At the Wearable Technologies conference in San Francisco this week, companies presented several devices they said were primed for widespread distribution across healthcare and fitness industries, but were also in search of additional investors as well as partnerships with payers and providers to make it happen.
Here’s a round-up of some of the devices that took the stage:
Perhaps the most ambitious device presented was from San Diego-based BioRibbon, which offers an adhesive patch that can be worn for seven days straight and offers continuous monitoring across 12 different families of biometric data, including caloric intake and output, respiration, hydration, activity and temperature. Intended to reduce hospital readmissions, BioRibbon works both with and without Bluetooth (the device has enough storage that it can be downloaded after the period it is worn), and it sends information to the cloud securely. The goal is for it to enable earlier diagnostic clarity for patients with chronic conditions like obesity by essentially watching every thing they do on a behavioral level.
“You can imagine what you could do with this in a variety of verticals,” said Darell Drinan, president and CEO of BioRibbon. “Especially now that we have legislation going through that will pay for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring…Now, these are business decisions, not clinical ones.”
While Drinan declined to name specific names, he alluded to BioRibbon's partnerships with large providers and payers as well as universities testing the device in clinical settings.
“There are a whole bunch of different things you can do with this platform and data,” said Drinan. “We’ll see it being publicly used later this year.”
“We’re talking about collecting the kind of data that can really only be achieved with a wearable, said Jared Dwarika, co-founder of Health Care Originals, which makes an asthma-monitoring device called Adamm.
The company first hopes to establish itself in pediatric asthma management. At the event Dwarika showcased the flexible, three-pointed patch with sensors that measure respiration patterns, heartbeat, cough rate and temperature. The device sends that data plus any story of action taken – medication, activity interruption, etc – to a smartphone. The information can then be shared with a doctor.
“It’s the relationship to respiration with other parameters that really sets Adamm apart from other devices on the market,” Dwarika said, going on to say that although the product could be used outside of healthcare settings, Health Care Originals wants to be the go-to in respiratory illness management.
Beijing-based Raiing Medical presented its fertility tracker, iFertracker, which is worn overnight, ostensibly capturing a more accurate picture of a woman’s fertility. The device, worn under the arm, collects 20,000 data points overnight and syncs with Bluetooth, then working with an algorithm to provide the “true” basal body temperature. The app interface displays the BBT over time and gives a visual reading of when temperatures spike, which is especially useful for women who have irregular lengths of days for each ovulation cycle.
The product launched last year and is available on Amazon, but Raiing is looking for partners in the retail and clinical market too.
Several niche fitness wearables are already established in professional sports or corporate wellness spaces, but are looking to expand to consumer use with strong marketing partnerships.
Joni Kettunen of Firstbeat, which makes a device that monitors heart rate, sleep and respiration, spoke of a roadblock in fitness wearables. The company works with several professional sports teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors, but the company is trying to make a leap from the model of amassing huge databases that require sophisticated analysis to initiate behavioral change to a scaled-down approach for everyday consumers.
“With all of this feedback and monitoring, we have to ask is it only for athletes?” Kettunen said.
Similarly, two hydration-and glucose-monitoring companies Halo and Graphwear are looking to make their products, which are currently for professional sports teams, available to every exercisers. Graphwear said it is beginning a beta test of its patch, which is worn on the back, that uses haptic feedback via the user's smartphone to remind them to hydrate.
Peel-and-stick wearables aside, Adam Robertson of Jabra demonstrated smart headphones that he said show “what happens when all of these different aspects come together and are actually turned into a consumer product.”
The company is trying to take its “hearable wearable” product called Sport Pulse mainstream. The headphones are powered by Valencell's technology, and they measure temperature, cadence, heart rate and other indicators while synching to music, displaying metrics on the smartphone, and providing notifications in the user’s ear.
“We’re looking to the future, and everyone is talking about augmented reality, but that’s difficult and expensive,” said Robertson. “Audio is cheap and everyone is already using it.”