Inclusive Data by Bio-Wired AI

In this episode of The Inclusive Growth Show, I was joined by Claire Myers-Lamptey. I was excited to be sitting down with Claire because she has founded a tech startup called Bio-Wired AI and I’m a bit of a geek at heart. Before I got into diversity and inclusion, I worked in technology as an IT consultant for Accenture in healthcare technology and Claire’s technology is within the wellbeing and healthcare space. It will be great to learn more about the technology Claire’s developing and think about how it can help us implement diversity and inclusion and amplify what we’re doing within the EDI space.

To get us started I asked Claire to tell me a bit more about herself and her background.

‘My name is Claire Myers-Lamptey and I’m the tech founder of Bio-Wired AI app. I am Black. I am female. I am married. I am a mother. I’ve had quite a varied career, which I think has all contributed to getting me to this position that I’m at now.

My first degree was in biomedical sciences. Then I ended up in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. One of the good things about that organisation was that it was very large and had lots of different departments. If you were willing to put yourself forward and acquire the skills needed for a role and demonstrate you had the ability, then it was possible to change career directions. So, I went from investment research to IT and then to HR. In IT was definitely coding and project managing. Then in HR, I was focused on diversity.’

Like Claire, I also worked in IT as a project manager but I was more interested in the human interface and the human psychology of using tech. So I tended to work in user experience roles and that kind of thing. And then then I moved into HR too so there are some similarities there. I was curious to ask Claire what the inspiration was behind her developing Bio-Wired AI?

‘Part of my evolving career is that most recently I opened a spa. It was a project where I refurbished a derelict former 1790 bank. It was Gurney’s Bank which eventually became Barclays. I opened up a spa. I designed it myself. It changed from a design project into one where I was actively involved in supporting people in their wellness. So, on that journey, I became aware of lots of different therapies and treatments and got involved with lots of different professionals to cater for the clients that visited the facility. This is where wellness, technology, human resources, my biomedical sciences background all came together to put me on this journey to create this app.’

‘I love how all of those strands intersected at that point in Claire’s life, and what’s manifesting from that is a new piece of really cool and interesting technology that I want to explore a bit more. I asked Claire if she could explain how the Bio-Wired app works and what its key features are.

‘The Bio-Wired AI app monitors your state of wellbeing. using your mobile phone and a wearable device. So that’s your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Via the app you control something we call the e-Dome, or the employee dome. It’s there you can prioritise chapters of your life. We look at wellbeing as chapters; health, financial, relationships, environmental, lifestyle.

You can also negate things that would normally be recorded as a bias against you. So you create your perfect world. We use the biometric readings and we come up with an optimal wellbeing score. When you fall outside of that score, at the first instance, your AI wellbeing coach will come on board and say, “I’ve noticed you’re a bit stressed,” for example. And then we’ll suggest things that you can do from resources that we have to reduce your stress levels. If there are readings that are concerning, the AI Wellness Coach will accelerate it to the EAP programme that we also bring on board with the app. This is where you’ll then have human contact with professionals who may be GPs, therapists or coaches who will then try to put a programme together to get you back to optimal wellness.

Additionally, a feature we have is daily wellbeing coaches who come on board just to motivate you. Speaking with my professionals, whether it’s about financial wellbeing or health wellbeing, 30% is only what the professional can give you in terms of advice or even medication. And they all agree that 70% is dependent on our decision to change the situation that we’re in. Using that theory, we will have daily wellbeing coaches whose jobs are just to motivate people.’

Claire mentioned that this is based on a wearable that’s also connected to an app. I asked her to explain how it measures wellbeing and the kind of data it is collecting.

‘In addition to basic physiological data like heart rate, etc. we use another sort of scientific concept which also takes readings of your brain and your physiological responses in your body. These readings are derived from loads of charts taken from studies of lots of people – thousands and thousands of people. What it means is that there are optimal levels for every single organ of your body, even emotions that have been recorded over several years. And so when you fall outside of that, taking into account the biases or the conditions that you have disclosed to the app, that is how we get your optimal wellbeing range. And not to sound woolly, but we don’t want to reveal the actual DNA of how we do it all.’

