Lumo to crowdfund Lift, a smaller, more wearable posture tracker

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 7, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | |  |

Lumo LiftPalo Alto, California-based Lumo Body Tech, makers of the Lumoback posture and activity tracking device, announced plans this week to crowdfund its next generation wearable, Lumo Lift. Lift is considerably smaller than its predecessor, and instead of taking the form factor of a belt, the new device uses a magnetic clasp to clip to the wearer’s clothing.

“We learned that many of our existing customers wanted a smaller form factor and one that gave them the option of a hidden [device] or even a near invisible one. The other feedback we got was that many of them wanted to focus on upper body slouching,” Lumo’s CEO Monisha Perkash told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “So Lumo Lift was built with those two desired goals in mind: something that is small and can be discreetly worn and something that is more sensitive at picking up upper body slouching.”

Lumo Lift, which is meant to be clipped to clothing on the wearer’s upper body, will cost between $59 and $79 during the crowdfunding campaign and more than that at retail. The company aims to begin shipping the device by the summer. Lumoback, which the company plans to continue selling at its $149 pricepoint is the pricier of the two devices, and is worn close to the hips with a belt-like strap.

“Different people have different reasons for wanting to improve their posture,” Perkash said. “For some it is lower back pain or neck pain, for others it is appearance and confidence. A third bucket is focused on training and physical fitness.”

Lumo Lift will appeal especially to those concentrated on improving their appearance and their self-confidence, Perkash said. Some studies show that better posture can improve confidence, she said.

“Research out of Harvard Business School shows — and we have done our own white paper compiling this — how holding yourself in an open, upright position cause surges of hormones that not only make you look more powerful, but make you feel it, too,” Perkash said.

Lumo Lift ColorsThe original Lumoback, which the company also crowdfunded was a peel-and-stick sensor that wearers stuck to their lower backs.

“The reason we decided to start with Lumoback and designed for the lower back was we knew we wanted to have a single sensor solution,” Perkash said. “In talking to spine experts — spine physicians and physical therapists — we tried to understand what was the most important thing that a person could do to have proper posture. What we learned was having a neutral pelvis serves as a very strong foundation for the rest of your spine. In other words, the rest of your spine is more likely to stack naturally on itself. That’s why we started with the lower back so we could be more in tune with what was happening in the pelvis area.”

Perkash said potential users said they liked the concept of a peel-and-stick sensor but it turned out to be a problem for many. The band-aid-like patch attracts lint, gets “gooey”, and one other reason:  Keep reading>>


GymPact rebrands as Pact, raises $1.5M

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 6, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | | |  |

my-pact-iphoneFitness incentivizing app GymPact has rebranded, changing its name to Pact and raised $1.5 million in a round led by Khosla Ventures and PayPal alum Max Levchin. This brings their total funding to $2.5 million.

Until now, Pact has offered users money only for exercising more, just so long as these users pay $5 if they don’t make their goals. The money that users must pay for missing their goals is given as rewards to those who make their goals. The app tracks a user’s progress and then pays users who stick to their goals, while debiting those who don’t. Users are, on average, awarded 30 to 50 cents for each activity completed, according to the press release.

Starting this year, the company launched two new pacts for the user to join: the veggie pact and the food logging pact. To participate in the veggie pact, users must take a picture of their meal and have it verified by the Pact community, and the food logging pact just requires users to track their meals (via MyFitnessPal) which the company says is a proven way to reach weight loss goals.

CEO and Cofounder Yifan Zhang told TechCrunch that Pact has been beta testing its two new features for three months and believes the new features are just as effective at helping people consistently eat healthier as they are at getting people to work out.

The app launched its iOS platform at the end of 2013 and added their Android platform in early 2013. Thus far, the community has logged 4.6 million workouts, 347 meals, and 20,000 fruits and vegetables. Pact boasts a 92 percent success rate of its users.

Pact integrates with FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Moves, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and Jawbone UP.

MyOwnMed raises $1.3M to capture between-visit patient health data

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 6, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | |  |

MyOwnMed iPhone appChevy Chase, Maryland-based startup MyOwnMed raised $1.3 million in funding this past December, according to an SEC filing from late last year.

The company, founded in mid-2013, is headed up by Founder and CEO Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, a former senior advisor of science innovation and policy to the FDA Commissioner’s Office who has also worked in non-profit medical research circles, academia, and as a director at NIH.

MyOwnMed pitches its offering as “a customizable digital platform and mobile health app that captures between-visit patient health data” that aims to better educate patients, support caregivers, aid physician decision-making, and provide payers and health systems with new analytical tools. The company believes that medical technology companies have not focused enough on user experience to date and that digital health tools for both patients and doctors remain “kludgy and difficult to use”, according to MyOwnMed’s website.

