The Longevity

Wearable mHealth for Monitoring Cardiac Conditions is Quickly Gaining Ground

Two cardiac mHealth companies have had a big week--with announcements for both involving Mayo Clinic. The AliveCor and BioSig deals are indicative of the rapid adoption trend around cardiac wearable devices with integrated AI capabilities.

San Francisco-based company [AliveCor] announced a Series D funding round of $30 million, led by Omron Healthcare with participation from the Mayo Clinic.

AliveCor, whose Kardia Mobile was among the first ECG wearables on the market, has announced the release of Kardia Pro, a platform that adds artificial intelligence capabilities to help doctors and patients identify atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia and an indicator of potential stroke.

Separately, the Mayo Clinic announced a 10-year partnership with BioSig Technologies, a Minneapolis-based medical device company looking to develop its PURE EP cardiac signal acquisition and display platform for commercial use.

BioSig has been working to create a digital health device that can help electrophysiologists diagnose and treat patients with abnormal heart rates and rhythms, including those suffering from atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

These power of these wearable products is that they provide baseline measurements of cardiac patterns, coupled with the individualized tracking and learning of AI.

“During the first month of usage of Kardia Mobile, we learn about a user’s individualized heart profile,” says AliveCor’s CEO, Vic Gundotra. “Your personalized heart profile can be used for two benefits. First, it helps keep the data clean. If a doctor is monitoring your health using Kardia Pro, he or she can be more confident that the data he/she is reviewing is truly her patient’s and not someone else's. Second, and even more exciting, is that in the future, a heart profile may be able to find, and flag to your doctor, important changes in your ECG.”

"These are the kinds of tools that in the future no cardiologist will want to not practice with," Gundotra adds. "AI will supplement a cardiologist’s service, really being able to provide a higher level of service to the patient."

It's no surprise, then, that cardiac mHealth devices are front and center in the rapid shift toward patient-centric and consumer-centric care.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making their way quickly into the healthcare space, led by tech giants like Microsoft and IBM, whose Watson Health unit is partnering with health systems and mHealth companies across the globe.

“It’s (advancing) personalized healthcare,” says Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, IBM Watson Health’s chief health officer. “The potential of mHealth in empowering individuals and promoting populations is enormous.”

Apple Lags Far Behind Amazon, Google in Smart-home Market

 

While Apple has been a market leader in smartphone sales for over a decade, they have yet to even offer a voice-controlled device specifically for the home that could compete with Amazon’s Alexa or Alphabet’s Google Home.

Consumer electronics giant Apple (AAPL) is "losing badly" in the nascent smart-home market, despite having arguably the best user experience with its HomeKit technology, Edison Investment Research analyst Richard Windsor said in a note Tuesday.

Apple is a "very distant third" in the smart-home market..., Windsor said. [They have] been rumored to be working on a home appliance that uses its Siri voice-response personal assistant. But so far Siri is mostly an application on Apple's iPhone smartphones.

Siri of course can be voice-activated, but research shows the power of the home devices is that a user can have both hands fully occupied with some other task and still activate it.

"Usage of both Alexa and Google Home show that over 60% of all usage is generated when the user's hands are busy with another task, [said Windsor.]  “This makes the use case of Siri on a device that needs to be removed from the pocket not as easy or as intuitive as Alexa or Google Home."

Still, Apple has made advances that neither of the other two tech giants have achieved.

Apple had done a better job of integrating home devices so users can give a single command when doing things like going to bed, leaving the home or returning home, Windsor said.

"This makes it easy to turn off all the lights, lock up, turn down the heating, and so on with a single button press, which is something that neither of the other two have come close to offering," Windsor said.

But consumer preference for the voice-activated home device may mean they miscalculated market priorities. If Apple is going to enter this burgeoning market, they are going to have a lot of catching up to do.

Amazon's Alexa grabbed 88% of the intelligent home speaker market in the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics said Tuesday. Alphabet came in second with 10% market share after launching its Google Home speaker in November, the research firm said.

Some 4.2 million intelligent home speakers were shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter, up nearly 600% year over year, Strategy Analytics said.

