Researchers test the accuracy of fitness trackers, MPs call for regulation of social media, and more UK news briefs

Also: Prenetics acquires Soma Analytics, Open Bionics raises £4.6m in Series A funding round; ten projects are selected to receive a share of £3m to drive innovation in the NHS.
By Leontina Postelnicu
12:42 pm

Researchers test the accuracy of activity trackers. A BBC Wales programme saw researchers from the Aberystwyth University test the accuracy of the Fitbit Charge 2, Letscom HR and Letsfit activity trackers this week. Results showing the number of calories burned by 12 participants while walking and running on a treadmill were compared, and Dr Rhys Thatcher, from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, found that there was “considerable variation, with some of the devices over predicting and some under predicting” the numbers.

Fitbit told the BBC Wales X-Ray programme that they were “confident in the performance of their products, based on extensive scientific research”, while Letscom and Letsfit stressed that their trackers were not “scientific or medical devices”.


Ten projects using health data to foster innovation to receive a share of £3m. The UK’s national health data institute announced that ten projects would receive a share of £3m through UK Research and Innovation, using data and technology to accelerate innovation in the NHS and life sciences. This includes an initiative led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to combine NHS and research data to improve diagnosis of rare diseases, and a project coordinated by Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation to evaluate the impact of Google’s Streams app.

“These ten projects from across the UK, all led by clinicians working with researchers and industry partners, will demonstrate how the trustworthy use of health data and technology can improve patient pathways, make ground-breaking discoveries quicker and put the patient in charge,” said Professor Andrew Morris, Health Data Research UK director.


MPs call for regulation of social networks to help protect children’s health. The UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee said this week that social media companies should be “subject to a formal legal duty of care to their users” in a report on the impact of social media and screen-use on the health and emotional wellbeing of children. The MPs called for a “comprehensive framework” that would end the “loose patchwork of regulation and legislation” currently in place. Committee chair Norman Lamb said:

“Throughout our inquiry we have heard from a range of experts, including young people, about both the benefits of social media, as well as deep concerns about its potential risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of young people. It is frustrating that there is not yet a well-established body of research examining the effects of social media on younger users.”


Genetics and digital health company Prenetics acquires Soma Analytics. Hong Kong and London-headquartered genetics and digital health company Prenetics has acquired Soma Analytics, whose core product is the Kelaa Mental Resilience app for employees and businesses. The platform aims to improve the mental wellbeing of employees through real-time monitoring of known stress biomarkers. This is thought to be, after UK-based DNAFit, the second acquisition for Prenetics. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This move perfectly complements our existing genetics offerings, meaning we can provide corporates, enterprises and insurers a suite of solutions that give their staff the most personalised wellness programmes possible,” said Prenetics International CEO Avi Lasarow.


Bristol-based robotics company Open Bionics closes £4.6m Series A funding round. Open Bionics has set its sights on the US market after securing £4.6m in a Series A funding round led by the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, along with Ananda Impact Ventures and Downing Ventures, to drive and extend the manufacture of their 3D-printed bionic arms.

“This funding enables us to serve multiple international markets,” said Samantha Payne, co-founder and COO of Open Bionics. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to deliver bionic hands to amputees and people with limb differences in the USA.”


The latest news in digital health delivered daily to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing!
Error! Something went wrong!