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Maintain your balance, effortlessly.

The Challenge

‘Five behaviors drive the 75% of chronic diseases: lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol and poor sleep’. These factors play a huge part in mental wellbeing as well and physical health. If we could change behavior around these factors, we could live happier, healthier and longer lives.

Telefonica are a Spanish multinational broadband and telecommunications provider, they came to us for support with developing Alpha Health; their innovation lab improving people’s health and wellbeing. The question they posed to us, a group of Service Designers at Royal College of Art was ‘What kind of digital services could help people take control of their behaviour to achieve their own health and wellbeing goals?’

We carried out a 3 month long speculative project, looking at how we could best harness emerging AI technologies and Telefonica’s data to make people happier and healthier.

The Research

We concentrated on the idea of creating balance through 6 key elements; exercise, food, sleep, social, work and alone time in order to achieve optimal mental wellbeing.

We conducted 18 interviews with people from 22–70 to understand how people felt about balance and how much they felt it affected their wellbeing. We also wanted to understand which factors impacted on that balance, and whether they felt they were achieving their optimal balance.

We designed this mental wellbeing balance tool. The tool allowed people to mark down where their ideal balance would be, as well as where they felt they were at with their balance that week. It acted as prompt to ask people to reflect on which elements they feel are most important, and which elements they are currently prioritizing. We noticed a pattern; the majority of people we spoke to didn’t feel they were achieving their optimal mental wellbeing balance.

Lifestyle Changes
‘After my break up I just slept and slept, I didn’t want to exercise.’
Sleep, exercise and socialising can support a person’s mental wellbeing through a large lifestyle change, but they often become compromised at the time when people need them most.

Environmental Factors
‘I like going to my gym because it’s small and close to my home, it’s got green around it.’
Environment has a huge effect on lifestyle choice. Proximity to the gym, fast food establishments, as well as how people around you are behaving affects your choices.

Balance is Hard
‘I’m not getting the sleep I need because of my work.’
People felt that they were constantly unable to achieve their optimal amount of exercise, food, sleep, social, work and alone time in order to achieve mental wellbeing. This was either due to factors outside their control or choices that they made.

The Solution

Gaia is an intelligent platform balancing your wellbeing, through interventions delivered by partners as well as your smart appliances and devices.

Gaia helps you to optimize your balance by collecting data through your devices and smart appliances, and then intervening through those same technologies. A good example of this is how Gaia optimizes your sleep; she understands your optimal level of sleep and your schedule. At bedtime she links with your blinds and closes them, gradually switches your devices into night-mode and dims the lights. When it’s time to wake in the morning she opens the blinds, and plays your favourite music to wake you.

Gaia creates the environment you need to maintain your optimal wellbeing balance; but she doesn’t give you much choice. When you need more salad, she simply gets salad delivered to you. When you haven’t had enough sleep, she turns off all your devices. Gaia is a provocation to understand what effects positive behavior change, and how comfortable people are with AI using their personal data.

The Business + Data Model

Gaia is designed to be owned by Telefonica and funded by the NHS. The NHS currently spends 11bn on preventable illnesses, so we see Gaia’s preventative approach as saving money in healthcare. Gaia collects your individual data, if you give verbal consent. That data is then used to ensure that the interventions are tailored to you to achieve the best possible balance. You can also give permission for their data to be used by policy makers, in order to create better-informed policy.

A key feature of Gaia is that it allows Doctors to make digital prescriptions. This is when a doctor prescribes more exercise, or sleep or another lifestyle change in order to improve your health. Only with the patient’s consent will doctors be able to use this feature.

Gaia utilizes a large amount of data in order to create a personalized set of interventions to optimize your balance. Drawing on the Government’s Data Science Ethics Framework and the Learning Healthcare Project ETA Approach we created an ethical framework for how that data would be used and stored.

The Team

Federico Carbo
Charlotte Fountaine
Vanessa Karaoglou