"Amazon has had a near two-year head start over its rivals and has done an excellent job of building out an ecosystem of compatible devices and services or skills," Strategy Analytics analyst David Watkins said in a statement. "However, Google is hot on Amazon's heels and the search giant should be able to significantly cut Amazon's lead over the coming year thanks to its superior AI platform and well-established technology-licensing model, which has proved successful through its Chromecast built-in program."

Nokia Announces IoT ‘Patient Care’ Platform and Rebranding of Withings’ Health Mate App, Products

The World Mobile Congress begins today in Barcelona, Spain where Consumer Internet of Things is one of seven highlighted themes. The power of Consumer IoT to disrupt the healthcare industry will be central to this afternoon’s session, entitled “The Future Of Health Is Digital”.

Just in time for this global Congress, Nokia announced it is launching its own IoT platform called Patient Care, which will integrate with several health and fitness-tracking products that were part of last year’s acquisition of Withings.

Less than one year after Nokia acquired Withings for $192.3 million, the telecommunications company will commit more forcefully to Nokia as a digital health company with a rebranding of Withings to Nokia early this summer, according to a company news release. The move was part of a series of new developments at the business, which will include a new connected device platform called Patient Care and a redesigned Health Mate application.

Patient Care is an Internet of Things platform used to support remote monitoring by clinicians. The platform syncs with the Health Mate app to share data gathered from the patient’s use of the company’s wireless blood pressure monitor and body cardio scale. Other devices that could be integrated into that platform include a wireless, FDA-cleared thermometer, and smartwatches and activity trackers currently branded as Withings.

Nokia is already promising to address the myriad ways its Patient Care platform and Health Mate app could be specifically adapted for the senior population.

Nokia’s digital health team is also collaborating with IBM for senior health, Cedric Hutchings, Nokia’s vice president of digital health, said in a phone interview. Nokia is working on ways to use cognitive computing such as integrating cognitive functionality into wearables and smart devices for home care. These voice-activated tools could use simple commands and offer reminders to take medication or turn off appliances.

With a trial in the UK underway and a few in US pending, the platform aims not only at at giving clinicians access to crucial patient data; through its redesigned Health Mate app, family members and caregivers will also be able to monitor information about loved ones.  

The platform is currently undergoing a series of clinical studies in the UK and U.S. The National Health Service in the UK currently uses Nokia’s platform in a 69,000 person clinical program to improve understanding of hypertension and how remote monitoring can be used to reduce hypertension rates. In the U.S., Fairview Health System and the University of Kentucky are also assessing the Patient Care platform.

The redesigned Health Mate app will improve user experiences by making it easier to add devices and share information with family members. The app will also include coaching tools to improve patient engagement.

Entrepreneur of the Week: Davide Vigano, Sensoria

Sensoria began in 2010 as a wearable tech company aimed at helping runners avoid injury by improving their technique. They still offer a number of wearables for advanced fitness tracking, but over the past few years, the Redmond, Washington-based company has taken its proprietary textile sensors and adapted them for a number of consumer-facing healthcare products.

By integrating artificial intelligence software, Sensoria now thinks of itself as an IoT company whose healthcare products can enhance treatment and even prevent diabetic foot complications; improve fall detection and prevention; enhance prosthetics fit and function; and track and augment rehabilitation. 

Longevity Network: What does Sensoria, the company do?

David Vignano: Our vision is The Garment is The Computer®. Headquartered in Redmond, (WA) Sensoria Inc. is a leading developer of IoMe (Internet of Me) wearables and artificial intelligence software solutions that improve people's lives. Our proprietary textile sensor-infused smart garments, Sensoria Core microelectronics and cloud system enable smart footwear and clothing to convert data into actionable information for health and fitness users in real-time.

LN: Can you tell us about your products and how they work? 

DV: Our smart socks are infused with our proprietary 100% textile sensors imbedded in the plantar area of the foot which delivers superior accuracy in terms of not only how far and how fast but how well you walk or run by tracking cadence, foot landing technique and contact time on ground.  The current version connects to a Bluetooth smart detachable anklet which pairs with Sensoria Run or Sensoria Walk applications which provides real-time audio and video feedback.  The newest version, sock 2.0, connects to our revolutionary new technology platform, Sensoria Core, which is comprised of proprietary textile sensors, electronics, mobile application and cloud infrastructure.

