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Meet the team: #Taki-Taki


  • - Mr Charlie Young, Project Director: Digital Health, medicine and wellbeing innovator, technology transformation specialist
  • - Mr Andy Wilkins: User & customer experience expert, qualitative and quantitative health and life sciences research specialist
  • - Mr Nao Yoshino: Highly experienced web and mobile platform developer
  • - Exeter Science Park
  • - University of Exeter Department of Psychology & Medical School
  • - Plymouth University Behavioural Science Unit

Determining, achieving and sustaining personalised wellness during maternity can bring meaning to expectant mothers lives so that they – and their new family – can thrive. It is something we all possess the potential for, but often require personalised engagement to make wellness pertinent and lasting.

TakiTaki will be a ‘digital skin’ – an adaptive application which motivates users to undertake relevant and rewarding wellness action and then contextually monitors progress, outcomes and the impact achieved. It incorporates three mechanisms to achieve lasting, personalised engagement:

  • Hook’s theory of intrinsic goals and rewards: which ensure every action carries personal purpose and value
  • Social identity models: using linguistic style analysis to personalise dialogue between TakiTaki and the user, adapting as the mother’s identity evolves during pregnancy
  • Intervention feedback & adaptation: monitoring the timing and quality of planned activities to optimise how and when engagement occurs.

Combined, these three features will ensure TakiTaki provides highly personalised, evolving support and will also help to support longer-term digital interaction beyond nominal product life-spans of 2-4 months.

A case study of how Taki-Taki works:

  • Joanne starts using TakiTaki as she wants to improve her physical health now she is at her first trimester. She has a goal to participate in a range of new exercise activities and wants to monitor her experience of progress as she may give up if she doesn’t feel she’s making progress.
  • Joanne sets her first goal: start swimming as a new exercise and get to 50 lengths 2x weekly by her second trimester.
  • TakiTaki helps Joanne break down this goal into a number of realistic steps.
  • Each step is recorded as an intervention and Joanne also provides contextual information, e.g. time-of-day, reminders, motivational messages and images.
  • TakiTaki sends Joanne her first intervention message and monitors how well she completes it:  when, time taken, quality of effort, how much achieved. At the end of the intervention ‘window’, a check-in with Joanne establishes some contextual feedback – emotions, barriers, enablers.
  • For her effort, Joanne receives a TakiTaki reward: a positive feedback message; a TakiTaki token, all of which are aggregated for use as reinforcement messages on other occasions.
  • This gathered feedback is also used by TakiTaki to enhance the delivery of subsequent interventions: if an activity was not completed, the feedback is used to adapt how the intervention is delivered; if it was completed, then the feedback can either enhance delivery or be stored for use on a future occasion.

What is key in Taki-Taki and why we believe this will work:

TakiTaki applies proven behaviour theory to incentivise behaviour change and new research into how linguistic style relates to social identities. Combined, these can help a digital mentor listen, understand and communicate with a user, in this case an expectant mother.

The evidence for both areas exists and the level of adaptability this can allow for in the human-digital interface will help overcome ‘app death’. Also, by addressing meaningful wellbeing goals, health benefits will be derived indirectly, thus avoiding a daily reminder that underlying health issues have to be managed.

TakiTaki rewards are only communicated to the user when an intervention has been concluded; creating a ‘surprise’ provides positive emotional feedback, which increases motivation towards subsequent activities and goals.

The primary focus of Taki-Taki is on expectant mothers, however it could also be applied in:

  • Illness recovery supporting users in return-to-work plans
  • Health management and professionals wellness– keeping decision-makers well to avert health crises leading to low attendance, poor morale or increased staff turnover
  • Community-based health initiatives – supporting communities to improve wellness and reduce social isolation
  • Addressing early warning signs of lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases in millennial populations
  • Enhancing clinical trial research to monitor side-effects, reduce drop-out and gather contextualised real-world data for enhanced treatment analytics.

 The importance of this project is:

  • Most apps focus on one condition, yet a thriving life is more than our health. TakiTaki focuses on the personal ambitions of the individual and contextualises them in terms of wellness – mental & psychological wellbeing, physical activity, diet & nutrition, rest & sleep.
  • It is user-centred: the user decides what happens and designs their goals, rather than be told what they should do.
  • As healthcare enters the ‘omics’ era, gathering meaningful data (provenance, context, relevance) is critical to success and will reduce the gap between clinical accuracy and the lived experience of patients, with TakiTaki helping to bridge that gap.
  • Many wellbeing programmes lack evidence bases; TakiTaki aims to change this and contribute towards biological co-kinetic inter-relationships – how our action influences biological systems and interactions with pharmaceutical treatments.


How you can contribute

  • - Experts in wellbeing in maternity to challenge the user journeys as they are developed
  • - Professionals with viable audiences who would be willing to help test the app during design and development
  • - Professionals who would be able to test the initial release of the app themselves and with relevant user audiences
  • - Conversations with people who have worked on similar projects so we can learn from your experiences, if willing to do so.

Further information

ProjTakiTaki slidedeck Q 20.06.18 (PDF, 875KB)


  1. Anything that will improve wellbeing has got to be good. Good luck with your project.

    1. Guest

      Thank you Thomas, shifting the focus to how the individual values the purpose for improving wellness, rather than handing over responsibility to others is a challenge. We hope that incentivisation that means something to the individual will help to achieve this.

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