Basis previews its health dashboard at CES

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 9, 2012        

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basisAt CES this week Basis previewed its online portal, a dashboard for its upcoming Basis B1 band wrist-worn device. The dashboard displays the information collected by the device, including calories burned, steps taken, and hours slept, which it also rolls into a number of “points” for an overall index number (out of 100).

In a new demo video posted just before CES kicked off this week, Basis CEO Jef Holove explains that the device uses five different sensors to collect data about the user’s activity, environment, and how his body responds to those activities. The data is then uploaded to a cloud service where it is analyzed and “then told to me in everyday language — things that I could understand — about how to live better,” Holove said.

At the top of the dashboard are four big data points for calories burned, steps taken, hours slept, and overall points. Each of these includes a simple bar graph to show how close to the goal the user is at that time. Underneath those numbers is a bar graph of heart rate readings taken by the device throughout the day. Beneath that bar graph is a timeline of discreet events and activities that the device automatically detected — physical activity, sleep, etc. Those events include specific calories burned for that amount of time, too.

“Beyond those high level metrics, the system will be able to publish to you interesting insights about your day,” Holove says in the video.

While the device is obviously mobile, it’s not wireless. The data is uploaded to the cloud via the user’s computer — the B1 Band plugs into the user’s computer via USB. The company has promised future Bluetooth support.

The Basis B1 Band measures the wearer’s heart rate, temperature, and galvanic skin response via five embedded sensors. The company plans to allow third party developers to build apps that work with the device. It is expected to retail for $199 and become available sometime later this year.

Basis touts the device as comfortable and unobtrusive enough to be worn 24/7.

In an interview with MobiHealthNews last year, Holove said that most other heart rate tracking devices require chest straps, which are uncomfortable and cumbersome. Other fitness devices that may be more comfortable to wear offer a smaller subset of sensors than the array Basis has put together, he said. “We are [building] a much richer data set,” Holove told MobiHealthNews at the time.

Basis’ advisory board includes an executive at Facebook as well as the co-founders of RedOctane, co-creators of the Guitar Hero series. For six years Basis was known as PulseTracer, but the company changed names last year in anticipation of a commercial rollout. The company closed a $9 million first round of funding last March.

Read the press release below.

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Tinke, an iPhone dongle pulse oximetry device

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 9, 2012        

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TinkeSingapore-based Zensorium unveiled Tinke, an iPhone peripheral pulse oximeter device, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this week. Tinke is a compact device that measures blood oxygen levels, respiratory rate, and heart rate. It connects to iOS devices via the Apple device’s dock connector.

Zensorium told Forbes that the device will cost about $100 and should be available for iPhone users in about six months time. Versions compatible with other smartphones will follow shortly thereafter, a company rep told Forbes on-site at CES.

Here’s how it works: Users place a finger onto the dongle’s camera lens, which analyzes the blood vessels on their finger tip via infrared and light beams. A companion app developed by Zensorium then displays the user’s collected data within about 45 seconds. The user needs to keep their finger on the device for about that long without moving it. (Traditional pulse oximeter device clip on to a user’s fingertip to make this process a little easier.)

The Tinke app also provides an index score, called the Vita Index, every time a measurement is taken. Users can share their number, which maxes out at 99, with friends and family on a social network created specifically for the app. In addition, they can anonymously compare their Vita Index to other users in the same demographic.

“Mobile healthcare has steadily grown during the past two years and is at the stage where communication devices, pervasive sensing technologies, social networks and data analytics have arrived at a desired condition to realize a technological revolution,” Zensorium states on its website. “Tinke [is] a combination of conscientious design and technologies for you.”

While pulse ox devices are generally considered more appropriate for health care use cases, the Zensorium rep told Forbes that the company is targeting any and all health enthusiasts between the ages of 18 and 65 years old.

In January of last year, Nonin announced a wrist worn Bluetooth-enabled pulse oximeter that connected to smartphones. The device launched last October.

For more details, watch the Forbes demo of Tinke in this YouTube video.

BodyMedia to offer disposable health tracking patch

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 9, 2012        

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BodyMedia PatchAt CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, BodyMedia announced plans to offer a disposable, peel-and-stick, biometric patch developed in conjunction with medical device company Avery Dennison. The companies expect the device to be used in preliminary evaluations for weight management. (Notably, BodyMedia has an existing relationship with Jenny Craig, however, the weight loss program was not specifically mentioned in the most recent announcement.)

The patch, which is meant to be worn for up to seven days, makes use of BodyMedia’s array of sensors to track calorie burn, steps taken, activity levels, sleep patterns and more. BodyMedia says it collects more than 5,000 data points each minute. The wearable sensor leverages Avery’s proprietary Metria Wearable Sensor Technology, which is purports to be “skin-friendly”. BodyMedia’s other tracking devices are typically worn around the user’s upper arm. BodyMedia has been making such devices since 2001.

The new patch is meant to be worn on the back of the user’s left tricep, according to BodyMedia. The company expects the placement to provide “an inconspicuous solution similar to a large bandage with no wires required to transmit data.” Interestingly, competitor Basis seems to be taking an opposite approach. It wants its wrist worn health tracking device to be conspicuous as a symbol of wellness.

In the future, BodyMedia expects the patch to be used in corporate wellness programs, remote elder care and safety, and monitoring of vital signs for a variety of health conditions.

Avery’s Metria technology is based on the wearable sensor technology developed by Proteus Biomedical, which is, among other things, creating an intelligent medicine platform that can detect when a user ingests her medication. Proteus secured a patent for the technology last year. Proteus describes its technology as the “most wearable, sensor enabled and low cost sensor patch on the market”. (Updated: Originally this article incorrectly stated that Proteus licensed the technology from Avery — it is, in fact, the other way around as now stated above.)

