CES Unveiled’s preview of health tech at CES 2018

CES Unveiled, Metropolitan Pavilion, NYC, Thursday 9 November

The Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) press preview of the gargantuan CES 9-12 January 2018 Las Vegas event was the first of several international preview ‘road shows’. It’s a benchmark of the ebb and flow of health tech and related trends on the grand scale. Gone are the flashy wearables which would change colors based on our sweat patterns and heart rate, or track the health and movement of pets. Now it’s the Big Issues of 5G, AI, machine learning, AR/VR, and smart cities. Entertainment, especially sports, are now being reinvented by all of these.

The developments this Editor gleaned from the mountain of information CEA plies us keyboard tappers that are most relevant to healthcare are:

  • Wireless 5G. As this Editor has written previously from Ericsson and Qualcomm, 5G and 5G New Radio will enable amazingly fast mobile speeds and hard-to-believe fast connectivity by 2019. It will enable IoT, self-driving cars, cars that communicate with each other, reconstruction of industrial plants, electric distribution, multimodal transport, and perhaps the largest of all, smart cities. The automation of everything is the new mantra. Accenture estimates the impact will be 3 million new jobs (nothing about loss), annual GDP increased by $500bn, and drive a $275bn investment from telecom operators.
  • AI.  Society will be impacted by machine learning, neural networks and narrow (e.g. calorie counting, diagnostics) versus general AI (simulation of human intelligence). This affects voice-activated assistants like Echo, Alexa, and Google Home (now owned by 12 percent of the population, CES survey) as well as robotics to ‘read’ us better. These conversations with context may move to relationships with not only these assistants but home robots such as from Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri (which this Editor attempted to interact with on the show floor, to little effect and disappointment). Oddly not mentioned were uses of AI in ADL and vital signs tracking interpreted for predictive health.
  • Biometrics. This will affect security first in items like padlocks (the new Bio-Key Touchlock) using fingerprint recognition and smart wallets, then facial recognition usable in a wide variety of situations such as workplaces, buildings, and smartphones. Imagine their use in items like key safes, phones, home locks, and waypoints inside the home for activity monitoring.
  • AR and VR. Power presence now puts viewers in the middle of a story that is hard to distinguish from reality. The pricing for viewers is dropping to the $200-400 range with Oculus Go and Rift. At the Connected Health Conference, this Editor saw how VR experiences could ease anxiety and disconnectedness in older people with mobility difficulties or dementia (OneCaringTeam‘s Aloha VR) or pain reduction (Cedars-Sinai tests). The other is Glass for those hands-on workers [TTA 24 July] and heads-up displays in retail.

CES is also hosting the fourth Extreme Tech Challenge. Of the ten semi-finalists showing down on 11 January, three are in healthcare: Neurotrack to assess and improve memory; Tissue Analytics that uses smartphone cameras to assess wounds and healing; and (drum roll) the winner of TTA’s Insanely Cute Factor competition, the Owlet smart sock for baby monitoring [TTA’s backfile here]. One of the judges is Sir Richard Branson, who will host the finalists on 28 February on Necker Island (which hopefully will be rebuilt by that time).

After the nearly two-hour briefing, CEA hosted a mini-show on the ground floor of the Metropolitan. (more…)

Seeing into 2017: Fitness trackers’ chill, clinical and specialized wearables warm up

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/crystal-ball.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The first in a series of brief projections for 2017. Fitness wearables aren’t even lukewarm anymore, and it’s visible in consolidation and the nay-saying articles. In late November, Fitbit bought one of the pioneers, Pebble, for a cut price of $40 million (TechCrunch). Fitbit shares are also cut price at below $7.50, whereas the 2015 IPO debuted at $50. Editor Charles’ favorite, Jawbone, is moribund; the springtime rumors of company sale and shutdown of the fitness band line have not been contradicted since [TTA 27 July]. Research/analytics company CB Insights calculated that 2015 wearable computing (a broader category) investment funding fell 63 percent from 2014 to a level comparable to 2012-13, in large part due to the cooling of the fitness segment.

