IPG Mediabrands has announced a regional pro bono collaboration with plano.
The young health-tech company launched late last year with a mission to save sight and empower lives. plano was founded by Australian-born Dr Mo Dirani and will launch in Australia later this year.
Following extensive scientific research plano have developed an empowering app to help manage excessive and inappropriate devise usage by children and mitigate the associated onset of myopia (short-sightedness), with as many as 80-90 per cent of young adults in major Asian cities now suffering from the disorder.
The number of people with myopia is expected to increase to 5 billion by the year 2050 (half the world’s population), if adjustments are not made to current lifestyle trends.
IPG Mediabrands CEO APAC Leigh Terry commented: “As a part of an industry that delivers marketing messages for brands in an increasingly digital world, we support the uptake of emerging technology, however we also undertake to acknowledge the wider impact and responsibility of doing so.”
Terry continued: “plano flips the problem into the solution using innovative technology to help mitigate the public health, societal and economic issues posed by these growing global trends.
“It teaches our children how to avoid the pitfalls of excessive device usage and establish a healthy relationship with emerging technology.”
At a network level IPG Mediabrands APAC have aligned to support plano, on a pro-bono basis protracting their growth and development into markets across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, through a combination of strategic partnerships, media, expertise, and awareness driving CSR initiatives.
IPG Mediabrands APAC head of marketing and communications Naomi Michael commented: “As a part of our ‘work that matters’ program, and via a variety of initiatives rolled out over the next 12 months this partnership will unite our 3000 people across the APAC region with opportunity to directly contribute to a positive societal shift that can be tangibly felt and will have a lasting impact.”
The increase in smart device usage and myopia is not isolated to one country, but rather it’s becoming a global public health and economic problem.
In Singapore alone, the direct cost of treating/managing myopia was estimated at USD$755 million a year, with estimated global costs reaching approximately USD$328 billion per year.
Device dependency, gaming addiction, cyber bullying, diabetes and lack of outdoor activity are all growing global public health epidemics linked to excessive or inappropriate device usage by children worldwide.
Dr. Mo Dirani, founder and managing director of plano commented: “It is critical that we intervene early to reduce the risk of children developing sight-threatening myopia, as well as a host of other adverse outcomes resulting from inappropriate device usage behaviour.”
Dirani continues, “The collaboration and support we are receiving from IPG Mediabrands in association with the APAC Media Lab has been incredible.
“We must work together with important stakeholders, including the government and industry to tackle this growing problem that will critically worsen in the next 10 years if left unaddressed.”
The innovative plano app developed to proactively prevent and correct these issues works in the background of phones and tablets.
It is the first of its kind to provide a suite of child safety functions, while using science-based features to help modify behaviour in children to reduce myopia related risk factors and encourage healthier device usage.
Carefully developed smart features empower its users to manage their children’s time spent on devices, correct face-to-screen-distance, good eye care habits, and a points generated reward system to empower device-free outdoor activity (distance viewing and UV light exposure are protective against the development of myopia).
plano first launched in Singapore in late 2017, where they have already generated over 60,000 downloads, established broad industry collaborations and partnered with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, to drive awareness and education to over 320,000 Singaporean children in the next 12 months.
plano entered the India market last month to an overwhelming response, generating thousands of downloads by parents in the first few days alone.
Dr Mo Dirani commented “India now has more smartphone users than the U.S. has people, the growth rate for smartphone penetration is the highest in the world.
“A study conducted on 10,000 urban school children in Delhi established a high incidence of myopia progression being linked to time spent in front of screens.
“With the help and support of IPG Mediabrands we hope to modify this trend more quickly than we thought possible.”