I can understand why Claire is protecting the secret sauce. It’s like the KFC recipe – no one’s going to give away the KFC recipe. I picked up on Claire mentioning biases and how they are taken into consideration so that there is an optimal employee dome or someone’s own personalised score. I asked Claire to say a bit more about the types of biases she is talking about.

‘Great question. We firmly believe that in life, we don’t journey on a straight unchallenged line where everything is perfect. Life is a sort of a wavy thing. So if we look at those six chapters, at any time, there will be things affecting us that act as a bias. Because what normally happens in organisations is when they’re working out KPIs, they are normally modelled on White, male, young humans. And where we fall short of that is a bias because we are measured against this “ideal” candidate, if you like. So what the app allows us to do is to be measured against our own strengths and weaknesses.

Another element that excites me about the app is that we can use your optimal wellbeing score in a logarithm with KPIs from the organisation to come up with workflow productivity. In theory, that should alter depending also on your wellbeing score. This means, quite rightly, if your wellbeing score is low and you need support to get back to optimal, expectations for workflow productivity should also be adjusted to align.’

I know that there are all sorts of different apps and devices out there already. For example, I’ve already used the Oura Ring, which I found quite helpful to monitor my wellbeing. I was keen to find out from Claire how the Bio-Wired app differs from some of the other available devices.

‘In the first version, our wearable device is just the size of a key ring. It requires contact with the body but you don’t have to wear it all the time as we are just relying on weekly readings. Secondly, it’s real-time and the changes are measured against your optimal wellbeing reading. From what I can gather, a lot of these other devices are not taking into account changes in your world or your ecosystem. It’s not a two-channel reading. We have a two-channel reading where the app is always taking data from your e-Dome, your ecosystem, together with what is happening in the world. When I say your ecosystem, it’s what’s created on your app representing your digital world. So it’s bringing together your digital world with your physical world and using both of those datasets to support your wellbeing.’

What Claire describes is really cool. One thing that’s worth exploring more is how the devices cater for different diverse groups. I’m a wheelchair user and I mentioned already that I’ve used the Oura Ring and these devices don’t always work well for everybody. For example, I think my Oura Ring is giving me false readings about steps. I don’t walk at all, I’m permanently using a wheelchair, yet at the end of the day it tells me that I’ve like done two and a half thousand steps so how on earth did I accomplish that? Which then leads me to ask, “Well, is it giving an accurate reading of how many calories I’ve burned in that day?” I have a sedentary lifestyle because I don’t walk. I’m sat in a wheelchair all day, or I’m in bed at night.

I asked Claire to tell me how the app caters for different diverse groups, especially those with disabilities, which I’m particularly interested in hearing about.

Claire said, ‘The exciting thing is that we live in an app world. For instance, if you use a hearing aid, we can connect that data to the app. So Bio-Wired AI would know that this person has hearing limitations. And in your case, I hope there is some sort of app that we could connect your state-of-the-art wheelchair to. So, it wouldn’t be measuring footsteps, it would be measuring something else. What we decide to measure is based on the communication between the two devices. I can’t say offhand what we’d use to measure in your situation, but there are lots of things that we can decide to measure to record your movement together with your physiological data.’

What Claire says is really interesting. In another example, if I am taking a car journey in my wheelchair accessible vehicle, I can drive my wheelchair into the car. Now I imagine that I probably use up a lot of energy in the car because my muscles have to work against the movement of the car, rocking side and side and breaking and accelerating and stuff like that. It’d be interesting to compare the data of me in the car versus me just sitting at my desk recording a podcast like we are now.

