July 23, 2019

How to Convert 15 Minutes of Workouts a Day into an Additional 5,000 USD Per Year

TuSion project, a resident of “Ingria” Business Incubator is developing an application that boosts productivity, training concentration and relaxation, as well as reduces stress levels using neurofeedback technology.

In the autumn of 2018, TuSion graduated from the acceleration program in Starta Ventures, USA.

Andrei Khapsasov, CEO, told us about the capabilities of the application, his experience of the acceleration program and the invention of a new business niche.

How it works

Neurofeedback is a method of therapy based on the use of biofeedback on a few neurophysiological parameters. The TuSion app measures the brainwave activity indicators with the help of the neuro headset and presents them in audio-visual form. That allows a person to train their brain, boost up their brain efforts and increase mental activity. This, in turn, helps in studies, work and personal life: a person will be able to effectively cope with stress and switch themselves from a state of full concentration to rest, which is useful for everyone.
The fact that the brain is active is expressed in the fluctuation of brain waves. There are various types of brain rhythms: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, theta and others.
Medical facilities have special equipment that allows to investigate the activity of the brain. It’s been already ten years as special neuro headsets are available, capable of quite accurate measurements.

Of course, there is a certain margin of error, because they are not certified medical devices. But otherwise they would need special licenses.

These headsets can measure brainwave activity and present them in an audio-visually comprehensible form. Moreover, a person can manage this process, in our case we use diagrams and games. In order for an action to take place on screen, a person must tune their brain in a special way. And only this person can understand how to do this, based on the feelings. We have a certain number of tricks and hints, for example, we suggest a person to look at a lighter, to breathe correctly or to perform some kind of physical exercise. Then they can see the changes on the display and note the program’s reaction to their activity. Often these tricks work, but sometimes they do not. It’s because all people are different.

There are lots of different devices in the world, headsets with advanced features are also available.

The last big step in this direction is the capability of detecting breathing and heart rate only by measuring brain waves. We ourselves conduct research, try to calculate how to index breathing based on our algorithms, and we have been able to gather certain results.

Each type of brainwave reflects a very tangible aspect of human activity. For instance, alpha waves are responsible for a relaxed state. Beta waves are there when we concentrate. What do we mean by relaxation? When a person arrives home after work and needs to switch from work activities to household chores, to have quality time with the family, they need to be relaxed. To do this, they need to train the brainwave, reach a certain level and maintain it. The same is true in the opposite case: if a person needs to be engaged in work duties, then they should be concentrated. Therefore, they train a different wave, and thus productivity increases.

But the most important skill that can be developed is the ability to switch between these states, like a clicker: I came home after work – I rest. And it needs to be done without the use of the device, without wave monitoring.

In fact, all these sets of programs and games are a mobile exercise device. In this case, just 15 minutes a day for two weeks is enough to get a tangible result for life.

Who benefits from the product

With this product we are primarily focused on the corporate market. B2C tried it but we found out that this product will be in higher demand in the B2B segment.
Suppose a company has a call center and a huge number of employees who talk to very different customers who may not be at their best behavior. They experience an ongoing stress and gradually burn out at work. This deteriorates the quality of service, there are conflicts with customers. In the best-case scenario, people just leave, in the worst case they may place a significant financial burden on the employer. After our system is adopted, these costs can be reduced.

This example is a little artificial, since, in fact, the staff turnover in the call center is quite high. Let us take another example: in serious companies, it is customary to hold on to an employee with high qualification and experience. An hour of labor of such an employee is expensive. And if they procrastinate, it results in a loss for the company. And if they leave, this is also an inconvenience and a financial loss for the company: you need to sift through a lot of resumes, invite for interviews, the newcomers are not yet tested, the probation period may not yield positive results. And our program can be very useful for increasing the productivity of such employees.

We were asked if these studies respect human rights. In essence, these are biodata that you disclose to other people in your company. We had to take care of this issue and so we introduced a function which enables a person to send data anonymously. The correlation between the waves that the brain produces in a given moment and the level of intelligence has not been proven. But still, some fear that they would look stupid to others.

The experience of working with a mindfulness coach

It turned out that neurofeedback and brain research in general are very strongly associated with the concept of mindfulness, which can also be understood as “awareness”. We have already heard about yoga and meditation and now it’s time to jump on the bandwagon named mindfulness. In large foreign companies, this practice is popular. According to statistics, as of 2017, 35 % of American companies tried to implement these practices in one way or another. Starting from equipping rooms for meditation and yoga and using applications like Headspace or Calm, and going as far as inviting mindfulness coaches.

We know coaches in America that a client needs to pay about 14,000 USD for an 8-week course.

And a coach can have several clients.

Mindfulness-coach comes to the company, delivers an introductory seminar, tells you how to manage the internal self. Some of them employ purely Eastern practices: they talk about Buddha, karma, etc. But the problem is that these services are ordered mainly for the top management. These people know how to earn money and they are guided by other things in their line of work, so this Oriental style doesn’t really sit well with them. Enter TuSion. Here we show the trainers what happens when you tell your audience to do this or that, to imagine this or that picture or to tune their breath. Other well-known applications on the market are basically meant for audio meditation, which can be used to help a person during meditation and other yoga practices. But you don’t really know what is happening to you. Because who can say for sure if they are meditating if they just sit in a chair and breathe correctly? However when you see hands-on data and that this wave is responsible for one thing and the other is responsible for another, then you understand whether you are correctly doing this or that task of the mindfulness practice.

Due to the fact that there is an over-competition between companies in America, they are looking for any way to boost the productivity of their employees. As a result, companies not only increase the value of their shares on the market, but also receive a measurable financial result. There was a case from Aetna, an American insurance giant, which tried to introduce mindfulness practices without using neuro headsets. They reported that revenue per employee increased by 5,000 USD a year, despite the fact that the cost of the system was ten times lower. Which means that it is truly profitable. In Russia, I think, there are very few companies that can keep things like that in mind.