University of Michigan Startup Helps Travelers Fight Jet Lag

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As a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Olivia Walch developed the Entrain app, which reads the body’s circadian rhythms to help people combat jet lag.

Now Walch is selling her algorithms as an application programming service (API) that will be embedded in other pieces of software apps for various audiences, including shift workers, cancer patients, and athletes.

“Our product is a suite of algorithms that I spent my Ph.D. understanding,” says Walch, who earned her doctorate in applied and interdisciplinary math last September. “The applications go well beyond travel. Entrain is the alpha version of what the company could be.”

Walch is working with Marriott and U-M Athletics and will display the Entrain app at the 17th annual Celebrate Invention event on Oct. 18. Hosted at the Michigan League Ballroom, the event is sponsored by U-M Tech Transfer and showcases the 444 inventions created by researchers at the university this fiscal year.

Walch’s company Arcascope plans to develop some of the apps itself, including one for cancer patients.

“It’s like GPS for your body’s clock,” she says. “We can tell you based on your recent activity what time your body thinks it is.”

Walch is also working with Marriott in Washington, D.C. to embed the algorithms into the hotel chain’s app as part of a Travel Experience Incubator, a 12-week program that supports startups working in the travel space.

“It boils down to people thinking it’s just sleep. It’s so much more than that,” says Walch. “If you take care of your circadian rhythms, you’ll be able to perform at your peak in more hours of the day.”

More information about Entrain can be found here.

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