DnaNudge: technology just got even more personal

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The personalisation mega-trend has given rise to a new innovation – now you can receive prompts via your smartphone from DnaNudge to make healthier food choices based on your genetic profile.

DnaNudge is the brainchild of Professor Christofer Toumazou, a professor of engineering and chief scientist of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London, and Dr Maria Karvela, a geneticist and leukaemia researcher.

The DnaNudge taps into two big social trends; self-quantifying and personalisation @dnanudge Click To Tweet

It is the world’s first DNA-based service that works to ‘nudge’ consumers towards genetically optimal buying behaviour, prompting them to make healthier food choices based on their DNA.

The process works by analysing a swab of your saliva and then storing the results on an app, so that information regarding how your body is genetically wired to metabolise food is then readily available on your smartphone.

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The phone then effectively becomes a barcode scanner that can be used to scan a food or drink product, and see if it is a good match for you or not.

The app can also be adapted to include personal preferences, such as whether you wish to avoid gluten or sweeteners in your diet, and the more it is used, the better it becomes at identifying choices that chime with your shopping habits, and suggesting alternatives that will appeal to you.

The algorithms will also nudge you if it identifies that you’re buying too many snacks or not enough vegetables, and a wristband that can be synced with the app has been developed so that users can scan on the go, and receive an instant prompt as to whether a product is suitable for them or not.

DnaNudge has recently partnered with Imperial College London and Waitrose & Partners to launch a study into the effects of DNA-based food choice for pre-diabetic individuals.

The 12-month clinical trial will assess the potential of DnaNudge’s capability to improve glucose regulation and prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes in those who are prone to the condition. There are positive implications for other health problems too, including cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

So why does this matter?

The trend for self-quantifying, and accumulating data about ourselves in order to improve our health, is well established. Behind this is the personalisation mega-trend, which represents our increasing desire to have the products we use every day tailored according to our personal preferences – and nothing can be more personalised than receiving filtered dietary choices based on our own genetic profile.

But as well as that, it’s the ‘nudge’ itself that’s an interesting concept for brands to take away, particularly when it comes to trying to change ingrained consumer behaviour, such as with wasteful habits concerning water usage, for example.

Finally, there is another point to think about here. The DnaNudge database currently contains more than 190,000 products, and 12,000 brands. When it comes to reaching consumers, the potential for brands who are able to prove that their products have health benefits is huge.

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