Our smart upper garments provide accurate and consistent heart rate monitoring without the hassle of wearing a strap.  The upper garments are compatible with Polar H7 and Garmin Premium as well as with 3rd party apps.  The HRM is dual mode (Bluetooth Smart and Ant+).  The garments are made with Emana® yarn, a far infrared technology that improves skin elasticity.

The socks and upper garments are antimicrobial, machine washable and have moisture wicking capabilities.

LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?

DV: Originally, we were focused on the running marketplace.  There are over 120M active runners world-wide and according to recent studies, between 65 and 80% are injured at least one per year each year.  Sensoria not only wants to let runners know how far and how fast they run, but also how well they run which will allow them to increase performance while reducing their likelihood for injury.  In late 2010, we realized that the clothing we wear could become the next wave of ultra-personal computing (following the PC, and then the smart phone). Sensoria is focused on delivering the vision that The Garment is the Computer®.  We felt that there was an opportunity for the sports apparel and fashion industry to reinvent itself through technology, so we set out to create smart garments that behave like a biometric sensing computer that feels natural with elegant, cool looks.

LN: Who are your primary users? How do your products benefit the 50+ population?

DV: Originally, Sensoria was geared toward the running community; however, over time we realized that our same sensor technology could benefit not only the elderly but the healthcare industry as well, specifically in terms of neurological diseases, diabetic foot complications, as well as fall detection and prevention.

In 2016, we released Sensoria® Walk for the elderly, people with gait impairments, limited mobility and/or people going through rehabilitation.  The app accurately tracks steps, distance and time.  Sensoria® Walk is available for iOS devices via the app store.

In addition, we are currently working with Dr. Sujata Pradham, UW Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, in enabling earlier discovery and treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms using our smart socks and Fitbit trackers.  You can view details here.

UpBed is a Sensoria partner that leveraged our SDK. Sensoria Core is currently used in trials to reduce risk of falling in dementia and Alzheimer's patients in Maine.  You can view a short video here.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

DV: As a start-up, we are heavily invested in R&D and therefore, needed to create a multi-disciplinary team so that we could offer a robust end-to-end solution from sensors to software to hardware to the cloud.  The core competencies of Sensoria include strong engineering and product development, which includes hardware, software, firmware, material, mechanical, signal processing and other capabilities.  We also have experience designing and manufacturing sensor infused garments as well as strong marketing acumen.

LN: How has Sensoria the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

DV: We knew that we needed a team of multidisciplinary engineers but getting them to all speak the same language was a growing process for us.  We might have underestimated how much of a challenge that would be.  It was definitely the right decision but it took a bit of time to get us to that place.  Now, it is great because they are able to solve one another’s problems.

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your products?

DV: One of the biggest challenges was in terms of finding the correct sensors.  We were not able to find what we wanted in the market place so we spent a lot of time and resources in developing our own proprietary textile sensors.

LN: What most excites you about the health technology market?

DV: Sensoria has always been committed to developing wearable solutions that help improve people’s lives.  We are excited to be partnering with a team of cardiologists from the University of Pharma to release Heart Sentinel™ to the marketplace.  Heart Sentinel™ is a cardiologist-designed, patent pending algorithm that may detect cardiac irregularities that often precede a catastrophic event, such as sudden cardiac arrest.  There are so many verticals and applications that can utilize our sensing technology.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

DV: Recent studies show that adults 50+ will continue to be the most powerful consumers in the marketplace.  The last of the baby boomers turned 50 in 2014 and there are over 100M adults in the US alone over the age of 50.  In addition, this portion of the population has the most disposable income so this is encouraging.  What I would advise is that their solutions need to combine ease of use with technical sophistication.  These startups should invest in conducting appropriate market research to determine what this section of the marketplace needs, what and how much they are willing to pay and how they can differentiate their offerings as this is a highly competitive field.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

DV: Sensoria is heavily invested in R&D.  We are also constantly improving our current offerings incorporating customer feedback.  Yes, we have different products and projects in development; however, I am not at liberty to discuss.  At CES earlier this month, we announced our collaboration with VIVOBAREFOOT in the creation of a Smart Running Shoe.  You can view a recent article in Digital Trends here.