“At MyOwnMed, we believe a great user experience is critical to the long-term engagement of patients, but also understand that users in this context are very different and therefore their needs are different,” the site reads. “An 80-year-old arthritis sufferer taking care of himself doesn’t need half the functionality that a 55-year-old mom taking care of her daughter and her mother needs. A doctor needs different functionalities altogether. MyOwnMed serves each of these categories of users with a different set of tools, functionalities, and reporting capabilities consistent with their role in the health care system and in the individual’s care, each built to high standards for user experience.”

While its offerings have yet to launch, MyOwnMed promises a mobile app and web platform that include communication and collaboration tools for patients and caregivers. They will offer both real-time communication tools and asynchronous trackers. The company said such simple tools will, for example, “help detect how drugs interact in real time”.

MyOwnMed also plans to help its users form communities through it platform based on whichever topic or shared characteristic users choose to use as a focal point: demographics, disease states, location, etc. It will also host a question and answer feature to allow “users to ask and answer questions in a forum-styled way, allowing users to get quick advice without signing on for the full community features.”

“We will be able to generate actionable information from data provided by hundreds of thousands of users — data that will be visualized and shown back to users themselves to make them better patients; to family members who care for sick loved ones; and to doctors who need efficient ways to know where to focus their attention and better tools to recognize [patient reported outcome] patterns to provide better care,” the company writes. “Hospital systems and other large companies will be able to use the data to gain insights as to when and why their products and approaches do and don’t work. An advanced analysis engine allows you to dig deep into aggregate patient data to review potential cost-savings, learn about patient experiences, and gain a deeper understanding of consumer markets.”

Connected health market will reach $8B in 2018

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 6, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | |  |

CEAThe wellness products market generated around $3.3 billion in 2013 and will increase to more than $8 billion in 2018 through product sales and software and service revenues, which is a 142 percent growth, according to a new report by Consumer Electronics Association in conjunction with Parks Associates.

Device manufacturers sold more than 40 million wellness products in 2013, according to the report, and this figure will rise to more than 70 million by 2018.

“Current healthcare reform is driving demand for innovative products and services that people can manage themselves,” CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. “Consumer electronics companies are paying close attention to the rise of a young, dynamic market for connected health and wellness devices. As a result, these products allow healthcare providers to engage with their patients more effectively and help consumers better self-manage their own care needs.”

In a survey of just under 2,000 mobile phone users, CEA found 29 percent of users with health problems would try a device with easy usability to track their condition and progress towards their goals, and 27 percent of mobile phone users would prefer a personalized plan to help guide them through their journey to better health.

Another CEA study was published in late 2013 found consumer interest in purchasing a wearable fitness device rose to 13 percent in 2013 from 3 percent in 2012. The most prominent reason people chose to use a wearable fitness device, 52 percent of those surveyed, was helping with motivation. After that, 47 percent chose monitoring fitness goal progress, and 46 percent chose monitoring physical activity levels or intensity.

Of those that own a fitness device, 37 percent have pedometers, 26 percent have fitness video games and 21 percent have portable blood pressure monitors. CEA found no declines in consumer ownership of any tracked category of fitness technology products in 2013.

New products that consumers are planning to buy include dedicated wearable fitness devices, fitness apps, and fitness video games and calories trackers, which were all at 13 percent. New features that consumers are interested in include heart rate tracking at 95 percent, calories burned at 94 percent, and steps taken at 92 percent.

Smartwatches were just less popular than fitness apps, devices and video games, at 9 percent interest. The features within the smartwatches that users were most interested in were aimed at fitness, such as health monitoring (91 percent), peak performance monitoring (90 percent) and providing workout routines (82 percent).

Overall, CEA predicts that shipment revenues will reach $854 million by the end of 2013, an increase of 32 percent over last year, and revenue will surpass $1 billion in 2014, a 37 percent increase over 2013.

Smart sock maker Heapsylon taps shoe company for distribution deal

By: Aditi Pai | Jan 6, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | | | |  |

SensoriaSmartSockRedmond, Washington-based Heapsylon has partnered with shoe company Vivobarefoot to sell Heapsylon’s Sensoria Fitness sensor-enabled “smart” socks and to further develop the product.

The company says that all of the stores worldwide that currently carry Vivo’s product will soon have Sensoria products in them, too. According to Vivo’s website, there are nearly 500 such stores around the world.

The smart socks track a user’s steps, speed, calories, altitude and distance while running or walking through a combination of a sensor-laden sock, electronic anklet piece and an app available on iOS and Android platforms. On the companion app, which is connected to the sock via Bluetooth Smart, a user can see his or her cadence, foot landing technique and weight distribution, which the company hopes will help users identify if they have an injury-prone running style.

