What is Performetric and how did the idea come about?
Until recently, the majority of job offers consisted, essentially, in physical activities. However, this paradigm has changed and, in a few decades, a significant part of this offer became mostly mental and cognitive. With this shift in the paradigm, mental fatigue became one of the most concerning health issues currently affecting society. This is aggravated by the growing competition and precariousness in the workplace, the overload of information as well as the general increase of the pressure felt by employees.
These factors inspired and motivated the development of the Performetric project[AP1] . This project builds on the fact that computers are used on many of today’s workplaces to propose a non-invasive and non-intrusive system for the detection and monitoring of mental fatigue. It relies on the analysis of the users’ interaction patterns with the computer, as well as Artificial Intelligence techniques, to identify behavioral changes potentially related to fatigue or stress.
Performetric is a real-time management system that aims to support context-aware leisure and work environments, that can improve both the quality of life and the performance of its users. In the organizational context, Performetric has as main aim to improve the performance of employees as well as to increase the availability and applicability of fatigue management initiatives, contributing towards more friendly and efficient workplaces. Moreover, it also aims to support a better management of the employees and their work time. This translates into a positive impact in the organization’s productivity and an increased quality of life and better health of the employees. The project thus results especially appealing for companies in which groups of people work together in a same environment, while using a computer.
How seriously does fatigue affect productivity?
Fatigue has a major impact on productivity (both direct and indirect) and this impact depends on the industry. According to some studies (e.g. “Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. 2014”) fatigue has an impact of approximately $ 136.4 billion, mostly through productivity losses. But fatigue does not only affect productivity, it is also connected with well-being and wellness. Here, the numbers are even higher, reaching costs of $ 300B caused by fatigue and stress, and specifically caused by absenteeism, presenteeism, costs with health and welfare system, and low motivation.
How do you get the system to adapt to each type of user?
The Performetric is able to adapt to the user since it does not use generic models, unlike many systems. We use machine learning algorithms that allow the system to create a behavioral biometric profile for each user (using keystroke and mouse dynamics), and furthermore, the system is also sensitive to the context, this is very important, because each user has different behaviors when performing different tasks using a computer as a writing or drawing task.
What future do you envision for machine learning?
Machine learning is being or will soon be used in most of the systems that we use nowadays. The big companies (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc.) are already betting heavily on the use of machine learning in their services and products, as it will allow the creation of more “intelligent” and capable systems. These same companies are also working and developing available open source tools for other companies to use their knowledge and technology in their own products, making the techniques of machine learning accessible to anyone.
What are your growth goals for the remainder of 2016?
This year our main objective is internationalization, to go global. Besides that, we are trying to work with some big companies in Portugal in order to gain traction and more know-how.
How can startups based in Portugal compete with London, Berlin or Silicon Valley?
Well, I think that the Portuguese Startups can compete as equals in most cases. However, it remains true that startups in London, Berlin or Silicon Valley end up having access to a larger network, and often access to investors and large companies that we do not have in Portugal. However, I believe that everything is at a distance of a little trip. This is part of any global business: someone could hardly manage a global business without leaving Portugal.
To find out more about Performetric visit https://www.performetric.net/