News and features

Whole-hearted approach to innovation

Most entrepreneurs can pinpoint a moment when their invention or idea came to them, but there are probably none who can claim that their own death was the catalyst for their innovation.

Except, perhaps, Dr David Plans. David, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Surrey Business School, literally died at Brussels airport but was resuscitated on the way to hospital. He was told that he had had a very lucky escape and needed to change his life to avoid too much stress, a contributing factor to his collapse.

“Stress nearly killed me, and made me re-evaluate my life,” said David. “I wanted to take my background in music and computer science and build tools that would help people connect with their bodies and understand stress better.”

The result is BioBeats, a start-up in San Francisco/London/Pisa that builds adaptive media solutions for stress management, that David co-founded. This includes an iPhone app that records the pulse of your heart and generates custom music in any genre you choose. If your heartbeat suggests you are stressed, it can play music to calm you down, or, if you’re feeling lethargic, the app will play an energising beat.

Users press their fingers over the camera flash which allows the software to detect tiny changes in the finger’s colour as blood flows, determining heart-rate and, in turn, measuring how stressed you are.

David has already had experience of working with the NHS on a mobile application that will let users self-report on chronic illness, and sees BioBeats as an opportunity for people to understand their cardiovascular health.

David said: “We believe that our media and devices should react to us and not the other way around. We can improve people’s moods but also show at what times during the week they get the most stressed – user s can then look to see if there is something they can do about it.”

The app is just the start for David; he and his colleagues at BioBeats are looking to expand adaptive media to encompass other areas of our daily lives: “One day, your thermostat will adapt to your blood pressure, your movie playlist will send you recommendations based on you and your partners’ current stress level, and your refrigerator will suggest foods based on your blood sugar.”

Discover more at the BioBeats website.

Related news and features