David Plans

Dr. David Plans is an adaptive media researcher and entrepreneur. In his early career and doctoral work, he looked to computational intelligence, in particular genetic co-evolution, to create reflexive media systems that imitated and queried the nature of human creativity.

He created the first European merger for Open Source startups and helped the National Health Service one of the first mobile applications to let users self-report in chronic illness.

He has given papers and performances at the International Computer Music Conference, the European Conference on Artificial Life, IRCAM, the Darwin Symposium, and the Computer Arts Society in London, and more recently, has published on human emotion in play (affective modelling for games) in IEEE Computational Intelligence transactions and Frontiers Journal of Human Neuroscience.

His industrial work, which has focused on creating mobile applications for mental health, is now focused on biobeats.com, a startup in San Francisco/London/Pisa that builds artificial intelligence solutions for human wellbeing in both consumer and insurance/workforce management.

Sensors, artificial intelligence and big data are not only changing healthcare, they are transforming the workplace and may even reinvent the insurance sector. Stress takes its toll on all of us. It affects our mental health and is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. It also costs employers tens of thousands of euro per year while the healthcare costs for governments and private insurers run into the billions. My start-up company, BioBeats, began with a mission to reduce people’s stress. We use biometric sensor technologies to understand stress and offer proven interventions that can reduce its impact. Wearables and smartphones can collect a wealth of data which are fed into artificial intelligence algorithms to anticipate moments of stress and deliver targeting interventions. By collecting biometric data for a couple of weeks, we can predict how you’ll sleep tonight or how you will perform at work next week. Opportunities in occupational health At first, we developed this product for the general public. The app, Hear and Now , is in the app store and teaches powerful deep-breathing exercises. These interventions are based on evidence-based techniques backed up by robust science. It soon became clear to us that the market for a tool like this is much bigger than stressed-out individuals keen on avoiding burnout. Employers have much to gain by understanding and reducing the burden of stress. Not only do companies want to curb avoidable absenteeism, they face a daily battle with presenteeism – people who turn up for work but are unproductive due to stress and worry. So, we built a dashboard for employers. The system collects information on employees which individuals can use to better understand when stress occurs and what causes it. They can then learn valuable stress-control techniques that improve their health. But for...