Health tech startup iBeat launched the pre-ordering phase of its heart-monitoring watch on Indiegogo, giving the company time to build out a commercial market and establish the device, iBeat Life Monitor, as a tool for preventing sudden death from cardiac arrest or stroke.
Backed by Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the “Dr. Oz Show,” and founded by former Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard, the iBeat Life Monitor aims to build upon previous technologies like Life Alert to provide a 24/7 dispatch team in the event of a major cardiac event. The watch continuously monitors heart rate and oxygen uptake, and if the wearer’s metrics go outside a healthy parameter, it contacts the wearer, asking if they are ok. If they have the capacity to respond “no” by pushing a button, or if the wearer cannot respond at all, the dispatch team then notifies emergency responders as well as family and friends.
“Sudden death doesn’t sneak up on you; it smacks you in the face,” said Oz during a press conference for the launch. “The survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is 5 percent. People can’t respond fast enough. This technology will help us protect people from that.”
Oz, who has signed on as a special advisor to iBeat and also invested a six-figure amount in the company, said he was drawn into the product because it offered something others were not, namely technology that is continuously monitoring function rather than a button people press in the event of a major event.
“What attracted me was, people who have sudden cardiac arrest don’t have the ability to even push a button. They just go down. So this is different in that it’s a step up from what’s currently out there,” said Oz.
The device launched on Indiegogo for $99 with a 12-month free monitoring service, but after that, it will cost $200 per year. It is battery-powered, cellular-enabled and has built-in GPS, to make it easier for less tech-savvy consumers to immediately start using it, and it does not require a smartphone app.
Howard, iBeat's CEO, explained that the company is looking to offer more in the future. Currently, it only passively monitors biometrics and notices when heart function drops of dramatically, or stops. Since patient data is continuously stored and aggregated, iBeat hopes to soon have the ability to offer predictive analytics, knowing in advance when a heart attack or stroke is coming and alerting all necessary parties as quickly as possible.
“We want to get to the point where we can see the early parameters leading up to a heart attack or stroke moments or hours before,” Howard said.
To enable that potential service, Howard told MobiHealthNews the company will be looking into FDA clearance in the next year.
“Right now, we’re not at a place where we are saying, ‘you are going through cardiac arrest,’ but alerting people and staying with you as a dispatch once you go outside healthy parameters,” he said.
Oz, who is a heart surgeon, also said this version of the iBeat Life Monitor is a precursor for more to come.
“We lose a million people a year to sudden death, but, of course the numbers don’t describe the pain of folks dying in front of loved ones or by themselves, which is how it often happens,” he said. “We’re optimistic we can move the needle on that, and this watch will become the tip of iceberg in this endeavor because there are a lot of things that can come from it.”