Medtronic scoops up gesture-tracking startup Klue to bolster personalized closed loop system

The deal follows on the company's 2018 acquisition of AI nutrition app Nutrino.
By Jonah Comstock
11:33 am
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Dublin-based medical technology company Medtronic has acquired digital health startup Klue, a two-year-old startup which uses gesture sensing and other behavioral health metrics to determine when someone is eating. Nothing was disclosed about the terms of the deal, except that Medtronic considers it to be immaterial to 2020 earnings per share.

"Bringing Klue and their unique meal detection capabilities into our organization will accelerate our progress to help people with diabetes live with greater freedom and better health,” Alejandro Galindo, president of the Advanced Insulin Management division, which is part of the Diabetes Group at Medtronic, said in a statement. “Based on our learnings from a first-generation hybrid closed loop system around the importance of simplifying diabetes management, we believe the Personalized Closed Loop system will be transformational for diabetes management, and the integration of the Klue technology helps clears the path to a true hands-free closed loop system.”

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

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Medtronic is working on creating a robust, viable PCL, or personal closed loop system, for diabetes management. Also referred to as an artificial pancreas, a closed loop system is a long-time goal of diabetes management: a system that would use artificial intelligence to combine continuous glucose monitoring with an automated insulin pump, miminizing or even eliminating the active participation required of the patient.

Klue's gesture-sensing and associated analytics tech gives Medtronic another tool in its toolbox by allowing the system to detect eating behaviors and even speed of consumption. 

Medtronic won't limit its use of the new tech to its closed loop system though. The company says it's also looking for ways for Klue to help patients who use multiple daily injections to manage their diabetes.

THE LARGER TREND

MobiHealthNews covered Klue's launch at Health 2.0 back in 2017. We remarked at the time on the company's novel approach to a problem that has plagued self-trackers for a long time: how to do automated tracking of the "calories in" side of the weight equation, rather than merely the "calories out" side tracked by wearable fitness trackers.

"There’s an enormous amount of valuable information encoded in our hand gestures about our behaviors,” CEO and cofounder Katelijn Vleugels told MobiHealthNews at the time. “And today all those insights are basically untapped. So we developed an analytics technology that allows us to automatically, without any user intervention, detect and track behaviors, starting with eating and drinking.”

About a year ago, Klue moved into the diabetes space, using its technology in an Apple Watch app to remind people to do their insulin injections when it detects them eating.

On the Medtronic side, this is the second acquisition the company has made to bolster its PCL offering, which received Breakthrough designation from the FDA in February. The company acquired long-time partner Nutrino, an AI-powered personalized nutrition platform, in November 2018.

ON THE RECORD

“Klue’s truly unique early meal detection technology can help transform diabetes care,” Vleugels said in a statement. “Joining Medtronic creates a tremendous opportunity to advance diabetes therapies and, together, we will accelerate our shared mission to help people with diabetes live their happiest and healthiest lives.”

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