4 min read

Making Data-Driven Decisions About Behavior

September 20, 2019

This week our team had the pleasure of meeting with Lindsay Ayearst, Ph.D., Principal Scientific Advisor at Multi-Health Systems (MHS). MHS is one of our lead investors and partners in research, and we were excited to get together and plan a future research study for Revibe.

One of the things we shared with Dr. Ayearst was something that we have been working on internally, as we analyze some of our users’ de-identified data. Because Revibe has the ability to collect data on movement (not just steps, but also fidgets and other movements), we are able to start analyzing how exercise (measured by steps) impacts focus.

We started the conversation by explaining to Lindsay how we define fidgets. “The wrist acts as a proxy for the body,’ explained Rich Brancaccio (our CEO). “Our machine learning algorithm analyzes movement data from our six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope to detect repetitive movements that are non-academically functional.” These are reported to the user in our app as “Fidgets”. Fidgets can be extreme or fast movements, or something repetitive like tapping a pencil on a desk.

What’s interesting is that we are able to see step count and how it correlates with our users’ fidgeting and focus/attention patterns. We are starting to see trends that validate what science is already telling us.

Many studies have already shown how exercise impacts our ability to learn and focus. Dr. John J. Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote a book on this topic called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. He says exercise improves learning in three ways. "First, it optimizes your mindset to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus." 

With Revibe, we can see the correlation between steps and focus on the individual level, as well as aggregate patterns across all our users. We are starting to look at how the time of day in which the exercise occurred could play a role. We can see how exercise in the afternoon or evening impacts focus on the following school day. While we already deliver this data to our users via the Revibe App, we are working towards using the data to create personalized insights to help people make sense of their own patterns.

student uses revibe to focus in the classroom

Anyone who regularly exercises can feel that this is a healthy habit, and may even be able to feel a decrease in their productivity when they go through a sedentary stretch. For someone who has never had a consistent exercise routine, it may be hard to see how much of a difference exercise could make in their quality of life. What Revibe is doing is connecting the dots to help people become more aware of these patterns, and providing objective data to support our understanding of ourselves. This is helpful as people start to shift small habits, giving them data-backed observations of the impact on their productivity.

The ability to give people this objective data on their behavior patterns is groundbreaking. Historically, most people have relied on their subjective perceptions of their behavior to make decisions about their health. Our recall of our own behavior is not usually accurate, so we may make uninformed decisions about our lifestyle or health interventions as a result. 

Incorporating Revibe into one’s lifestyle routine gives people a way to collect data, and begin to experiment to better understand which interventions are helping. Data becomes a teaching tool that allows people to be more objective about their behavior and experience.

"Imagine if people actually become better self-regulators because the data teaches them about themselves," said Dr. Ayearst. "What if on a daily basis I'm learning if what I did mattered?" 

We are working towards being able to deliver these personalized insights about these patterns to our users. This will help people understand what their baseline was when they began using the device, and what patterns have emerged over time. As Dr. Ayearst put it, “Revibe is creating a within person norm.” Often clinicians will compare patient’s behavior metrics to the general population, giving them a context for where they fall compared to other people. Revibe is shifting that mindset of comparison by allowing people to simply focus on their own trends and work towards improvement as an individual. This is a more empowered approach, that helps people to celebrate small wins and make true progress.

Each person is unique and needs an approach that is individualized. Our team is leveraging machine learning to adapt to the individual, and offer data-backed personalized insights that help people understand how their body and mind are connected, and how to use lifestyle and other interventions to optimally improve their outcomes.

Stay tuned for an update to the Revibe App in the coming weeks where we will be rolling out the first of our personalized insights! 


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Lara Hill

Written by Lara Hill

Lara has over a decade of experience in digital marketing, and has been helping grow Revibe since 2016. She's also a yoga instructor with a background in health promotion. Lara has a passion for helping people take back control of their own health and productivity. As the Marketing Director at Revibe, she feels fortunate to be advocating for the use of technology in positive, health-promoting ways. In those precious moments outside of work and parenting (she’s a mom to two teens), she likes to go paddleboarding or just lay around with a good book.