With $1M raised, Florida noncontact monitoring company starts with pets

By Jonah Comstock
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TruVitalsGainesville, Florida-based TruVitals has received an undisclosed investment from the Florida Institute. However, the company has told MobiHealthNews that the funding, combined with angel investments and grants, will bring the company's total funding to a little under $1 million.

TruVitals is developing a non-contact heart rate, respiration, and motion sensor that uses radar technology. It will soon measure temperature as well. They'll use the funding -- and advisory support form the Institute's Innovation Hub -- to launch a business for monitoring dogs and cats post-surgery. Although the initial use cases will be for the veterinary medicine market, the creators hope to make a smooth transition into human patient care in the future.

"The device was designed for humans," Vice President of Business Development Matt Herbolich told MobiHealthNews. "The veterinary care market is a bridge to human healthcare. The idea would be we have a standalone business in the companion animal post-op space as well as a device for zoo animals such as lions and tigers, and that has the size and margins to be a standalone business. The idea would be to grow organically from that business and then bring it over to human healthcare, get through FDA and hopefully be in every hospital, and even in home healthcare."

Non-contact monitoring has benefits in a number of use cases where continuous monitoring is desired, but wearables are impractical. This includes monitoring of animals as well as monitoring sleeping patients and doing clinical trials on patients with dementia or other mental illnesses that could cause them to rip off sensors. The readings can be read on the device itself, which in the initial use case will be placed on a recovering animal's cage, or transmitted to the veterinarian's mobile device via Bluetooth. The connected app works as an alert system that will automatically ping the vet if the animal's readings fall out of an acceptable range.

"It’s a radar-based technology, so the same way the police would get someone speeding, it’s similar technology," Herbolich said. "Basically the radar measures the cardiopulmonary measures of a human or animal’s chest wall as it goes back and forth. And then through our patent-protected algorithms it's able to, through the air, compute that and give an accurate vital signs reading. It’s extremely accurate, and the radiation emitted is less then one-tenth or one one-hundredth of your cell phone."

Herbolich said the market strategy is first to sell a version of the system to veterinarians and pet owners for use with dogs and cats, which Herbolich anticipates launching in Q4 this year. Around the same time or a little later, the company will roll out a version for large zoo animals, a business he hopes will be profitable enough to fund the development, testing, and regulatory clearance of the human version.

There are not many companies working on non-contact monitoring right now, but one, Atlanta-based Sensiotec, is a few steps ahead of TruVitals. The company, which also uses radar for non-contact monitoring, has raised $7 million, secured FDA clearance, and is working on clinical trials in Atlanta.

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly checks out the Microsoft HoloLens aboard a space station on February 20, 2016. The device is part of NASA's project Sidekick, which is exploring the use of augmented reality to reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency with which astronauts can work in space. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)