Nymbl Science – the health app that provides a metric for your balance

In fear of falling over? Nymbl Science is here to help you keep your feet firmly on the ground
20th December 2016

Bristol-based Nymbl Science has produced an app that allows you to measure your balance. Despite your ability to balance being the number one indicator of your overall health, Nymbl Science has identified there is currently no simple metric for it.

“Nymbl works as a stand-alone app using the sensors in a smartphone with precisely calculated algorithms to measure your balance”

 

The team seek to change this, and so are creating the Nymbl Science app to put proven clinical science into your hands. Nymbl Science says its app “combines proprietary science with smartphone technology to measure and improve balance in order to prevent falls and help people lead an active life for longer”.

Stand alone (and steady)

caroline-owen-jones-nymblWe caught up with co-founder Caroline Owen-Jones (pictured right) to find out more about this pioneering app, “Nymbl works as a stand-alone app using the sensors in a smartphone with precisely calculated algorithms to measure your balance. It then proposes a tailored training programme that consists of 5 x 1-minute exercises several times a week. ”

But, Nymbl Science won’t be just an app. The team are developing some wearable tech that you can buy optionally to improve the accuracy of your results.

Caroline explains, “It can also include ankle bands with sensors that analyse the way you walk – to train older people who shuffle or walk unevenly, to improve their gait, or, as a way to screen people who might be in danger of falling.  A study from the University of Missouri showed that a 5% decrease in walking speed correlated with an 84% increased likelihood of having a fall.”

“It’s been nearly 2 years of scientific research in motion capture labs to translate a clinician’s trained eye into app algorithms”

 

Nymbl Science is currently in partnership with Imperial College London, who are validating the technology used to prevent possible falls.

Team building

jean-pierre-farcy-nymblCaroline met co-founder, Jean-Pierre Farcy (pictured left), in the South of France. Jean is a retired spine surgeon – so he knows his stuff. Caroline says the idea flourished as he is, “passionate about trying to get the message of the importance of working on your balance as you age to as many people as possible.”

Nymbl Science has attracted others with its innovative idea. Caroline says the team grew as people were, “inspired by the opportunity to build a sustainable business while helping people have a better quality of life through a relatively simple solution.”

She adds, “This means a simple solution for the user, but it’s been nearly 2 years of scientific research in motion capture labs and with PhD students working out how to translate a clinician’s trained eye into app algorithms.”

Balancing the books

Nymbl Science is a distributed team, Caroline herself has only recently landed in Bristol, “It is challenging having a 7-hour time difference and I do find myself working into the evening.”

“[You gain] experience of pitching under pressure and in tight time constraints – which is a vital skill”

 

There are some definite perks of this, though, “when you are working hard to a deadline, it’s great to hand over to the Colorado colleagues who carry on and that means that between us all, we can get an 18-hour day done in 24 hours!”

Caroline says she’s excited to see what Bristol has to offer, “Personally I love being based in Bristol. I do go to London quite a lot (and wish the train was cheaper!) but I think that will change as I get better connected here in the city.”

Making a mark in Bristol

Nymbl Science is making its mark in Bristol; it was one of the 10 shortlisted apps to pitch at KPMG’s recent Best British Mobile Startup competition in November.

pitchers-at-kpmgs-best-mobile-app-compCaroline says she enjoyed the experience: “It was a great incentive to think one might have had the chance of being sent under KPMG’s auspices to such a large platform presentation in Barcelona.  That didn’t happen for me, which was disappointing, but Kay Drury went out of her way to seek me out and say how close we were to winning with Nymbl, which was a consolation!”

Taking part in pitching events takes guts, but Caroline tells us that you can take a lot away from them – even if it’s not a prize, “[you gain] experience of pitching under pressure and in tight time constraints – which is a vital skill. I mean, sometimes you get the chance to meet someone very senior at a conference, or in a social situation and they say, ‘OK, you’ve got 30 seconds to persuade me’.”

balanceman-300x400Nymbl Science is constantly looking for ways to branch out. The benefits don’t stop at preventing falls in the elderly – Caroline says sportsmen and women could be the next target audience. “We have also worked with Loughborough Institute for Sports Technology on the idea of an app that would be used to improve balance for enhanced performance in sport – from amateurs to elite athletes,” she explains. “And we are currently doing a combined research project with a large fitness organisation in the US.”

Getting involved

Want to get involved with this fantastic health app? Caroline urges you to: “We are always looking for people to trial the app and give us feedback, so if anyone from 50 to 75 years old, especially if they live in the Bristol area, is interested, they should get in touch.

“Also, anyone who thinks they might like to incorporate it into their wellness or fitness programme with seniors – whether in classes or a retirement home or any context at all, please get in touch.”

So, whether you’re bustling with ideas for Caroline or just fancy learning how sturdy you are, you can check out Nymbl Science which is available as a Beta now!

You can find out more at Nymbl Science’s website – where you can even take the test of your balance – or email Caroline directly: [email protected]. To keep up with the latest news, follow them on Twitter: @NymblScience.