Albert Chen, co-founder and CEO of GeneOS, explains how his company combines personal wellness insights with the potential of individuals being able to share in the value from their genetic data.
How would you describe your project?
Albert Chen: GeneOS is a self-sovereign personal genomics and wellness platform where users can obtain health insights generated by an algorithmic agglomeration of their DNA, lab and activity data. The data storage and access are powered by cryptography and privacy-preserving technologies, allowing users to share in the value created by their data without losing ownership. The underlying protocol G.E.M., which stands for the Genome Equity Model, tokenizes each data collection. Eventually, participants may be able to benefit from renting their data for research or getting paid for personalized healthcare recommendations.
Where did your initial idea come from?
Albert Chen: Since (Chief Product Officer) Jay Bowles and I had developed an application using non-fungible tokens in the summer of 2018, we were inspired to create a decentralized marketplace for digital assets going into the London Hackathon. It soon became apparent that one of the most interesting use cases for digital assets would be data access. Jay, with his degree in genetics and his familiarity with the personal health data space, guided the team into eventually finding this niche where data proliferation is not only critical for social impact but would also be best facilitated by blockchain technology.
Can you introduce your team and tell us what makes it special?
Albert Chen: Our team is comprised of two pairs of ex-co-founders: Jay and Jens Elstner (CTO), whose personal health data analytics platform Keepzer pushed the self-sovereign-data narrative in 2013. There’s Ben Tse (Chief Creative Officer) and me, whose e-commerce houseware brand UM launched in 2011. This leads to a very balanced mix of expertise in our team. Ben creates the brand identity, visual design and user interface, Jay translates them into front-end user experience and devises the product incentives, Jens constructs the supporting back-end technical infrastructure and logic. I connect them to the blockchain and circle back to Ben with digital marketing and business strategy.
What stage is the project at and what are your plans for scaling up?
Albert Chen: Our core offerings consist of two products: the G.E.M. protocol, on which the genetic data profit-sharing is made possible, and the GeneOS platform, which is a personal wellness dashboard that offers insights and analytics based on genomic and other health data. We are currently doing internal testing on our protocol and have just finished designing the wellness platform, which we plan to scale by targeting early adopters with interest in genomics-aided wellness insights. The platform will feature a more intuitive and informative dashboard, which will be critical in gaining initial adoption.
Why did you decide to use blockchain technology, and specifically EOSIO?
Albert Chen: Blockchain technology marks the first time that it is possible to have tamper-proof and censorship-resistant records of who owns what. This is the only way self-sovereign data monetization can work without any intermediary. However, most blockchain implementations offer cumbersome user experiences. We believe adoption for consumer-facing products such as GeneOS can only be accomplished with a blockchain-invisible approach. EOSIO’s account architecture, fee-less transactions, and WebAuthn integration allow us to create a blockchain application with the experience of a standard app. Moreover, the choice of C++ as the smart contract language and the available development toolkits make it very easy to develop and iterate on EOSIO.
How has the EOS Community responded to your project?
Albert Chen: We’re very grateful to have received mostly positive feedback from the community, with many people telling us that they had been holding off on sequencing their genome until we came along. We also received a fair bit of product launch subscriptions after winning the EOS Global Hackathon Series Grand Finale.
More information on GeneOS available on https://www.geneos.me/
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