LN: Where do you see Sensoria five years from now?  

DV: Our long term goal is to become the standard of wearables, but we want to take it a step beyond that – a more of an Internet of Me approach where the garment itself should be able to replace a wearable device. We are more of an Internet of Things company that wants to IoT enable our garments / accessories or partner with other brands to IoT enable their products versus a wearable device company. In addition, we see continued applications and partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, military, etc.  The options and verticals are seemingly endless from our perspective.  It really depends on finding the right partners to deliver the right products / solutions.

LN: What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?

DV: I hope that technology is so advanced that we are making great strides in curing or at least significantly decreasing the progression of all incurable diseases.  Even better would be the ability to predict disease before a person becomes infected.  Disease prevention is less costly than disease management.

Davide Vigano is cofounder and CEO of Sensoria Inc. Sensoria designs, develops and produces bio-sensing wearable garments. The vision of the company is that the Garment itself will become the next ultra-personal, mobile computer. Davide is a former Microsoft partner level executive with over 25 years of sales, marketing and extensive product management experience. As an intern he started the international localization group for MacWorks and MacOffice in 1987.

More recently, he served as General Manager of the Health Solutions Group where he was in charge of marketing and product strategy for both HealthVault and the Amalga product line. He acted as Vice President of the Worldwide SMSP Medium Business division which he grew 18% YOY to over $14B. Davide also managed the Italian Marketing, Business and Enterprise operations for five years and brought it to number one in the world for contribution margin, 6th largest Microsoft subsidiary in the world by revenues.

To learn more about Sensoria, visit their website or follow them on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

AARP Announces $10k Innovation Prize

The Innovation Champion Award is aimed at spurring innovation in aging, "empowering people to choose how they live as they age." A primary criterion, however, will be universal design, that is, design that appeals and offers usability to all age groups.

Caregiving will be the theme of the competition this year, a field that will demand innovation over the next few years, according to AARP.

By 2020, 117 million Americans are expected to need assistance, but the overall number of caregivers will only reach 45 million. This is a huge opportunity for companies large and small to reach an emerging market – and improve the lives of caregivers and their recipients.

Entries in any of the six following caregiving categories will be accepted:

  1. Health & Safety Awareness
  2. Care Coordination
  3. Transition Support
  4. Social Well-Being
  5. Caregiver Quality of Life
  6. Daily Essential Activities

Companies interested in competing in the event need to apply by April 15th. In addition to the $10,000 prize, winners will receive a trip for 2 company representatives to Washington D.C. where they will be given a tour AARP’s Innovation Lab and meet with AARP Chief Innovation Officer, Terry Bradwell. They will also be given official recognition at AARP HQ event, an ad or Editorial coverage in i3 magazine, and AARP Innovation Champion consulting.

Entrepreneur of the Week: Patrick Bertagna, GTX Corp

GTX Corp -- an acronym for Global Trek Xploration -- was an early player in the location-tracking wearable tech market. When it was founded in 2002, as the name suggests, GTX was originally focused on outdoor adventurers, but they now operate in a much broader market: anyone looking to keep track of a person or other valuable. 

In early 2015, they launched a product specifically aimed at helping caregivers keep track of their loved ones with dementia, Alzeimers or other conditions that cause a person to wander. They now offer a suite of products they describe as an IoT Personal Location Services (PLS) platform. These products use patented tracking methods to provide continuous, real-time location coordinates rendered on a map on a GTX portal.

GTX Corp is a holding company that owns and operates two subsidiaries and has been publicly traded since 2008. It is headquartered in Los Angeles and has a European distribution and fulfillment center in Ireland / U.K. They also have international reseller/distributors in 13 countries and service customers in over 20 countries. 

We spoke to Founder, Chairman and CEO Patrick Bertagna about GTX Corp and the opportunity he sees in the 50+ market. 

