Jurjen Söhne, a founding member of the team behind the unique FollowFlow app, speaks about how it works in sync with the user to optimize their performance – to get them ‘in the zone’ and ‘following the state of flow’.
The value of FollowFlow is to combat stress, according to Dutchman Jurjen Söhne, a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and one of the team behind the FollowFlow app. It is clearly a mission for him.
“Stress is one of the greatest challenges in our society,” he says. “It has a negative impact on mental wellbeing and it coexists with all sorts of diseases as deadly as cancer or a heart attack, or disorders such as depression diabetes, hypertension or insomnia.”
The concept of flow has received a lot of attention of late – and for Jurjen it is one of the keys to helping us destress.
To ‘be in the zone,’ would be one description of flow. ‘The optimal state of consciousness, a peak state where we both feel our best and perform our best,’ would be another. Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that achieving the flow state on a regular basis is a key component of happiness.
FollowFlow is about following the state of flow: providing people with insight into the direction of flow that contributes to a happier and healthier life. FollowFlow provides real-time guidance on reaching an optimal mental and physical state – a health state that contributes to a positive sense of wellbeing, enabling effective recovery from illness and ultimate performance in many aspects of life: health, sports, lifestyle and business.
Jurjen describes how the technology works in sync with the body and the emotions.
A person’s heart rhythms can indicate the challenge and ability level required for a particular task executed at a particular moment. Monitoring the heart rate (HR, beats per minute) indicates the challenge level at hand, while monitoring the heart rate variability (HRV, inter-beat interval) provides us with the ability level.
In short, the team linked the heart rhythms to Csikszentmihalyi’s flow model as outlined in the below illustration.
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The team behind FollowFlow met at a health hackathon in 2015, where the first prototype/MVP was built. “We went from a basic idea to a minimum viable product within 48 hours,” explains Jurjen.
We continued our development on an iterative basis and participated in a couple more hackathons for rapid development and to test new scenarios.
There is a tendency now to release software in an early (alpha, beta) stage to receive immediate user feedback. Although we believe in this rapid approach, we decided to release our application to a select and critical group of beta testers in a closed environment.
Due to the wide scope of possible use-cases for our FollowFlow algorithm, it proved to be challenging to come up with an overarching business model. As we focused on patient-centered scenarios, our use-cases became more relevant, paving the way for a suitable business case.
Jurjen speaks about FollowFlow’s challenges and ambition moving forward.
Given that the data our software generates is highly personal and sensitive, our key challenge is to ensure absolute security and privacy to our users at all times, while providing high-end services to people. We’ve been exploring using the Blockchain technology to provide this level of security and privacy.
It’s our ambition to increase human potential and happiness in the world. We want to see our algorithm run within all major human interface devices (wearables, robotics), becoming the standard in the world of the quantified self.