YBLTV Writer / Reviewer, Washington Thompson III Interviews Tinylogics’ Co-Founder, Mick Adams
YBLTV: Foci uses the wearers breathing methods to give us insight into our cognitive states. How does this technology work?
Tinylogics: Breathing is highly correlated with our cognitive states, we realize this intuitively, when we see how our breathing changes when we are calm or stressed. If you are focused, or distracted, this will be reflected in the tiny movements in your breathing that the motion sensor detects. FOCI’s machine learning works by seeing the pattern in the user’s data, match it to different cognitive states, and personalizing to the individual.
YBLTV: Users place the Foci on the belt loop or hip of their pants to determine the mental states and their mental focus. How sturdy are the devices? Meaning, how much work was put into making a device that can withstand the rigors of daily life?
Tinylogics: The devices have been drop tested from 1.5m, and are definitely robust enough for everyday use. We made improvements in the clip design based on feedbacks from our tester, to make it harder to slip off, and added location feature, where the user can remotely locate FOCI with a vibration.
YBLTV: Foci has an AI mind coach. How does the coach implement what it learns? How does it work? Is it a vocal coach or will the user have to look at the phone or app? Wouldn’t that interrupt focus as well?
Tinylogics: The AI coach adaptively decides the interval and types of interventions, based on your current and past states. Light distraction is different from recurrent distraction, distractions at weekends are not as much of a problem as on weekdays, and FOCI adaptively chooses the appropriate method to notify and help the user to improve focus with different mental strategies. For example, when you are fully immersed in your task, FOCI vibrates to nudge you when you leave a focus streak, without you having to look at the screen. But if you are constantly distracted, it would not help to keep ‘nagging’ you – the AI coach will prompt you to refocus, by following step-by-step audio guidance on ‘if-then’ or other mental strategies for distractions.
YBLTV: What is machine learning? I hear the term in many of your videos which seems different from the AI mind coach. Is it?
Tinylogics: Machine learning is how computer programs can learn to get better over time, being taught or teaching themselves using new data. FOCI’s machine learning is applied to a user’s breathing patterns to derive their cognitive states. The AI mind coach uses the insights learned using the machine learning to give personalized coaching to the user and intervene in real time.
YBLTV: Is the Foci a device that users will continue to use? Meaning, after the AI brain coach gives you insights into your focus and ways to do it better, will we continue to use them? How? Why?
Tinylogics: Absolutely! FOCI is designed for users to continue using while they work. Over time you will improve the awareness of your focus, and get a hang of the mental strategies without having to follow the guidance step-by-step. However, no matter how hard we try to beat distractions or procrastination, sometimes we forget the idea, so FOCI will always serve as a gentle reminder that comes in just in time when you need to focus, or follow a specific mental strategy to refocus. Each time we flex our brain’s ability to focus, we strengthen our neural pathways, and little by little, FOCI will train us to build these strategies, such as ‘if-then’ strategy, as our knee jerk reactions to distraction or other states such as stress or fatigue. As one of our Alpha tester Natasha puts it, “Just the act of putting on/wearing the device to get me into a work/study mood. It’d be the first thing i’d see when i returned to work.’