Longevity Network: What does GTX Corp, the company do?

Patrick Bertagna: GTX Corp is a pioneer and innovator in Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS, cellular and BLE tracking and recovery location based services. Through its proprietary IoT enterprise monitoring platform GTX offers a complete end-to-end solution of hardware, software and connectivity, backed by an extensive portfolio of patents.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with distributors in 14 countries and customers in over 35 countries, GTX is known for its award-winning patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack- the world’s first invisible wearable technology device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.

LN: Can you tell us about the GPS SmartSole and how it works?

PB: The GPS SmartSoles are a wearable tracking and monitoring device that communicates the location of the wearer without user intervention. The GPS Smart Insole is a communication platform sending location and movement to the GTX app or portal and in the near future will include vital signs and bio-metrics, such as heart rate, pulse, weight and temperature. The simplicity behind the SmartSole Platform is that when someone wanders off or becomes lost, a geo-fence alert is emailed or text, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the wanderer’s location, speed and bearing.

pb-ss-product-feature

LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?

PB: We believe the most effective technical solutions are the ones most easily used. Our goal was to develop miniaturized, low power consumption GPS location finding technology packaged in the most portable user friendly format- hence we pioneered what is now the multi-billion dollar wearable tech industry. With this technology, the opportunities were vast- ranging from seniors with cognitive memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, children with autism, military and law enforcement, mobile work force and high value assets. Our patented technology delivers a new level of functional oversight, security and peace of mind to a wide variety of audiences and needs.

LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?

PB: Those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury. Currently there are 100 million people worldwide who are part of this at risk wandering group and that number is expected to reach 277 million by 2050.

The 50+ population are more technically inclined and live farther away from loved ones than ever before in history, our product empowers them to be more free and enjoy life more while providing real time information to loved ones even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

PB: The original team was a group of like-minded business people that I had worked with in my previous ventures, all with certain skill sets that helped us get past the idea phase and into the realizations phase. We had a big idea and people wanted to come join us, over the years our inner circle kept growing and we kept being introduced to new experts in their respective fields and we built out our team. I’m proud to say Louis Rosenbaum the co-founder is still with us as both a board member and head of operations and finance. Many of our board members and management have been with us for over a decade. We have a very passionate and committed team.

LN: How has GTX the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

PB: At its core not much- we set out to make a best in class  miniaturized tracking solution and sell that all over the world and we now have active customers in over 35 countries.  We have diversified somewhat as we don’t just make and sell products, we also license our technology through our extensive patent portfolio. It did take a lot longer than expected for all the moving parts in the eco system to come to fruition, but the good news is we have a lot more runway in front of us as new technologies become available the path the what’s possible keeps on growing…

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?

PB: It was going to take a lot more time, money and effort.

LN: What most excites you about the aging and or health technology market?

PB: The size and scope of this growing market - The advancements in science and medicine enables people to live longer and they expect a longer and higher quality of life in their sunset years. Globalization has increased disposable income so hundreds of millions of people now have access to technology, first time in history- by 2020 there will be 6 billion smartphones in use across the globe. It’s truly a remarkable time to be part of this and watch the next generation break 100 years in average life span.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

PB: Balance your messaging, this audience wants information not just tweets or YouTube videos. Provide a quality product or service, it’s not just about price and have patience, this demo typically does not impulse buy.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

PB: Yes we have several in the works, ranging from home health monitoring, bio metrics and we are also developing products and solutions for the military and law enforcement. We are also looking at developing a tracking, monitoring and compliance solution for the medical industry.

LN: Where do you see GTX five years from now?

PB: Staying at the forefront of this industry, developing new applications for tracking and monitoring people and high value assets. It’s in our DNA- we all want to know where someone or something is and GTX is in the Where is business.

Patrick Bertagna is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and thought leader in the wearable technology industry with 35+ years in building technology and consumer product companies. Since 2002 Patrick has been the founder, Chairman and CEO of GTX Corp (GTXO), a pioneer in the wearable technology industry and co-inventor of over a dozen GPS and communication protocol patents currently in the GTX IP portfolio. GTX has been at the forefront of Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS tracking and recovery location based solutions and is known for its award-winning, patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack - the world’s first invisible wearable tracking device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.

