Welcome to Curious – We’ve Launched!
March 10, 2016 – Today at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla, CA, we’re excited to announce the launch of Curious, our personal data aggregating and tracking platform. It’s been a long haul, but we think the time is finally right. It comes at a point where the concept of data-driven Precision Medicine has risen to the attention of the federal government and President Obama. This movement will not move forward without the contribution of data from thousands, if not millions, of people. We hope to help facilitate this level of sharing.
A Bit of History
I’ve been a follower of the precision medicine movement since the early to mid 2000s when I attended Harvard’s Personalized Medicine conference four years running. It was frustrating to hear very similar presentations, year after year, with little indication of progress (prescription drugs STILL only work about 40% of the time and there are STILL major side effects). The push for conducting so-called pharmacogenetic studies required large numbers of participants in order to hash out why some people did well on a certain drug, while other people might experience life threatening reactions. It’s one of the main reasons I started my first company, 23andMe.
The three years I spent focused on personal genetics, as well as learning more about the complexity of conditions like autism, chronic fatigue, and Alzheimer’s, made me realize that we needed to gather far more information directly from patients in order to decipher the systems behind these complex disorders. Putting a basic diagnosis together with genetic data wouldn’t suffice.
In 20011, I started attending Faster Cures’ ‘Partnering for Cures’ annual meeting and heard the same theme—patients were imploring researchers to listen more closely to THEM. They instinctively knew they had very important data to share that could move research forward more quickly and effectively.
This was the confirmation we needed; we were on the right track as we began discussing the design of a personal data aggregating platform. At the same time, the wearables market and digital health movement had come on to the scene (I’m on the board of Rock Health and have luckily had a front row seat!). We now have access to an expanding panoply of sensors, monitors, trackers, and apps that generate massive amounts of data about ourselves. The question is, what does it all mean? And how can we learn from it in order to live healthier, more productive lives? Could we avoid contracting some of the common, chronic conditions if we paid more attention to our data?
We’ve All Got Questions
If you’re talking about health with pretty much anyone, it doesn’t take long for questions to come up. “Does my diet really trigger my migraines?” “Do I sleep better if I cut out caffeine completely or can I still drink a cup or two?” “Should I be doing more weight resistance exercise?” “Do I really need any of those thousands of supplements they sell at GNC?” “Does a gluten-free diet lower my stress and/or inflammation?”
Answers to questions like these unfortunately won’t likely come from our doctors, or the research establishment. Just like the Precision Medicine movement, personalized health will come from the exploration of personal data, both through ‘n of 1’ tracking as well as from groups of similarly curious individuals working together.
The Importance of Sleep
While we’ve been in development, thousands of questions have been posted to our site (thank you to all of you who contributed!). These questions cover a wide range of topics, but we were struck by how much curiosity there is around sleep. It’s clearly a subject of much consternation—sleeping in these modern, screen-manic times is a challenge. We know there are steps we can take to improve sleep; tracking it, along with other activities during the day, could help point us in the right direction.
Based on this response from our early followers, we decided to focus on sleep for our initial launch. Now all we needed was a good way to passively track sleep. We tried virtually all of the products on the market—from wrist-based wearables, to bedside monitors, to phone apps, to mattress-based sensors. Nothing was quite making the grade.
Ōura – A Ring-based Computer
We were intrigued when we first heard about Finland-based Ōura. We were duly impressed with their design-centric approach and their conservative (almost skeptical!) perspective on the realities of sleep tracking. The timing of their launch coincided well with ours—we’d found the perfect partner.
When you sign up for Curious (and we hope you do!), you’ll see a tab on our mobile app and web called ‘trackathons’. These are tracking recipes we’ve created to help ease you into a tracking mindset. If you’re interested in purchasing an Ōura ring, please visit their website, ouraring.com. And then we look forward to seeing you back here, on your way to a better night’s sleep!
All the best,