Samsung leads EarlySense's $20M round, plans to bring contactless bed sensor to consumers

By Jonah Comstock
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chairEarlySense, an Israeli company which makes a passive and contactless bedside monitor that continuously measures respiration rate, heart rate, and motion, has raised $20 million, with $10 million constituting a strategic investment from Samsung. Welch Allyn, which licenses EarlySense's sensor, also contributed, as did other existing investors Pitango Venture Capital, JK&B, Proseed and Noaber.

"We developed technology that monitors patients in hospitals and longterm care institutions and helps keep the patients safer, keeps them at the hospital shorter, reduces cost of care and increases safety and efficiency of care," CEO Avner Halperin told MobiHealthNews. "We want to respond to increased demand in the market and increase our presence in this field. We’re raising funding for that purpose, and the second purpose is taking our technology and bringing it into the exciting world of digital health and wellness in the home and doing that through major partners. One of these obviously will be Samsung, who’s also investing in this round."

As we reported in our CES news roundup, Samsung consumer products CEO BK Yoon talked up EarlySense from the stage at his CES keynote, citing it as an example of a product Samsung wants to move from the clinical space into the consumer space.

“It’s originally a medical device used in hospitals to protect heart patients,” he said at the time. “It keeps them out of intensive care and gets them out of the hospital early. Now imagine meshing such a device with consumer electronics. This sensor is about the size of my hand. Put under my mattress, it checks how I sleep and my vital functions. It monitors my health trends and shows them on my smartphone. Another clever little feature: It senses the best time for me to wake up based on my sleep pattern, and I don’t have to change my habits or lifestyle. It just works.”

Halperin said that EarlySense wants to be a back-end sensor maker, rather than producing its own direct-to-consumer device. Samsung is one partner in that endeavor, but not necessarily the only one.  He said that while the hospital solution is priced in the range of thousands of dollars per bed, the consumer versions will likely be in the hundreds instead. EarlySense already licenses technology to Welch Allyn, so it's not a new business model for the company.

"So today, [Welch Allyn's] CVSM monitor actually has the option to include an EarlySense sensor as part of that monitor for every device that they sell today," Halperin said. "And of course, that’s a very valuable proposition and opportunity both for us, for Welch Allyn, and for the hospitals that are using that technology."

This investment brings EarlySense's total funding to at least $48 million. The company also made news earlier this year with two new FDA clearances, one for an updated version of its bed sensor and another for a chair sensor.

"We see a huge value in our technology in the home consumer space or digital health space," Halperin said. "This technology that was invented and proven in the toughest environment of the hospitals and home care institutions, now we’ve proven that that same capability can be brought into the home. And the fact that this is completely contactless, the person has no need to change anything in their lifestyle is a very attractive proposition for empowering multiple applications in terms of smart appliances, improving your sleep, allowing people to age in the home in a safe, convenient, and dignified way, keeping an eye on children.  And all that in a collected analysis, allowing you to improve and have your home respond to how you’re doing."