Boehringer Ingelheim, Propeller Health team up for sensor-enabled inhaler pilot

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 30, 2014        

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Propeller HealthBoehringer Ingelheim is a pretty familiar name to people who follow mobile health moves from pharma companies. The large, privately-owned German firm has been involved in pilots with game developer Ayogo, smart pill bottle maker AdhereTech, and now-defunct behavior change platform Healthrageous.

While its partners have talked up these pilots, up until now the company itself has been pretty quiet about its strategies in testing out innovative health technology.

At Health 2.0 last week in Santa Clara, California, Larry Brooks, the director of the New Business Model and Healthcare Innovation group at Boehringer Ingelheim took the stage with Propeller Health CEO David Van Sickle to talk about a newly announced pilot of Propeller’s technology.

“About three years ago, the company said patients, especially those with high risk diseases, shouldn’t be treated with just medications,” Brooks said. “They should be treated more comprehensively. So we started the New Business Model and Healthcare Innovation group, positioned within our business development and licensing, because just as we have folks looking for new molecular markers, we really wanted to find technology that we thought was going to shape the broader healthcare delivery and financing system and have an impact on Boehringer and our prescription medication. So it continues to be a learn-by-doing type of group that continuously is signing customer-based agreements to validate whether there’s a particular technology we should be looking for, even if it’s in the longer two to five year range, and not necessarily in the short term.” Keep reading>>


Netpulse raises $18.6M to integrate fitness apps, devices with gym equipment

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 30, 2014        

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Netpulse appSan Francisco-based Netpulse, which offers software to fitness clubs that connects fitness devices and apps to gym equipment, has raised $18.6 million in a new round of funding led by Nokia Growth Partners and with participation from August Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, DFJ Frontier and Docomo Capital. Nokia Growth Partners’ John Gardner will join the Netpulse board as part of the deal.

In a statement the company said it plans to use the funds for new integrations and to further build out its product platform.

At the end of July 2012, Netpulse announced $15.6 million in funding led by August Capital with contributions from Javelin Venture Partners, DFJ Frontier, and Parkview Ventures. The company has raised a total of just under $40 million in funding to date.

Netpulse has partnered with eight of the top nine commercial manufacturers, which make up 83 percent of the fitness equipment currently installed at fitness clubs. Netpulse’s software is in thousands of clubs in more than 30 countries, including Equinox, Crunch Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Retro Fitness, university gyms, corporate fitness centers and YMCAs.

“Netpulse technology has created an opportunity for clubs to engage with their members in ways previously not possible,” Bryan Arp, Co-Founder and CEO of Netpulse said in a statement. “Our platform provides club operators with a turnkey solution to participate in the industry’s digital transformation. Clubs are now able to provide new services to increase engagement and generate new sources of revenue by reaching the members via mobile and connected products.”

NetPulse’s platform, called NetPulseOne, is integrated with several apps and fitness trackers, including devices from Fitbit, the MapMyFitness platform, and the MyFitnessPal platform. NetPulse also was integrated with Aetna’s CarePass before the health insurance company shut it down. Netpulse, through its acquisition of Virtual Active, previously worked with Rock Health graduate BitGym on connecting virtual workout experiences to fitness equipment.

Bellabeat launches three connected devices for pregnant women

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 30, 2014        

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Bellabeat ShellMountain View, California-based Bellabeat has announced three new products for expecting mothers. The products include a redesigned smartphone-enabled fetal monitor, called Bellabeat Shell, an activity tracker, called Bellabeat Leaf, and a connected scale, called Bellabeat Balance.

All three new devices are meant to not only help a woman while she is pregnant, but also transition her into life as a new mother. They are all made partially of wood to give the devices a “nature” feel.

The company’s previous device, which pregnant women could use to listen to and record their babies’ heartbeat, will no longer be available. Bellabeat first launched that device after graduating from the Y Combinator accelerator in February 2014, and sold 35,000 devices.