In the first step of the partnership, former Microsoft exec and Heapsylon CEO Davide Vigano told MobiHealthNews that his company will benefit from the expertise of Vivobarefoot’s biomechanics expert Lee Saxby to enhance and further develop the technology within Sensoria Fitness’ smart socks.

“The vision of the company is that the garment is the next computer,” Vigano said.

Vigano believes that putting this technology in socks could “eliminate the daily hunt for the glorified pedometer,” because socks are already something most people wear — and, for the most part, people know where to find their socks.

Sensoria Fitness finished an Indiegogo campaign in August after raising $115,882, almost $30,000 over their goal, and selling around 1,000 smart sock package. During the campaign the socks were available for $99, and now customers can pre-order them for $149. The socks will be available in Vivobarefoot stores beginning in April.

While Sensoria Fitness also offers two other products, a fitness bra and a fitness T-shirt, Vigano says the partnership will focus solely on the socks for now, and perhaps, down the line, embedding the sensors into shoes, although this is not a part of the first phase of Heapsylon and Vivobarefoot’s partnership. The fitness bra and T-shirt are both available for pre-orders for $59 and will ship on March 15th.

Last year, the University of Carolina Chapel Hill used the socks to test running form in a study which looked at four different kinds of running styles.

“Most people that go for a run have a perception of where they land on their foot that is different from reality,” Vigano said. “When they actually land on the heel of their foot which is a dangerous habit, perception of cadence is higher than it actually is, that’s also dangerous, if cadence is too low, you can hit the ground at higher forces.”

Vigano also mentioned that future partnerships may crop up from companies in the robotics and prosthetics field.

iRhythm’s Zio patch outshines Holter monitor in Scripps AF study

By: Jonah Comstock | Jan 3, 2014        

Tags: | | | | | | | | |  |

iRhythm Zio PatchA new study from the Scripps Translational Science Institute, published in the American Journal of Medicine, shows that iRhythm’s Zio patch, a wireless adhesive heart monitor patch, detects more arrhythmia events than a traditional Holter monitor and provides a better experience for patients.

The study of 146 patients with mild atrial fibrillation compared the two devices over the length of time they were designed to be worn — 24 hours for the Holter monitor, a mobile phone-sized device worn at the waist and connected to the patient via multiple lead wires and two weeks for the Zio patch, a smaller adhesive device worn on the patient’s chest. The Zio patch does not have any sort of connectivity — the readings are simply stored in the water-resistant device, which the patient mails to iRhythm at the end of the monitoring period.

“What I like about [the Zio patch] is you’re getting the person more in the wild, more in their natural state,” lead author Dr. Eric Topol told MobiHealthNews. “And you actually want to encourage patients to exercise with the band-aid on them. You’re getting almost a stress test. You can’t get that with a Holter.”

The Zio patches detected 96 arrhythmia events over two weeks of monitoring, whereas the Holter monitors detected 61. For the initial 24 hours when both monitors were worn, the Holter monitor detected 11 arrhythmias missed by the Zio patch, but the Zio patch picked them up over the remaining time. The study data suggests that the arrhythmia events missed by the patch were mostly due to algorithm errors which could be corrected in future versions of the patch.

Both doctors and patients preferred the Zio patch. Doctors who looked at data from both devices said they reached a definitive diagnosis 90 percent of the time when using the patch results and 64 percent of the time when using Holter monitor data. A survey of participants, meanwhile, found that 81 percent of them preferred wearing the patch over the Holter monitor, with 76 percent saying the Holter monitor affected their daily living activities.

“I’m thinking the Holter monitor has had a long course, since 1949, and it might be on the way out,” said Topol. “The Holter monitor is very obtrusive for patients. You really can’t have normal function for that period of time. You can’t take a shower, you can’t exercise. It’s not a very good device and moreover, you have to have the patient come to the hospital to get a formal hook-up procedure and disconnect and there’s a fee for that. It’s antiquated technology and the time has come to say ‘we can do better’.”

Topol said that even if additional studies show that devices like the Zio patch outclassing the Holter monitor, the switch over won’t be able to scale until doctors and patients are ensured of reimbursement for this kind of technology.

“These are really inexpensive to make,” he said. “The question is, can these be more palatable for patients, but also for a fraction of the cost we would attribute to a Holter monitor? […] It’s disruptive and challenging to the current reimbursement system. The current model is the Holter, and the question is ‘Can we come up with a whole new model?'”

Topol said Scripps is also in the process of using the Zio patch in another study, comparing results from the patch to genomic data in patients who have a high risk of atrial fibrillation or have had a stroke with an unknown cause. The FDA-cleared Zio patch has previously been used in a study by the California Health Care Foundation.