A sure sign that fitness bands have chilled is negative play in the consumer press. ‘My fitness band has made me fat’, spun off the JAMA article [TTA 28 Sep], is now the theme of hilarious ‘dieters gone wild’ articles like this from the New York Post (warning, eye bleach photos!). But The Sun (UK) waves a warning flag that the information could be sold, sent to your employer or insurance company to profile and/or discriminate against you, or cyberhacked. All this can knock a pricey band off the Christmas shopping list. And no, it hasn’t shifted to smartwatches as most insiders predicted, as smartwatch sales have leveled off–as expected–until their functionality and appearance improve to justify their high price.

What’s in our crystal ball? Clinical-quality and specialized wearables will rise from these ashes.

  • Doctors are simply not interested in the current poor quality of data generated by current wearables–‘it’s worthless, Jim!’ ZDNet’s much-discussed article on this subject paradoxically stresses this, then focuses in on the clinical quality data generated by startup VivaLnk’s eSkin for temperature and stress. Clinical quality data is what is required for a health and wellness research partnership like the one recently announced by RTI and Validic.
  • Industry buzz is that Fitbit bought Pebble for its better IP, apps and stable of developers, not its smartwatch hardware, and that IP includes clinical quality measurement.  Other biosensor companies on the rise according to CB Insights are Thync, Thalmic Labs, YBrain and mCube.
  • In specialty wearables, there’s the recent funding success of Owlet, the High Cute Factor baby monitor sock. Lifebeam transfers multiple sensing technology to helmets and hats for richer data.

And if sensor patches develop with speed, in two to three years they may eliminate all of these!

Telemedicine’s ‘missing link’ found? American Well adds Tyto Care remote diagnostics. (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Mom_using_on_child_ear.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Telemedicine leader American Well and telehealth newcomer Tyto Care announced a new partnership that (finally) pairs up remote diagnostics to the virtual doctor visit. Patients (or parents) can use the Tyto Care device before or during the online visit to take guided exams of the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat, skin and temperature which is then shared with the doctor. The releases indicate that the American Well-Tyto Care combination will be introduced first to health systems and employers. The Tyto Care examination platform and clinical data are being integrated into American Well’s telehealth platform. Timing and pricing are not disclosed, but the retail price of Tyto Care’s home model is $299.  Tyto Care, American Well releases.

Tyto Care recently obtained FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for its digital stethoscope snap-on to the main device to monitor heart and lung sounds. [TTA 2 Nov] The all-in-one type device also includes attachments for a digital imaging otoscope for ear exams, a throat scope, a skin camera and thermometer swipe. A new and quite comprehensive demo video of Tyto Care on its own platform is viewable on YouTube, which includes how a doctor can review the information during a live video visit, or as a store-and-forward exam. Tyto Care is also introducing a professional version of its device and platform.

Tyto Care has also made it to the finals of The Best of Baby Tech (a/k/a The Bump) Awards, which include a new version of the awww-worthy Owlet smart sock baby monitor, the Edwin the Duck child learning tool, TempTraq’s continuous temperature monitor and the SNOO smart sleeper. They will be exhibited with 13 other finalists at CES 2017 in the Bump Pavilion at the Baby Tech Showcase 5-8 January, with winners in six categories on the 5th. #babytechces

Who’s raising what! Babies to pets!

Our takeoff on ace direct response guru Denny Hatch’s ‘Who’s Mailing What!’ has been slightly modified from ‘getting’ to ‘raising’–we do want to be proper ;-)