“Now Bellabeat is launching a completely new line of products and the previous device will no longer be sold,” Bellabeat COO Morena Simatic told MobiHealthNews in an email. “We have completely changed the branding, the philosophy behind the brand and the design of the products. Although Bellabeat Shell is used for the same purpose as the previous Bellabeat device (detecting and listening to your baby’s heartbeat), it has many other relevant functionalities.”  Keep reading>>

23 health and wellness apps that connect to Apple’s HealthKit

By: Aditi Pai | Sep 30, 2014        

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HealthKitThis week several companies announced that their apps now integrate with Apple’s new Health app, which is preloaded on all new iOS devices and any Apple device that downloads the new iOS 8 operating system.

Apple’s HealthKit platform, which feeds health and wellness data from third party devices and apps into its consumer-facing app, called Health, had an initial rocky launch last week when the company said it would delay its launch because of a bug in iOS 8. Since then, the company has published a list in its AppStore featuring 16 “handpicked” apps that were recently updated to integrate with HealthKit.

Several other apps that weren’t included on Apple’s list have also announced HealthKit integrations. Here’s a list of 23 apps that integrate data with HealthKit.  Keep reading>>

Basis Peak adds smartwatch features but keeps fitness focus

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 30, 2014        

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Basis PeakBasis Science, the wearable company that was acquired in March by Intel’s new devices group, has unveiled a new wearable, the Basis Peak fitness and sleep tracker. The Peak device will replace the B1 and Carbon Steel devices, which will be supported but no longer sold starting November 5, when the Basis Peak goes on sale.

“Basis Peak … continues a lot of the same principles we had in the prior device in terms of multi-sensor approach toward informing our algorithms, the 24-7 monitoring but with some critical improvements,” Ethan Fassett, VP of product at Basis, told MobiHealthNews. “…We wanted to focus on this notion of being most advanced as well as being in a premium position in the market, which you’ll see in some of the materials used in the device: Forged aluminum body, really high-impact Gorilla Glass screen, as well as silicone straps, which are very soft and breathable.” Keep reading>>

The evolution of IBM’s Watson and where it’s taking healthcare

By: Jonah Comstock | Sep 29, 2014        

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watsonIBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing system originally designed to vanquish human competitors on Jeopardy in 2011, has been winding its way into more and more healthcare and health-related use cases. But like most novel technologies, a number of people still don’t understand exactly what Watson is or does — or what IBM’s roadmap for the technology is. On the sidelines of the Health 2.0 event in Santa Clara, California last week, MobiHealthNews sat down with John Wolpert, product manager for IBM’s Watson Ecosystem, to answer some of these questions.

What is Watson?

Watson isn’t a software program or a single algorithm or an actual physical supercomputer sitting in a room somewhere at IBM. When IBM researchers talk about “Watson,” they’re actually talking about a suite of computing capabilities that combine together to perform a function — taking large, unstructured data sets in the English language and pulling answers to queries out of that data. Oftentimes that function can be run from a desktop computer or a mobile device, but the computing power is located in the cloud, on IBM’s servers.

Cognitive computing like Watson does is often very computationally intensive and expensive, and one of the challenges IBM has face with Watson is scaling that level of computing.

“People don’t talk about it a lot, but I think every bit as exciting a story here is not just the algorithms, which are a lot of things known in machine learning, plus a lot of our secret sauce. But, at the end of the day, machine learning, cognitive computing, it’s fair to say that it’s more computationally intensive, and computationally expensive than older forms of popularity ranking, or other more basic forms of systems that are applied to knowledge,” Wolpert said. “So you have to have systems that are able to punch heavy enough, that are affordable and low power enough. That’s part of the big news — when you marry what we’ve got operating in the cloud, behind the API, with computers that are for the first time in history powerful enough to perform those kinds of services without just breaking the bank every time somebody runs a query.” Keep reading>>