genes, your environment, your activities, what you eat, and when you sleep, in order to personalize recommendations on all the aspects of your life.
Related: Who’s tracking your fitness tracker? We asked an expert
Bex, the VP of product for Shae, explained how it works to Digital Trends. “We are all born with a blueprint (our genes) but what is important to our everyday health is how those genes are activated (gene expression) … What you do in your everyday life affects that gene expression — the foods you eat, stress you’re under, the people you talk to, the climate, etc.” As an example, working out in the morning in cold Wisconsin may be great for one person and not so great for another.
“After quantifying who you are today, Shae connects you with the specific science genius that is relevant to you, holds your hand and leads you to the happiest, healthiest version of you possible.” Shae uses over 10,000 data points and over 500 algorithms to figure out what advice to offer. The idea is to offer suggestions that seamlessly lead to a healthier lifestyle. While other systems do take your unique stats into account, they simply aren’t as detailed as Shae.
Bex told us Shae’s setup is easy. “The user inputs their data in a simple multiple choice questionnaire in ph360.” PH360 is the in-depth health information network that offers reference points for Shae. Shae takes personalized health to the next level. “This includes anthropometric body measurements taken with a soft tape measure and questions about your current lifestyle, history, and ancestry … (Down the track, we will create the scanning technology to do this automatically from your smart device, but for now, the humble tape measure is the most reliable.)”
You have full control over what Shae knows, but the more she knows, the better guidance she can offer. With a subscription to ph360, and access to apps like your calendar, she can give you gentle nudges about when and how to exercise, when to take a break and visit friends, or when to order a meal.
Shae will do more than just interact. She’ll do it in a way that doesn’t become annoying. “We all communicate in different ways,” Bex explained. “Shae will talk to you in the way that best matches your neurotype (which is calculated from your phenotype) so you ‘get it’ easily.”
Even Shae’s interactions are customized. “For one person voice may be a better way for them to communicate because they predominantly use the area of their brain that responds to sound. Shae may communicate with another person in text format because sound can be stressful to them, or another person with more emojis because they are very emotional in the way they communicate and use the area of the brain that relies on visualization.”
Related: Siri looks into the flames, teases Jon Snow’s fate
Shae can even guess a user’s happiness level and try to cheer them up if they’re down. Wearables come in here, too. “Mood calculations are determined by physiological changes in the body, measured by wearables,” Bex commented. The app puts your data like heart rate to use in real-time, rather than simply tracking it or using it to suggest workouts. Bex added that “Shae connects this information to the ph360 engine and then provides you with a solution that can change your mood, such as brain frequency music or visual stimulus, like a funny video. Again, customized to your most natural communication style and learned from your habits.”
The Shae campaign still has a little less than a month to go before it ends. The company is on a mission to improve the way we understand health worldwide, so if you grab an annual subscription to Shae for $75 the company will donate one to a person in need. It also comes with a lifetime renewal for $75, in place of the $197 which that will cost after launch. Shae should be ready in September 2016.