Claire agreed. ‘This is exactly what happens when I talk to people about the app – more questions are raised. That is exciting because it is going to be an open platform that can plug into different things and you can use the data how you want to use it, which brings me onto a point about privacy. This is being marketed as an HR tool but your data does not go to your employer. What happens is all your personal data stays on your phone. Any information used in order to monitor you is encrypted in the cloud. All the company gets, or the HR platform gets is indicative data, which we feel is also the exciting thing about this app. So your employer gets a snapshot of their organisation so they can see that look, 15% of the workforce are stressed, or that 10% are suffering from mobility issues that we are not meeting. 5% of the women are going through menopause. There are 10% going through bereavement, that type of thing. So all decisions they make in terms of supporting their employees with wellbeing are batched, matched and tailored and not guesswork. So, for example, sound baths or menopause clinics. I think there was a time and perhaps there still is where intervention for wellbeing is reactionary, without any sort of science or measurement.
How many menopause clinics do you really need in an organisation? Is it proportional to the needs of your people? And sound baths, are you tracking how that is improving things? Because there are so many things. I think the term wellbeing, it’s used very generally, but as we try to demonstrate in having these six chapters, it encompasses a lot of things because we are complicated beings. What further excites me is that with this tool, companies can now start to monitor the wellbeing of their remote workers and workers from home. Because I believe that a lot of them are challenged, when it comes to supporting that outside of the office.’

One of the things that occurred to me when Claire was speaking was this data around people working from home might well support policies on whether or not they mandate everybody to go back to work. If, for example, the policy is everybody has to be in the office four days a week and then they’re allowed to work from home one day a week, but then that increases everybody’s stress levels and reduces their wellbeing score, then that’s probably not a great policy for employee productivity.

‘I love that you’ve raised this question because what is key in the media at the moment is these return to office mandates. The good thing about this app is that it gives a way of measuring workflow productivity. What we are seeing is a bit of a seismic shift, and it’s fuelled by a lot of different things. You’ve got AI technologies that are set to transform the workplace in terms of increasing productivity and offering so many other things. You also have got the issue of real estate. So companies have got these amazing offices that no one is using, and then you’ve got the issue of wellbeing.

I see it being played out as a fight for equity. I think working from home is a very interesting part of this negotiation where employees want more equity within an organisation. But I also feel it’s part of a bigger discussion that we shouldn’t overlook, which is about AI technologies and upskilling your employees for a future economy. We live in a country where the population is changing. There are far more older people than younger people. The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2060, 80% of the workforce will come from Asia, Africa, and South America. So these are all challenges for companies of today and they should be looking at solutions. We should be talking about sustainable careers.

People that I’ve told about the app are very interested to see these measurements. They’d like to compare how somebody works in the office as opposed to their home. I’ve also started to work with other interesting startups, and one of them is called Coremoting. It’s a very interesting project whereby it encourages workers to work together from their homes. So that startup is very interested in comparing measurements of workflow productivity in the office, in your home, on your own, or co-working in your home. So the idea of this startup, Coremoting, is that you can open your home to another colleague so you can work together. The reason this has come about is ironically, in fighting for work from home, employees have also reported a state of loneliness.

Research shows that people are quite happy with three days at home, but there’ll be two days when they’d like to change their environment, and coffee shops are not always the best places to work in for different reasons. Libraries are being shut. There is also sometimes a bit of a sterile environment in some sort of co-working spaces. This is a social exercise because it suggests that you can choose to work with someone based on gender or similar disability, or even as parents, you could be two single parents and by working together it could also solve childcare issues.’

I like the whole equitable piece Claire describes. When I’ve worked for companies, I’ve just been offered the bog-standard wellbeing packages like gym membership, for example, which is absolutely no use to me whatsoever. I can’t even lift up a pencil, let alone go to a gym lifting weights. So I suppose using technology like Bio-Wired AI gives businesses very specific data so that they can take the targeted action where it’s needed.

This is a general philosophy that I share with my clients because they get very excited when they are putting their diversity and inclusion strategy together and they come up with great solutions. I have to say, “Hang on a minute. Just wait a minute because do you know if these solutions that you’re proposing are getting to the root cause of the issues in your organisation? Is creating a career development programme for women because you’re worried about the lack of women in the senior leadership positions, is that programme actually going to solve the problem? Or is there something much more fundamental and underlying that we need to address? And that’s where the power of data comes in. So we need to have that data, we need to have those insights to understand what’s really going on for people in an organisation.