  • The first big raise happens to be an Editor favorite due to its high Cute Factor–the Owlet smart sock for monitoring your baby’s oxygen level and heart rate. This latest round is $15 million, bringing their funding to $25 million. Investors included Eclipse Ventures and Eniac Ventures, plus new investors Trilogy Equity Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, RTP-HC, Capital Integral and Broadway Angels. Owlet is now the commercialization partner on a $1.5 million grant from the NIH to further infant health research, in addition to an earlier equal grant. Plans include a connected care feature giving users access to their data and the ability to share that data with pediatricians, scheduled for a 2017 release; retail and international distribution; two new product lines and a large infant health study. Finsmes
  • Cohero Health closed a $9 million Series A financing for its BreatheSmart lung function platform, which actively engages respiratory patients by tracking medication adherence and measuring lung function. Funding was led by Three Leaf Ventures, an affiliate of the Broe Group, with participation from Zaffre Investments, the investment arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, BioAdvance, and new investors GIS Strategic Ventures, Heitkamp & Thumann Group, and P5 Health Ventures. A StartUp Health company, they develop care connected devices and mobile applications that measure lung function and tracking adherence through the BreatheSmart toolkit. Finsmes, Mobihealthnews
  • PlushCare, a California-based telemedicine (virtual visit) company, had an $8 million Series A raise funded through GGV Capital with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Exponent. Finsmes
  • And even pet health is getting funded. PetCoach, a Pennsylvania-based digital pet healthcare platform, secured $2m in seed funding from Comcast Ventures, in addition to earlier funding from DreamItVentures and Maveron. PetCoach provides an online pet care service combining personal advice and 24/7 access to certified pet professionals. Users can leverage the PetCoach website and the app in order to interact with certified veterinarians. Finsmes

Events last week beyond Brexit: London Technology Week, CE Week NYC

The world may have turned upside down (and around) with Brexit, but London Technology Week happened nevertheless. It’s exploded into 400 events and 43,000 attendees, with 300 attending an event at London City Hall on health tech within the NHS. (Attendees invited to contribute in Comments.) Designer Brooke Roberts, an ex-NHS radiographer who advocates the fusion of fashion and tech, debuted her brain scan-inspired knitwear, accomplished by translating scans into digital files capable of programming industrial knitting machines. According to GP Bullhound in their annual European Unicorns report, 18 of Europe’s 47 billion-dollar digital startups are now based in the UK. So who needs the EU?  TechCityNews, CNN, Yahoo Tech

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/MonBaby.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]On the other side of the Atlantic, there was a disappointing absence of wearables and health tech at the Consumer Electronics Association’s NYC summer event, CE Week. It’s been a major feature since 2009 at International CES in January; the NYC summer show and the November CES preview had always featured a mostly local exhibitor contingent and conference content. None this year–a representative cited a mystifying ‘change in direction’. There was one lone wearable way back in the exhibit hall–MonBaby, which came in from 16 blocks uptown. The snap-on button monitor works with any garment (unlike the Mimo onesie and the Owlet sock) (more…)

Unicorns to Series A–health tech funding gained in (perhaps) the nick of time

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/1107_unicorn_head_mask_inuse.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Money, money everywhere–unicorns get the headlines, but the companies are still (largely) small

Up until early August, this Editor would have assumed that our Readers would look at this funding roundup as a bracing windup to a largely positive eight months and a veritable Corvette Summer for healthcare technology funding. We may have to give back the keys a little sooner than we imagined. Will the dropping market affect digital health as 2008-9 did–‘out of gas’ for years? Or will it barely affect our motoring onward? Despite the Dow Jones average hitting an 18 month low today, we hope it’s closer to the latter than the former. though the new and big entrant to digital health investing is the country most affected, China.

Our roundup of the August Action includes ZocDoc, Fitbit, Alphabet, PillPack, Owlet and more, along with a few comments:

**ZocDoc, a NYC-based online medical care appointment service that matches patients with doctors by location and schedule, had the most sensational round with last week’s Series D funding of $130 million, giving it a valuation of $1.8 bn. It took over a year after the filing (June 2014) and was led by two foreign funds (London-based Atomico and Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford) with additional funding from Founders Fund, which previously participated in raises of $95 million.

Though it claims 60 percent coverage in the US  and ‘millions of users’ (numbers which have been quoted for some years), ZocDoc won’t disclose profitability nor volume–metrics that would be part of any IPO.

