Nell Watson is an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker.
She is Founder & CEO of Poikos, the smartphone 3D body measurement company.
Nell’s patented technology ‘dematerialises’ the 3D body scanner, by providing accurate 3D scans of the body with only 2D camera hardware, such as that found within smartphones, or laptops. This may then be applied to a range of markets, such as fashion, mass customisation, and health.
In 2013 Nell was awarded a full scholarship to join 80 other students for Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Programme. She has since become noted as a speaker and visiting lecturer on technology, and how it relates to the psychology and philosophy of life in our society.
CEEDS:How does technology relate to the psychology and philosophy of life in our society?
N.W.I’ve long been fascinated by how technology can change how we choose to live our lives.
Machines have the capacity to view humans in ways that are perfectly objective. A machine will not typically not lie to us (it would take a wise one to do that)! This makes it harder for machines to understand human values, but it also makes it easier for them able to guide us, flawed and imperfect as we are, towards the goal of realising an idealised version of ourselves.
Captology is a word coined by Stanford Experimental Psychologist BJ Fogg to describe such mechanisms (the CAPT part stands for ‘Computers As Persuasion Technology’). We can create intelligent agents that act like a digital coach, helping us to choose behaviours and habits that are likely to increase our health and wellbeing.
This has important implications in any area that requires willpower – such as fitness, productivity, and even good morals. I believe that the most important question of the coming age will not be ‘how can we cope with being replaced by machines’, but rather ‘how can machines help me be a better person?’
CEEDS: You have patented technology that ‘dematerialises’ the 3D body scanner by providing accurate 3D scans of the body with only 2D camera hardware. This is the app Poikos. How did you come up with the idea?
N.W.I originally wanted to help people working in sweatshop clothing factories in Asia. I reasoned that a good way to help them to empower their wealth and independence would be if there was a trend towards custom-fit goods. That way, they could use the same general skills, but create more value for that single customer, and earn a lot more for their work, as independent contractors.
The problem was that there was no mass market for customised goods (sometimes called mass-customisation). Companies like Dell, for example, had pioneered the ability to customise a laptop with the exact specifications desired. However, to do this for clothing was very difficult and expensive, because of the problem of getting the right measurements.
So, I set out to solve that problem. In doing so, I discovered how the same technology created by my team can be applied to a range of further areas, including shopping online, and many areas of healthcare (including physiotherapy, and prosthetic limbs).
CEEDS:Could you tell us an example of it being implemented in everyday life?
N.W.Yes, in fact, Poikos itself can act as a persuasion technology. We can easily track how the body changes in size and shape over time. Furthermore, we can enable one to simulate an idealised future version of oneself – the same in every respect except bodymass – and then set that as a target to work towards. I discovered this myself by accident, and found it to be be extremely motivating! We’re now working on a way to bring this capability to easily to everyone on Earth.
CEEDS: What is your motivation to be a speaker at CEEDS’15 by Webit?What are your expectations from CEEDS’15?
N.W.CEEDS ’15 will showcase the best of the Balkans. I have long been excited by the number and quality of startups that I’ve seen coming from this part of Europe, and have many entrepreneur friends in the area. Now is a chance to come and visit the cultural core where all of this ingenuity comes from, to learn from it, and to share ideas.
CEEDS:Whom you will recommend to attend CEEDS’15 by Webit?
N.W.From my perspective, to get your finger on the pulse of this important wellspring of innovation, CEEDS is the place you need to be.