There's a new health-monitoring app or device launched every day lately. But entrepreneur Renato Valdés Olmos is, perhaps, uniquely qualified to create one.
"I used to weigh 320 pounds, and I got that down to about 176," Valdés Olmos says, mostly through simple life changes like walking instead of taking the car or the bus, cycling, and taking the stairs.
Now he's hoping that his new app Human.co, launched last week, can help others produce similar change in their lives, by providing people a simple visual marker of how much daily activity they've done.
Users who download the app need only activate it and keep their phone in their bag or pocket. If they start moving for more than a minute, the tracker kicks in, and based on speed, can tell if users are walking, running, or bicycling (or driving or taking public transit, which would be disqualified). A circular counter slowly fills in as users work toward 30 minutes of daily activity.
There's no option to set your own goal—just the baseline that everybody should move 30 minutes a day. It's "the best form of preventive medicine, and the single best thing you can actually do for your health," he says.
Valdés Olmos thinks that Human.co's emphasis on minimum daily activity will distinguish the app from other health trackers on the market. "There's a very large market of people who don't want to make a commitment as big as slapping down $150 for a wearable device. At the other side of the spectrum, you have these other companies focusing on high-intensity activities."
But Valdés Olmos says that those products appeal mostly to people that are already fit. "They made a commitment; they're mostly healthy. But there's a very large group of people that don't reach the minimum amount of moving 30 minutes per day." These people, he says, may not be into the labor-intensive fastidiousness of other self-quantifying apps that require data input.
The app is free as Human.co works to grow. Although the kind of data that Human.co collects could potentially be valuable for insurance companies eager to monitor the health of their insured, Valdés Olmos says that the company will maintain a "direct and transparent approach on how we collect our data."
"Insurance companies are very interested in how their customers move," Valdés Olmos points out. But he says they won't be selling any data without user consent. The most important thing, he says, is that users trust the app.