Sano raises $10M for wellness-focused, noninvasive blood glucose tracking wearable

By Aditi Pai
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Ashwin Pushpala, Founder, Sano Intelligence Ashwin Pushpala, Founder, Sano Intelligence

San Francisco-based Sano Intelligence, which is quietly developing a health-sensing wearable, has raised $10.25 million in funding from True Ventures and Intel Capital with participation from First Round, Felicis Ventures, Elevation Capital, Floodgate, and Rock Health, according to TechCrunch.

Sano took part in an early Rock Health accelerator program, which launched in December 2011. At the time the company said they were creating a mobile sensor that continuously monitors metabolic panel data and transmits it to patients, providers, and the chronically ill. The company's plans haven't changed substantially in the meanwhile, Sano is developing a biometric-sensing wearable that, among other things, noninvasively tracks blood glucose to "will help people understand what’s happening inside their bodies through continuously monitoring important markers in their bodies’ chemistry".

Sano founder Ashwin Pushpala told TechCrunch the the company's first product, which he says non invasively monitors blood glucose, will launch early next year. This product will be sold directly to consumers and will not be billed as a device intended to help people manage their diabetes. 

“We’ll figure it out as we have people using the product, but if we have a large enough dataset it potentially could be used as a predict measure," Pushpala said. "You walk into Chipotle and see what’s on the menu, and you can look at how other people of your body type responded to those types of foods before you even make a decision."

The company's team includes alums from Apple, Google, Samsung, and Fitbit.

Sano doesn't explain what form factor the device will take, but past attempts at developing non-invasive glucose monitors have been contact lenses and wristworn wearables. The first group has largely been more medically-driven, while the latter have been focused, like Sano, on blood glucose as a helpful biometric for wellness reasons.

At least two contact lens projects are currently underway. One such initiative is underway at Google, which partnered with Novartis to continue development the contact lenses. And another is a startup called Madella Health, which was founded by a Thiel Fellow. Both organizations are focusing on designing these offerings specifically for people with diabetes.

Last year, two companies, Airo and Healbe, unveiled wristworn wearable devices that track the user's metabolic activity, and, similar to Sano, the devices were designed for wellness. The companies landed in hot water shortly after announcing their passive nutrition-tracking wearables. Airo, which started taking preorders for its device in October 2013, informed its early backers a month later that it would refund their money after reports came out that the device may not deliver on its promises. The company added that it would not put the device back up for sale until it was tested and validated further.

Though Healbe had a successful round of preorders on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $1,081,445, well over its $100,000 goal, critics also questions its device’s capabilities and according to a report that Pando Daily published at the time, the company no longer claims its device can passively track calories.

Sano has big name backers, as well as relatively deep pockets, compared to last year's crowdfunding competition. It may be the first real attempt to bring to market a device that makes tracking nutrition -- almost -- as easy as tracking a step.