Direction? Points given for deciphering this windy statement (quoted from Mobihealthnews): (more…)

Short takes for a spring Friday: wounds, babies and ‘frequent fliers’

Starting off your spring weekend….WoundMatrix, which uses generally older model smartphones to take pictures of wounds which are uploaded either to their own or to a destination clinical platform, with proprietary software that helps a clinician analyze the wound remotely and then to track healing progress, has gone international with Honduras’s La Entrada Medical and Dental facility run by non-profit Serving at the Crossroads, and in Rwanda in the care of nearly 1000 patients by the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program, established by their Ministry of Health with the cooperation of several American universities. At ATA they also announced a new release of software. Release (PDF attached)….A BMJ (British Medical Journal) article critiquing the surge in what we call ‘telehealth for the bassinet set‘ scores the Mimo onesie (Rest Devices), the Owlet sock and the Sproutling band as taking advantage of concerned parents. It’s too much continuous monitoring of vital signs that can vary and yet be quite normal, and no published studies on benefit. A reviewer did find that Owlet is in clinical tests at Seattle Childrens and University of Arizona. MedPageToday (BMJ requires paid access)….A surprise from Philips, which we in the US associate with the Lifeline PERS. They have quietly moved into telehealth focusing on post-discharge programs that target the most costly patients, often dubbed ‘frequent fliers’ based on their frequent stays in hospital. The ‘Hospital to Home’ telehealth pilot with Banner Health in Arizona, dubbed for them the Intensive Ambulatory Care (IAC) program, focuses on the top 5 percent of complex patients which are the highest cost and most care intensive. IAC results among 135 patients over six months reduced hospitalizations by 45 percent, acute and long-term care costs decreased by 32 percent and overall cost of care by 27 percent. However, is this program continuing–or transitioning their patients?  iHealthBeat, PR Newswire

More telehealth for the bassinet set

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/3019806-poster-1280-sprouting.jpg” thumb_width=”160″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/product_sock-Owlet.png” thumb_width=”160″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/0ca96884.MimoKimono.png” thumb_width=”160″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Sensible-baby.jpg” thumb_width=”160″ /]Industry talk is that wearables are no longer the hottest things on the hype curve because of smartwatches and smartphones getting even smarter, but one area is the exception: baby wearables. MedCityNews has an overview of four, three of which we’ve noted since late 2012: Sproutling, Owlet, Rest Devices’ Mimo Turtle (which fastens into Kimono, a/k/a the ‘onesie’) and (new to us) Sensible Baby SmartOne. All have some combination of heart rate, skin temperature, movement/sleep position monitoring from sensors into a smartphone app. Form factors: Sproutling and Owlet are anklets, Mimo Turtle’s monitor fits into a designated secure pocket in the lower (baby’s) left of the onesie, Sensible Baby goes into a pocket or attaches to clothing so it’s likely more suitable up to toddler age. Last December’s FastCompanyDesign article on Sproutling targeted its debut for this summer [TTA 10 Dec 13], but there’s no trace of a website so it’s still in development. Owlet’s been in market since fall 2013 [TTA 27 Aug 13] as has Mimo Turtle which is now sold through major retailer Babies ‘R’ Us.  Sensible Baby is still inviting beta testers and pre-orders at $99, projecting $149 when on sale later this year. There’s also no reassurance on the site that the SmartOne can be safely chewed — and of greater concern, its size appears to be small enough to swallow. With pricing between $150 and $300, they are at the Velocity of Cute as ‘ooh-ahh’ gifts for those baby showers which are coming up on many calendars and for your favorite Quantified Self Moms. (Just hold the obsessive smartphone checking.)

Also: Investor/engineering lab Lemnos Labs’ blog posting on Sproutling’s development from application/prototype to a scalable production model will be interesting especially if you are being challenged in the hardware development process.

