Data can shape psychological behavior and solve unhealthy habits, says fitness app CEO

Key Points
  • The CEO of fitness app Earthmiles Megha Prakash says data could be key to solving bad health habits.
  • The app rewards customers with discounts and other offers with each mile of activity they undertake.
  • She said her firm could consider sharing customer data if it was "explicitly agreed" by customers.
Earthmiles CEO: App uses AI to help users live healthily

Data which can track our psychological behavior is "something very powerful" and could be the key to tackling unhealthy habits, according to the CEO of a fitness app.

British firm Earthmiles incorporates elements of the Quantified Self, a movement that aims to use the data acquired from aspects of an individual's daily life – from what they eat to their state of mind – to inform them more about their daily habits.

"At the core of Earthmiles is a kind of psychological engine that helps you make healthier choices," Earthmiles CEO and Co-Founder Megha Prakash told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

The app rewards customers with discounts and other offers with each mile of activity they undertake.

But Prakash added: "Financial rewards is just a part of it; it actually works on many different levels. For the consumer it's this fun, feel-good platform where, as you work out, earns earth miles the way you would earn air miles if you flew, and then with that you can earn rewards."

She said that collected data, when processed into information, could help consumers form healthier lifestyle choices.

"This is actually combined with several quite powerful tools like the Quantified Self movement which, as you know, helps us become more aware of activities, and thereby improve information broken down into the form of smaller, healthier lifestyle choices; and underlying all of it, the behavioral psychological cues which are emotional, social, financial, (and) which ultimately results in positive behaviors."

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Danger of data getting in the wrong hands

On Monday it was revealed that health care insurer Aetna held secret talks with Apple to bring the latter's health and fitness-tracking technology to its consumers. Aetna has also offered Apple Watches to its employees to trial its data storing capabilities.

Asked whether there was a danger of data falling into the wrong hands, Prakash said: "It's an extremely important question for consumers today, and actually with Earthmiles, we don't sell or share this data in any way, and it is used entirely for the benefit of users."

But she later added that the company could consider sharing customer data if it was "explicitly agreed" by them in future.

"This is something very powerful but if, with their consent, can be shared and actually help them achieve insurance outcomes which are financially attractive then of course this is something that we could do," she said.

Earlier this month the U.K. government set out plans to update the country's data protection laws.

The law was announced in part as Britain's response to the European Union's General Data Protection Rule (GDPR).

Provisions in the law would include the "right to be forgotten" by companies that hold their data – and those who find themselves in breach of compliance could be hit with fines of up to £17 million ($22.2 million).