Motify is a new app developed by Brampton entrepreneur Shauna Jones. She got the idea to create the app after noticing her younger brother Christopher, along with others on the autism spectrum, did not have access to the kinds of digital tools that would help them transition from high school into university and beyond. The name of the app comes from a fusion of the words “motivate” and “simplify.” The company was originally formed as part of the Sheridan Incubator called EDGE.
Autism spectrum disorder and autism are both complex disorders of brain development that can cause challenges with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviours. When Jones realized in 2015 that none of the 400,000 existing Android apps were tailored towards those who were on the spectrum, she saw a gap to fill.
“One of the biggest reasons we wanted to do an app,” says Jones, “was because we wanted to use data analytics to help create effective solutions for each unique user.” She also says, “companies like Netflix and Amazon use your preferences and data to help suggest things you may like. We wanted to bring similar techniques to Accessibility.”
She adds, “We decided to focus on some of the known struggles many people with autism face and then considered how to approach that in a school setting and eventually in a work and home environment.” The Motify app has several components to help users.
The Life Organizer is an algorithm that automatically creates all of a student’s daily tasks for each semester, including when to go to bed, study, and take breaks. Jones says, “The goal is to help them organize their schedules around effective time management to achieve academic success.”
Another component of Motify is Social Interaction. Jones says, “users are able to be coached on things like job interviews, introducing themselves to new people, giving speeches, and asking their professors or boss for required accommodations.” This works using personality insights, machine learning, and facial and tone recognition.
Jones points out that Motify is not just for people with autism. “We have designed it to provide data and suggestions to the network of people that provide them support.” This could include parents, teachers, learning strategists as well as medical professionals. The Network function is able to create goals and structured tasks that the user and their support network can work on together, including sending ideas that help provide proactive instead of reactive suggestions and solutions.
Motify also helps students deal with high-stress situations such as exam periods through the Anxiety component. “It uses artificial intelligence to help make suggestions based on the user’s schedule and the mood changes the user indicates in the application,” says Jones. It also links users to available services in their school or to external suggested resources and de-stressing techniques.
The Future of the Motify App
Jones sees a lot of potential for the Motify app. She and Chris-Beth Cowie, the team’s business development rep, plan to pilot the application in a few colleges and universities in Canada for the first few months and then offer it on the market.
The company is also connecting with researchers, learning strategists, and behavioral therapists to continue to learn and to grow the product. Jones and Cowie recently went to Hong Kong to meet with potential investors and to learn more about opportunities in the international markets. “We have also built a roadmap to expand Motify to provide tools for in the home and at work,” says Jones.
The Motify company is finalizing deals with a few schools for September 2018. “We are working tirelessly to launch Motify in September 2018,” says Jones.
Head over to www.motify.ca for more information.