Previously in TTA: Wearables on the hype cycle: a ‘Fitbit for babies’Owlet baby monitor sock exceeds funding goal (But Huggies Tweet Pee seems to have stayed in Brasil…), Owlet baby monitor sock moving to marketCute sensor fashions now for baby

Pacifying baby, taking temperature

UK developer BlueMaestro has announced a temperature-sensing baby pacifier with the somewhat obvious name Pacifi. According to Mobihealthnews (but frustratingly not on their website), the pacifier sends temperature data via Bluetooth Smart to an iPhone or Android app. Parents can record medication dosing and reminders, track temperature and medication over time, and set up an alarm when baby runs a high predetermined temperature. It’s also dishwasher safe. Pacifi joins Raiing Wireless‘ body thermometer FDA cleared in 2012 (now iThermometer) and Kinsa’s plug-in smart thermometer which took a crowdsourcing approach to local public health. It is not cleared for sale yet in the UK or US, but was shown at last month’s Mobile World Congress Barcelona and the Smart UK Project in London. Unfortunately, it may be a while before Quantified Self Moms can put it on the list for their baby showers, along with the Owlet monitoring sock, Mimo onesie and iTeddy [TTA 10 Sept]. Related: MedCityNews compares Mimo to adult sleep monitor Lark, awarding the matchup to Mimo. The real matchup is Owlet versus Mimo (see this Editor’s comment). (Also see our comments here discussing the safety of RF monitoring around babies.)

Wearables on the hype cycle: a ‘Fitbit for babies’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/3019806-poster-1280-sprouting.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Is nothing sacred? Certainly not when you want a high-performing infant! FastCompany Design goes ga-ga over the Sproutling, an anklet activity monitor for the bassinet set. It tracks heart rate, skin temperature, and movement plus the room’s ambient temperature, humidity and light levels via a camera and sensors in a base station, sending data to parental smartphones. Target price not disclosed. More measurements here than our late summer baby rave, the Owlet smart sock sleep monitor which primarily alerts for dangerous baby rollover onto the stomach and trends in sleep quality, plus blood oxygen and skin temperature. There’s quite a bit in the article (more…)

Owlet baby monitor sock exceeds funding goal

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Owlet-closeup-small.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]In late August, we followed up on the major league cute ‘n’ useful Owlet monitoring sock and its effort to self-fund development. It’s now exceeded its $100,000 crowdfunding goal at over $121,000 with 721 pledged supporters. Along with this of course is the obligation to deliver products in November. What this points to is the appeal of a product addressing the powerful concern of baby wellness and sleep–a ‘job to be done’–and that it can be done outside of the usual East/West Coast accelerator, cocktail party and D3H hype loop in decidedly unfashionable, abstemious Utah. Congratulations in order! Website/pledge tracker.

There’s a bit of a boomlet in baby monitoring products, with Mobihealthnews lining up the Rest Devices’ Mimo onesie plus ‘turtle’ monitor, Croatia’s iDerma Teddy the Guardian teddy bear [TTA 22 July], Pixie Scientific’s Smart Diapers which not only detects wetting but also UTIs or kidney problems and the simpler Huggies Tweet Pee that alerts to changing (and reminds to buy diapers) which is in test in Brazil but reportedly will launch this month. Baby showers and their concomitant oohing and aahhing will never be the same. 6 baby activity trackers announced this summer

‘Angel (Investment) in America’ perking up

Two articles in the Washington Post and Business News Daily cite fresh interest in ‘angel’ investing in the US in the healthcare, mobile and internet sectors. Conducted by pre-money valuation tool Worthworm (yet to debut), a survey of 100 angel investors indicate that next year, 50 percent of angel investors plan to increase the number of their investments and 24 percent plan to increase the dollar amount of investment in 2014.’ 40 percent of respondents expect increased healthcare investing and over 30 percent favor mobile and Internet companies. (more…)

Owlet baby monitor sock moving to market

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/product_sock-Owlet.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]About nine months ago [TTA 6 Dec 12], the Owlet baby monitor in prototype won a student competition at Brigham Young University. It definitely ‘socked it” to this Editor at the time as an elegant way to monitor baby vital signs or signs of distress; it is a sensor-rich sock transmitting to a smartphone. While it still had pending patents, needed further prototyping and of course no FDA approval, I recommended “if you’re an angel looking for a highly marketable telehealth item–and with adult uses in hospitals and nursing homes–a trip to Utah may be in order.” Owlet is now seeking $100,000 in crowdfunding directly via its website and Amazon checkout (it was rejected by Kickstarter for being a baby product!) and will ship the device at an early bird rate of $159 once the funding is achieved. (more…)