“Smart digital solutions with AI capabilities to be used to overcome myopia”
plano Pte Ltd, a Singapore based health tech company was established in September 2017 to manage smart device use and myopia (shortsightedness) in children worldwide. The plano app operates in the background of phones and tablets, both IOS and Android, where it captures important device and eye health behaviours, provides real-time science based alerts and reduces myopia-related risk factors, such as excessive device time, poor eye health habits, face to screen proximity and lack of outdoor activity. plano was the first spin-off company from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) ophthalmic technology incubator, where it then secured external funding from the National Health Innovation Centre (NHIC), followed by local angel investment. The plano app has been developed on a bed of science, using both available literature as well as market research conducted by AntzWorkz Consultants. The plano app has in-built functions to ensure; reduced myopia related risk factors through real-time alerts and parental reports; eye health referral system; reward based time management; points generated system to empower and encourage device-free activity, namely outdoor activity and eye health promotion.
plano, has recently partnered with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). Through this year-long collaboration, plano users would be encouraged to spend more time outdoors—a key behavioural element that has been scientifically proven to be an effective control of myopia. Dr Mo Dirani, Founder of plano, spoke to BioSpectrum Asia about this new partnership and how the app aims to help mitigate myopia in children. Edited excerpts;
Is the app only available in Singapore? If so, are there any plans of launching it in other parts of the globe? Does it have a web interface too?
Currently, the plano app is only available in Singapore, where it has already generated over 50,000 downloads. Plans for expansion into the region and beyond are already well underway, with an expected launch into international markets in the third and fourth quarter of 2018. plano’s website is rich in carefully generated blogs, newsletters and general information on the objectives of the app, with plans to extend plano’s e-commerce component into plano’s website.
Please explain plano’s partnerships with government institutions like Health Promotion Board (HPB) and WRS? How is it going to help mitigate myopia in children?
In a short period of time, plano has established major partnerships with government, industry and research institutes. Of those, HPB is a major player, where plano will be promoted to over 320,000 children (pre-schoolers and primary school children) in the next 12 months. We are working very closely with the team at HPB to better prevent and manage myopia, with a focus on outdoor activity, smart device use management and empowering families to engage in healthy eye habits, such as obtaining regular and timely eye checks. plano will provide HPB with de-identified aggregate analysis to assist with policy formulation, resource allocation and eye health service delivery. Equally important is WRS, will act as a great channel for users to engage in outdoor activity, family outings and nature-based education activities. We will be working very closely with our partners to ultimately reduce the risk of sight-threatening myopia and provide our next generation with a better quality of life.
What are the better and smarter ways to overcome myopia and other common eye conditions?
Through coordinated and collaborative efforts, we must disrupt the traditional methods of screening, monitoring and managing eye conditions by using smart digital solutions with AI capabilities. For instance, plano has generated a substantial database of important de-identified data that can be used to; a) conduct large scale cross-sectional and longitudinal translational research; b) implement effective eye health promotion; c) establish life-time data on myopia and device use behaviour in children; d) strengthen its in-built algorithms to better detect, monitor and manage myopia.