Swiss startup launches, aims to commercialize blood pressure bracelet

By Laura Lovett
08:00 am

In the past checking your blood pressure generally meant a trip to the doctor's office—or at least a pharmacy. But that could be changing. 

This morning Neuchatel Switzerland-based startup aktiia launched with the goal of commercializing a continuous blood pressure monitoring bracelet. The technology has been years in the making. In fact, the new startup is a spinout of CSEM, a Swiss research and development center, where the tech first came into fruition. However, CSEM does not commercialize products prompting the creation of the newest startup. 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common condition in adults all over the world, according to Josep Sola, chief technology officer at aktiia. In fact, raised blood pressure impact 1.13 billion adults world wide, according to the World Health Organization. 

Sola said this technology is aimed at helping prevent an uptake in hypertension and to help monitor the condition. 

The technology combines common optical sensors and clinically validated software algorithms to measure an individual’s blood pressure, according to the company. It is made up of both hardware and software and includes three components: the monitoring bracelet, the app that appears on a user's phone, and a cloud-based server that will give physicians access to a patient’s data. 

Researchers at CSEM have been measuring blood pressure in new ways for years, according to Sola. But researchers saw new opportunities for the technology with the growth of smartwatches. 

“When we realized that there were all these smartwatches coming into the market," Sola told MobiHealthNews. "We have the know how to measure blood pressure from optical signals everywhere in the body. Let’s try our best to [create a wearables] for the wrist. That is when we started really developing these technologies.”

Because the monitoring is continuous it lets users see their blood pressure at all differnet times of the day and night.  

“We know that night monitoring of blood pressure is the most critical for hypertension and seeing damages from hypertension," Sola said. 

The plan is to get the product CE-certified and FDA cleared within the coming months and to get the product out to consumers by 2019, according to Sola. 

This isn’t the first tool to be developed as an alternative to the bulky blood pressure cuffs. In March researchers at Michigan State University announced that they developed a smartphone-based blood pressure monitoring system. The technology uses a 3D-printed phone case with a sensor, data acquisition and transmission circuitry and a power supply that links onto the back of the smartphone. 

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