Six mobile health startups from the first White House demo day

By Jonah Comstock
11:19 am

Cocoon CamAs his time in office draws to a close, President Obama secured his reputation as our first geek president by hosting a tech startup demo day in the White House last week. Although the primary purpose of the demo day was to showcase diversity in tech entrepreneurship, a number of mobile health and wellness-focused companies filled out the ranks of Obama's invited startups.

Here's a round-up of the mobile health entrepreneurs that showed off their companies at the White House last week.

Open Health Network -- Founded by Los Altos, California residents Tatyana Kanzaveli & Maksim Tsvetovat, Open Health Network is a "smart mobile health platform that helps healthcare organizations, researchers, and patient advocate groups create cutting-edge mobile applications that run on any device and in any language in a day without coding". The platform lets users create patient surveys and apps that integrate easily with wearable devices and social networks.

Privail -- Privail co-founders Christopher Ategeka and Anwaar Al-Zireeni are commercializing a low-cost HIV testing device developed by Al-Zireeni. The White House describes the technology as "a portable, easy to use testing device that can directly detect HIV virus in the bloodstream faster than antibody or antigen based tests, and for a fraction of the cost of traditional RNA detection techniques." Ategeka, who was born in Uganda and lost both his parents to AIDS, was featured in Forbes' 30 under 30 in 2014.

Wearless Tech -- Cocoon Cam, the first product being developed by Wearless Tech, is a baby monitor that's also a digital health device. Using computer vision and data analytics, the device can track a baby's heart rate, respiration, and skin temperature from a distance using only a camera. Parents can review the data (and stream video of the baby) to their smartphones. Wearless is based in San Francisco and was founded by Rubi Sanchez, Sivakumar Nattamai, and Pavan Kumar.

Emerald -- Developed by Dina Katabi, an MIT professor and recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, and two of her students, Emerald is designed to monitor seniors at home and help predict and prevent falls. "Using high-precision radio sensors and data analytics, Emerald can detect breathing, heart rate, and changes in gait with such detail that it may soon be able to predict declines in health and increased risk of falling in advance," the White House wrote in a statement.

Sparo Labs -- St. Louis, Missouri-based Sparo Labs is developing Wing, an app and connected spirometer for measuring lung function and helping patients track and manage their asthma. As of 2013, cofounders Andrew Brimer and Abby Cohens' alma mater Washington University reported that the startup's seed round was entirely funded through competition winnings, which totaled $275,000 at the time.

Sproutel -- At the demo day, Providence, Rhode Island-based Sproutel founders Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung showed off Jerry the bear, a smart stuffed animal who helps kids build and maintain healthy habits. Jerry combines "educational storytelling apps and a playful, robotic physical companion" to help kids learn nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness. The company is also working on modules that will customize the bear to help children with specific chronic illnesses, like Type 1 diabetes, asthma, and food allergies. Jerry is due to launch in September.

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