More on the patch from BodyMedia in the press release below: Keep reading>>

Health apps already a bigger market than remote monitoring

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 6, 2012        

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iTriage, a popular medical app

iTriage, a popular medical app

According to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, in 2015 the market for mobile health applications will be about $100 million bigger than the market for remote patient monitoring. Frost estimates that mobile health apps will reach $392 million in 2015, while remote patient monitoring will hit $294.9 million. Frost estimates that mobile health apps earned revenues in 2010 of $230 million, a higher than expected total. Remote patient monitoring generated $126.8 million in revenues.

Despite this positive industry growth, the firm’s report predicts significant challenges ahead for those working on health apps, including regulatory issues, privacy and security concerns, and consumer awareness.

Frost & Sullivan’s remote monitoring report finds that the emergence of consumer-focused monitoring products, compared to traditional telemedicine, to be a major factor in the industry’s growth. According to the report, remote monitoring has had a double digit growth rate over the past decade, but hasn’t yet reached its “billion dollar potential”. Current business models have “limited potential” in the upcoming market, Frost states.

Other analyst firms have recently published similar findings that line up with Frost & Sullivan’s predictions. A report by ABI Research released last November predicted that the market for health and fitness apps will cross $400 million in 2016. ABI believes the rise of apps for connected wearable fitness devices will be a primary factor in the industry’s growth (it predicted 80 million such sensors by 2016). ABI also predicted that there will be more than 1 billion annual health-related app downloads by the year 2016.

recent report from Berg Insight found that approximately 2.2 million patients globally used a home-based remote monitoring device as of the end of 2011. However, the metric only accounts for devices that use fixed wireless, cellular, and fixed line connections; devices that connected via smartphones or PCs were not included in the statistic. In addition, the number of home health monitoring devices in use with embedded cellular connectivity increased from 420,000 in 2010 to about 570,000 in 2011, and is expected to hit 2.47 million in 2016.

“Today, we are seeing the tip of the iceberg in the U.S. mHealth market’s potential,” stated Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Zachary Bujnoch in a press release. “Despite the hype, mobile apps are the single-biggest digital channel since the ‘90s and the Web.”

”Over buildup and misrepresentation have made [the remote monitoring market] confusing and complicated,” added Bujnoch. “However, significant revenue and outcomes remain for those who can sift through fact and fiction.”

Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Merck to invest upwards of $17M in Skyscape

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 5, 2012        

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Tomorrow NetworksPhysicians Interactive, which offers the popular professional medical app Skyscape, announced this week that Merck will invest up to $17 million in the company via its Global Health Innovation Fund (GHIF). Initially, the financing includes $8.5 million, but depending on whether the company meets certain milestones, Merck’s GHIF could bump the investment up another $8.5 million for a total of $17 million.

The funds will be used to grow “four key products” as well as other initiatives. Among the company’s key products and initiatives is the Skyscape app itself and a recently launched mobile advertising network, Tomorrow Networks.

Skyscape is a mobile medical content publisher whose main app offering, Skyscape Medical Resources, is a clinical decision support tool similar to Epocrates. Physicians Interactive, a digital marketing firm that targets doctors and other health workers via a number of mobile and web-based services, bought Skyscape in 2009. It now accounts for about 90 percent of its Healthcare Professionals Division. (MobiHealthNews’ own Neil Versel spoke to Healthcare Professional Division president Brett Miller last year about Skyscape’s storied 12 year history in the mobile healthcare space).

Last year, the company partnered with Remedy Systems to launch a mobile advertising network, Tomorrow Networks, that serves ads specifically targeted to healthcare providers. The network is also testing health-related ads targeting consumers. The network places ads in smartphone medical apps — it launched with some 54 different apps already onboard.

“This investment will allow us to further expand our internal product development and customer solutions, as well as explore new markets and additional customer segments,” stated Donato Tramuto, CEO and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive Holdings, in a press release.

As part of the deal, Merck’s Global Health Innovation Fund will appoint one of its executives to join Physicians Interactive’s board.

Read the press release below. Keep reading>>

Telcare’s wireless glucometer to launch next week

By: Chris Gullo | Jan 5, 2012        

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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterWalt Mossberg, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, broke the news this morning that Telcare’s cellular-enabled blood glucose meter will become commercially available next week. (Assumedly timed to launch at CES, the big consumer tech event in Las Vegas.)

Mossberg, who has Type 2 diabetes, also gave the device an overall positive review with very few caveats.

Telcare BGM is a 3G-enabled blood glucose meter that wirelessly transmits glucose values using T-Mobile USA’s wireless network to an online clinical server. Clinicians can then view the data if that server connects up to their electronic medical records system. The data is also pulled into a smartphone app that can be accessed by the user or by caregivers. Telcare provides the example of parents of diabetes children, or adult children of older patients.

Coincidentally, Mossberg told attendees at the TEDMED conference in November 2010 that his traditional glucometer was a “piece of crap” because — among other things — it didn’t connect to smartphones, other mobile devices, or the Internet. Mossberg’s TEDMED speech did not mention any of the connected glucose meters that were already in development or commercially available at that time. In reaction to Mossberg’s TEDMED talk, MobiHealthNews pointed out Telcare’s offering (which was still in development) and Entra Health Systems’ MyGlucoHealth device as obvious oversights.

In his review, Mossberg includes Entra’s Bluetooth-enabled device as a Telcare competitor, along with Agamatrix’s iBGstar, which recently recieved FDA clearance .

Read on for a brief summary of Mossberg’s praise and criticism of the device: Keep reading>>