Mr. Bertagna also sits on the JBF Board which engages in philanthropic initiatives around the world, empowering women and children living in impoverished and underdeveloped communities by enabling food security; promoting access to education and cultural exchanges; assisting in medical aid and disaster relief; while building and promoting peace.

Mr. Bertagna was born in the South of France, grew up in Los Angeles, went to Cal State University of Northridge and has lived in several countries throughout his career and is fluent in French and Spanish. He has formed alliances with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, T-Mobile, EE, AT&T, Telefonica, Google, Federated Stores, Netscape and GE; and has been a keynote speaker at numerous industry trade shows and conferences.

Breath Monitor Test Takes on an Old Foe: The Flu

Technology for personalized diagnostics seems to be advancing at a dizzying pace, and this breath monitor from a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington is tackling one of our most mundane--and prevalent--illnesses: the flu.

The device, [developed by materials science and engineering professor Perena Gouma], is similar to the breathalyzers law enforcement use to determine if you've had too much to drink. The difference is that it employs low-cost sensors to analyze a person's breath and isolate biomarkers that can indicate whether or not you have the flu.

If a device like this were available over-the-counter, we could catch the flu early and treat it before it becomes a major health problem. What's more, the breath-analyzing gadget could be used to help keep the flu virus from spreading in places like...office[s].

"Before we applied nanotechnology to create this device, the only way to detect biomarkers in a person's breath was through very expensive, highly-technical equipment in a lab, operated by skilled personnel," Gouma said. "Now, this technology could be used by ordinary people to quickly and accurately diagnose illness."

This relatively inexpensive diagnostic tool provides a simple and elegant tool that is proving to be every bit as accurate as those more traditional, expensive tests performed in a doctor’s office, and with simple modifications, has applications for conditions far beyond the flu.

[Professor Gouma] used existing medical research into the biomarkers in a patient's breath when they have a particular medical condition. For example, people who have asthma have a higher concentration of nitric oxide in their breath. Gouma then built the flu device using nitric acid and ammonia sensors to pick up on the virus.

Gouma eventually sees devices like this being able to test for other diseases and medical conditions -- like Ebola. "I think that technology like this is going to revolutionize personalized diagnostics," she explained. "This will allow people to be proactive and catch illnesses early, and the technology can easily be used to detect other diseases, such as Ebola virus disease, simply by changing the sensors."

Samsung Partners with AppliedVR to Offer Pain Management Alternatives

Everyone is talking about virtual reality these days, and its applications for the 50+ market are vast. Samsung, along with partner AppliedVR, are leading the way in finding ways to use the VR headsets in clinical settings. Their timing to enter into the pain management market couldn't be better, as bipartisan efforts across the country seek to curb opioid prescriptions for pain--and the addiction that too often follows.

Los Angeles-based startup AppliedVR has developed a platform with a library of interactive games and relaxing landscapes to draw users attention away from their pain, reducing dependence on pain medications with Samsung’s virtual reality hardware Gear VR.

Early results from clinical trials using VR to treat pain are promising.

Together, Samsung and AppliedVR are working with a group of hospitals to validate the technology for children and adults. In one randomized controlled trial, the two have collaborated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to evaluate the clinical utility of VR for inpatient pain management and its effect on narcotic use, length of stay, and patient satisfaction.

Dr. David Rhew, who is Samsung’s chief medical officer and head of healthcare and fitness, noted that virtual reality is commanding respect for its ability to relieve patients’ stress, anxiety, and pain before and after a procedure.

“Clinical findings from Cedars-Sinai and AppliedVR have shown that VR results in a 25 percent reduction in pain, in many cases obviating the need for narcotics, and a 60 percent reduction in stress and anxiety,” he said in a phone interview.

AppliedVR is ahead of the curve in adapting the technology for a clinical setting, but it was not without its difficulties.

The challenge of designing a product for clinical settings is that the company had to consider many more factors for how the company’s technology could be integrated into and optimized for clinical workflows, Josh Sackman, AppliedVR president, observed in a phone interview.

