The first three months of 2014 have proven to be eventful. Among arguably much more important events, Apple hired a whole lot of medical sensor experts for some unknown reason – most suspect for the rumored iWatch. More NBA players started wearing health tracking devices. The Google Flu Trends debacle got some scholarly attention. Disney helped launch a tooth brushing app for kids. Facebook bought a virtual reality company for $2 billion that it might use for remote doctor visits someday. And a company called HealBe said it had developed a device to passively track caloric intake.
Apple’s rumored digital health debut looms as others step up
The increasing number of digital health hires made by Apple fueled rumors about an iWatch and a rumored all-in-one health tracking app that Apple is reportedly working on, called Healthbook. Meanwhile, Samsung has started embedding heart rate sensors directly into their newest smartphones. And after a quiet meeting with the FDA became big news, Google announced that its moonshot lab is working on contact lenses that it hopes will be able to noninvasively monitor glucose. In the past three months Sony, LG, Virgin, and Epson also all announced activity tracking devices. At the same time passive activity tracking via smartphone apps has trended up thanks in part to the addition of the M7 chipset to Apple’s latest generation of mobile devices.
Mergers and acquisitions stay strong in digital health
During the first quarter of 2014 MobiHealthNews tracked eight acquisitions for digital health companies – almost none of which disclosed the financial details.
UnitedHealth division Optum acquires a majority stake in Audax Health Solutions. The deal “included cash, options, preferred stock, and significant working capital,” according to the companies. The near-acquisition will not affect Audax’s existing relationships with customers, including Cigna, whose CIO Mark Boxer sits on Audax’s board.
Intel confirmed rumors that it had bought Basis Science. Basis Science, the activity tracker company that makes the high-end Basis B1 Band, got snapped up by Intel for between $100 million and $150 million, according to press reports. Earlier this year Basis was reportedly soliciting Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft for a buyout at a price point below $100 million. Notably, Intel Capital became a Basis investor last October and joined the company’s board at that time. Other Basis investors included Norwest Venture Capital Partners, DCM, and Mayfield Fund. The startup raised just over $30 million in total.
AirStrip buys assets of Sense4Baby. San Antonio, Texas-based mobile healthcare company AirStrip acquired the assets of wireless monitoring startup Sense4Baby and licensed the associated technology that the startup was founded on from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction. Sense4Baby raised $4 million from the West Health Investment Fund in early 2013. The FDA-cleared Sense4Baby offering is a packaged kit that includes the wearable monitoring device and either a dedicated smartphone or tablet with pre-loaded Sense4Baby software. The company also offers providers a web-based portal that allows them to view or review all that data entered through the mobile app as well as the monitoring data. The offering is currently FDA-cleared for use by providers to conduct non-stress tests on high-risk pregnancy patients in clinical settings. AirStrip said it plans to roll out Sense4Baby to providers as planned, but it also aims to develop a version of the offering that patients can use at home. Keep reading>>