Claire agreed, ‘This is where I get excited about AI technologies because it allows us to map somebody’s being. We can track what is really going on with an individual when they’re faced with these issues in the workplace and life in general. I think it helps us to get to true inclusivity. We are getting to a stage where we have a skill shortage and are short of workers. The whole way we think about employment has to change. For me, the ideal is using technology to work out what are people’s strengths and weaknesses and creating a job role around that and even take into account the times of the day that the person is most productive. That shouldn’t be impossible. It could also banish the 9:00 to 5:00.’

Claire’s point about the 9-5, eight-hour working day, stems back to a different century when it was all about productivity in a factory during the Industrial Revolution when we were just churning out widgets. It’s really not fit for the modern age where we’re working in information and technology and it’s a different world.

Claire was keen to highlight another potential use case for the Bio-Wired app too. ‘Say, for instance, you could have two individuals and the app could show that one person actually completes all their targets or their job role in three days. What do you do with that person? How do you reward that person fairly? Now, that could be a case that that person then only works a three-day week. Do you compensate them with salary only or do you compensate them with other benefits? There are very interesting benefits coming into play such as interest-free loans and also even using Bitcoin. It is also possible to replicate your company and give shares in another dimension that people can exchange for different things. Now, I find that fascinating.

On the one hand, I can see how people want to slow down and think, “Hang on a minute, this is just a bit too fast.” But for me, it excites me because it really does level the playing field. It really does address equality, equity, inclusivity, diversity, everything, which is what we’ve all been striving to do. And suddenly we have the tools and the language and the tech to do this. I urge companies to think out of the box because when I go to conferences or I listen to webinars and people are saying the same thing.’

I’d agree with Claire since I see the same old stuff being recycled. Particularly within the diversity and inclusion space, I think there is a lot of frustration that the needle hasn’t shifted much over the last couple of decades. I talk to colleagues who’ve been working in EDI for longer than I have, and they’re frustrated. They’re saying, I’m just repeating the same old thing. I’m saying the same thing today that I said 20 or 30 years ago about equality within the workplace and things are just not shifting. But I think we are in this interesting time where the introduction of new technologies is really going to help us. As well as the shift that we’ve seen from getting through the pandemic and how people’s attitudes and relationships to work has changed as well. I think it’s a culmination of all these things will shift things. It’s good to know that apps like this are available as part of that.

I asked Claire, ‘What’s the current status of the app and when are you hoping to launch it?’

‘We’re hoping to launch it in six months. When it comes to the EAP, that will be ready in four to six weeks for companies to sign up to. Through speaking to companies, it’s become apparent that there is an element of guidance that needs to be given to prepare for this amazing app and that’s going to come on board soon. By asking those questions they need to, organisations are going to be in the right place before adoption of the app to get the best out of it. So we are offering consultation from the beginning of March, which is going to be very interesting and very exciting.’

The app is already game changing but I was curious to know how Claire sees it evolving in the future?

‘We would like to map the employee e-Dome to the organisation ecosystem. It’s so exciting that you can use AI technologies now to improve the workplace as a physical place for people to come and work in very quickly and very easily and at a relatively low cost to what has happened historically. For example, we’ve been talking about types of wearable devices and what’s exciting is if you’re in an organisation that has multiple office locations, you can map your company ecosystem in terms of your location, floor plans and everything, match it to your employee’s e-Dome, and through the wearable device and their phone, they can quite confidently navigate themselves to any of your locations without any limitations, even if they’re blind. Or it can support neurodiverse employees by tapping into the strengths of the individual and map them to specific roles within an organisation.’

To wrap up our conversation, I asked Claire, ‘What does inclusive growth mean to you?’

‘I think we have never been as close to realising inclusion. That’s because of technology and the change of the world. I don’t believe that there is any excuse now. We need to rely on data because we live in a data-driven world. So if anyone says they’re inclusive, I want to see the data. Inclusion is no longer a word that can be thrown around. We should be talking about inclusive data. That would soon tell us how inclusive an organisation is.’

To find out more about Bio-Wired AI technology check out their LinkedIn page or reach out directly to Claire Myers-Lamptey through her LinkedIn page who will be happy to respond.

Inclusive Data by Bio-Wired AI - Mildon