What is Opter?
An ecosystem of interconnected habit trackers that work together to addict you to healthy habits. These trackers take data from different parts of your day to figure out which of your lifestyle factors affect each other and how you can modify your daily routine to improve various health metrics, like sleep quality, posture, and oral health. The ecosystem will include a sleep tracker, a smart water bottle, a posture-tracking necklace, and a smart toothbrush attachment. Each tracker aims to build healthy habits in a more involved way than the “if you track it, you’ll be more motivated” promise of most lifestyle trackers. We plan to do this by hacking the reward system of the brain. Just as FarmVille uses variable, well-timed rewards and the delayed and instant gratification of the investment of effort to addict you to a game, our app and ecosystem will use these strategies to addict you to good health habits.
Opter sleep is the debut product of the Opter ecosystem. It is a simple but powerful sleep tracker that optimizes your health by giving you advice for behavior change. It learns about you and your schedule to optimize your sleep and wake times based on your personal biological clock. It can even help with jet lag and schedule shifts. Connect other parts of your day to the Opter app, either by connecting other devices or by logging, and it can give you correlations and insights so you can figure out what helps you sleep well and what keeps you up at night. This sleek, portable sleep tracker automatically syncs to your phone, requires no charging, and has a 3-5 year battery life.
Why did you build Opter? What problem are you taking on?
The problem we’re trying to solve is ubiquitous and lethal. People suffer and die every day from preventable lifestyle diseases. People habitually do things that are bad for their health, regardless of whether or not they know the consequences, and whether or not they consciously want to. Trying to cut out french fries when you’ve had them weekly your whole life is a much more incredible task than people get credit for — our brains have wired such things as a neurological craving, and we experience the desire for them literally as a need, the same way a suffocating person needs air. And then later comes the guilt. We know we shouldn’t have — it was obviously counterproductive to our goals — and yet it happened anyway.
A perfect example is the room full of self-reported “health-nuts” that wrote for UCLA’s Total Wellness Magazine where Chalisa was editor-in-chief. With each article, the writers learned about scientific results that should have scared them into perfecting every aspect of their habits. But even after learning that red meat contains a compound that can turn into a carcinogen in the human gut, or that sufficient sleep and daily exercise are necessary for optimal brain function, these highly-motivated college students continued to eat beef, pull all-nighters before exams, and skip workouts. That’s because habits are incredibly hard to break. Habits are unconscious, and can easily get past conscious barriers and perpetuate ingrained routines in all but the most incredibly strong-willed people.
Almost everyone wants to be healthy. Unfortunately, most don’t have the inhuman willpower to make the changes necessary to become healthy. This is evident to anyone who peruses health magazines or buys health-tracking products. Most of the people in this market are not buying simply to see numbers and charts of their health. They’re buying because they keep hoping that this health tracker will finally be the one to help them change their behavior — because they’ve been unsuccessful at doing so thus far.
We at Opter know this intimately. We are all highly motivated to be healthy, whether it’s for fear of death, genetic predisposition, our families, or simple necessity. And yet, we have yet to optimize our habits for ideal health. We go to sleep late, we drink too little water, we slouch, and we are sometimes too lazy to go to the gym. We often try to make changes, but they never work as well as we want them to. It’s because we have lives, and we can’t spend every waking moment trying to figure out exactly what we can do to be healthier in this exact moment.
That’s why we’re designing the Opter ecosystem.
Tell us about your founding team and their backgrounds.
Chalisa Prarasri, CEO of Opter, has a B.S. in Neuroscience from UCLA. Previously she was Editor-in-Chief of UCLA’s evidence-based health magazine, Total Wellness. She has done research for the W. M. Keck Center for Neurophysics and the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.
Cutter Coryell has a B.S. in Physics with Honors from Caltech. He has worked with LIGO, Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes, and UCLA’s Center for Cognition, Vision, and Learning.
Mike Coryell and Mark Wiprud have built leading edge electronics systems together for 30 years. They developed the digital signal-processing core of one of the first WiFi chips, made the heart of one of the first cable modems, and helped bring Internet to users in remote locations worldwide. They have provided key technologies to companies ranging from first-stage startups to aerospace giants like Boeing and Northrop-Grumman. Their technologies enable the success of critical missions that are run by some of the world’s most demanding users. Mike is a Systems Engineer and has a B.A. in Physics from UCSD. Mark is a Hardware/Firmware Engineer and has a B.S. and an M.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.