“You have to think way beyond product development,” Sackman said. Patient profiles, sanitary issues — how can the company resolve this to satisfy epidemiologists? All of these issues come into play.

“The biggest differentiator is the standard of care and getting patients to accept something new, Sackman added.

This search for alternatives to medication has attracted a diverse array of partners, including Children’s Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers.

At Buena Vista Ambulatory Surgery Center, a child scheduled for the removal of a tumor from his hand put on the [AppliedVR] headset instead of the usual pre-surgery dose of Versed to reduce anxiety and cause drowsiness. It entertained him and negated the need for the drug, which has side effects that can persist throughout the day.

Although pediatrics is a significant area of interest, underscored by partnerships with Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, AppliedVR is working for adult patient applications as well.

At Cedars-Sinai, a woman suffering debilitating abdominal pain from an undiagnosed gastrointestinal malady has not had much relief despite pain meds. Using Applied VR’s tech took her mind off of her pain and improved the patient’s physical state and mood, according to one use case, although it didn’t help the patient’s chronic condition.

Samsung’s involvement, says AppliedVR’s President, is crucial. And pain management is only the beginning.

“It really does take a village to make something like this work. That is why Samsung is so important to us,” Sackman said. “Samsung is one of the only companies in VR to have a chief medical officer.”

Rhew said he’s excited by the potential of VR beyond alleviating anxiety and pain. There are also applications for training and extending the full potential of reading and interpreting medical images to give clinicians views, angles and information they need to make more informed treatment decisions.

But, potential aside, clinical validation holds the key to the success and adoption of VR.

“Samsung is exploring pilots with other hospitals and healthcare organizations,” Rhew said.” Our hope is that as we continue to validate the clinical utility for VR and the 360-degree VR camera, we will see greater adoption of this technology and improved outcomes.”

 

Companion Robots, Wearables, and that Smart Hairbrush: Newsworthy Health Tech from CES 2017

CES 2017 ended yesterday, which means the lists of "coolest gadgets" are popping up from scores of news sources.  We've compiled a guide to the lists of health tech products and news you should be reading:

  1. Yahoo! Tech's list of companion robots: these four knee-high bots hold a lot of promise to become helpful additions to households in everything from reminding older adults that it's time to take their medication, to reading books to kids.
  2. MobiHealthNews put together a comprehensive round-up of 31 digital health tools from fitness trackers to sleep aids to smart utensils that remain steady despite hand tremors caused by Parkinson's or other conditions.
  3. Wareable reports on the best wearables coming out of CES 2017- the newest smartwatches, VR technology, and a stick-on tracker for pregnant bellies.
  4. MobiHealthNews also reported on product updates and company news revealed at CES 2017: Fitbit announced several partnerships and integrations, Samsung revealed the launch of an investment arm, data from a large sleep study was released, and more.
  5. Mashable gives us the coolest gadgets coming out of the huge consumer tech show including, of course, the hairbrush.

 

CloudWell Labs Develops Home Vitals Monitor for Consumers

A company in Orlando, Florida has developed a device that will allow users to check their vitals at home.  CloudWell Labs' founders will be heading to the StartUp Health Festival next week to seek funding for their device, called LUMI:

The goal is to sell to consumers, while also landing deals with hospitals or medical device retailers and distributors.

“We feel our technology will make healthcare more accessible and convenient for everyone,” said Glenn Hansen, the company’s chief technology officer, in a news release. “Our device will bridge the gap between patient and provider during [telemedicine] visits.”

At this point the company is being guarded in how much they will reveal about LUMI:

He would not share many details about the device, which he said should be released sometime this year. Instead, he pointed to the company’s website where a picture of the device appears on the landing page.

That picture appears to show a device that can measure several vital stats, including heart rate, heartbeat, temperature or  be used as an otoscope.

The data collected by the device can then be stored on the device or shared with a doctor live.

Hansen and CEO Nick Parker were inspired to create LUMI after both of their families dealt with ear infections and strep throat in their children.  Parker says they want to, "eliminate the pain that families and parents feel on a regular basis, " in dealing with chronic health issues that require frequent visits to the doctor's office.