One pearl found at the Wearable Technology Show 2014 (UK)

They say if you open enough oysters you’ll find a pearl, which was certainly true of the Wearable Technology Show 2014  held in Olympia on March 18-19. Perhaps I should have paid up to be a delegate, because to me the exhibition was fairly underwhelming with little to excite. Clearly some of the exhibitors felt that way too, as at least a couple of booths had been deserted by midday on the second day. There was one star though.

Unfortunately not all the exhibitors were recorded in the “Exhibitors A-Z” in the show guide so as I had been relying on that for writing this report, I do not have a complete list. For those wondering what they missed, here are a selection (more…)

The CES of Health (Monday)

A managing director of Accenture, writing in Forbes, looks at the health tech trends as ZDNet did (TTA 5 Jan) and lobs a few surprises. He checks the boxes for wearables and real-time monitoring (what ZDNet called The Internet of Things), but also added in–happily for us–aging in place technologies, giving as examples household robots, med dispensers, video calling, easy navigation screens and interfaces (Bosch Health Buddy Web, GrandCare?). Surprisingly on the list: telecare–“motion sensors that can tell if a person has fallen”. Could it be QuietCare’s and Healthsense’s time–or will these be in a watch form factor? And how about proactive fall detection to help prevent them in the first place?

Withings gets into the Z-Z-Z-Z market: the Aura Smart Sleep System monitors noise, room temperature and light level. It also has an under-mattress sleep sensor to monitor breathing, body movements and heart rate. The app on your mobile device makes sense of the data so you can understand your sleeping patterns and make needed changes for better rest. It’s one of ZDNet’s top 10 products (so far) today.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/blue-blazes.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Our Blue Blazes award (so far) goes to the Kolibree Bluetooth Toothbrush. It connects with an app which somehow sizes up how well you–and other members of your family–are polishing their pearlies. Crowdfunding this summer, available either in July or 3rd Quarter (depending on reports) for iPhone and Android (Samsung Galaxy III and S4). It sounds like a good fit for the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue. MacRumors The Guardian takes an even more dim view by including it in its ‘Day Zero vapourware at CES’ list but Engadget likes it (the job to be done by the inventor related to the kids).

And if you are already there, accelerator/investor RockHealth has a guide to where they will be participating at CES through 9 January here, if you’re interested.

10 sensor-based telehealth companies

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/biostamp.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Our First 10 For Friday is what is termed a ‘sensor technology renaissance’ in telehealth, mostly tied to that sensor-equipped device called a smartphone. The ten companies profiled in Bionic.ly, including an ingestible, are:

Sano Intelligence–wearable patch sensor transmitting blood chemistry data such as glucose and potassium

Zephyr Technology–performance shirts in partnership with UnderArmour [TTA 25 Mar]

Cardiio–developed by the MIT Media Lab, it uses changes in skin tone read by an iPhone to measure resting heart rate [TTA 21 Mar]

MC10 (picture left/above)–the Biostamp elastic sensor and sensors used by combat soldiers to measure hydration, temperature, impact and other body indicators [TTA 22 Feb] (more…)

Jawbone jawbones $100 million in financing

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/band1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Fortune, no usual hangout for health tech news, headlined late last week that Jawbone, which recently relaunched its UP fitness tracker after the earlier version developed glitches, obtained $93 million in debt financing and is rumored to be lining up another $20 million in equity financing from its four largest existing VC backers: Andreessen Horowitz, JPMorgan Digital Growth Fund, Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Reportedly they are wildly back-ordered for the colorful and stylish UP fitness tracker (now a fashionista item, a sure sign of scarcity). Their founder/CEO Hosain Rahman told Fortune “We’ve been experiencing crazy sell-through demand, particularly since the relaunch of Up. It’s been faster than anything we’d had before, and equity is not the most efficient way to scale all that.” We’ve previously noted Jawbone’s aggressive acquisition warpath with BodyMedia [30 April] and Massive Health [11 Feb]. Competitors have hardly been sleeping: Fitbit just raised an additional $43 million to add to their previous $23 million [15 Aug] and Withings a fresh $30 million [22 July], so fitness trackers are all going one way–up. Exclusive: Jawbone raises more than $100 million (Fortune). Also Mobihealthnews.

Doro 2.0 smartphone QSs with Withings (EU)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Doro-Liberto-810.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Doro’s unveiling of their second smartphone, the Doro Liberto 810,  along with its ‘privileged access’ to two Withings devices–the Smart Body Analyzer (weight, body fat, heart rate) and Pulse Smart Activity Tracker–continues their moves into older adult-appealing mobile telecare/telehealth offerings, as tracked by founding Editor Steve since at least 2009.  Doro’s assertive move into Quantified Selfing as part of what they call ‘the world’s most liberating smartphone’, is more fully featured and was predicted by David Doherty earlier this year [TTA 25 Feb]. It is also not Doro’s first big alliance; late last year, Bosch Healthcare announced that Doro would be the mobile platform for telecare offerings in Germany and Sweden [TTA 16 Nov 2012]. Both the release and Mobihealthnews indicate that this offering will roll out to select European markets initially, but the latter states that a similar offering will debut in the US by early 2014. (For US readers, Doro is equivalent to GreatCall’s Jitterbug line) According to Mobile, the Liberto will be available in the UK in October.

Fast funding and sale roundup for Thursday/Friday

A quick summary of news on both recent funding, another recently released funding analysis to add to the pile and sales–one completed, one potential:

  • The StartUp Health accelerator is now producing its independent analysis of health tech funding deals, presumably to catch the fire of RockHealth’s recognized quarterly report [TTA 9 July]. The July 2013 Digital Health Insights Funding Report is available in Slideshare format on their website with the most reported news being the 47 percent year-over-year growth to date, contrasting to RockHealth’s 12 percent, though the difference in all three may be the sampling. Practice management, big data and body computing/sensors lead the trends, according to their summary.
  • What is intriguing in the July deals is the whopping $40 million Series A funding of Oscar, which will integrate telemedicine (presumably consults) and free generic medications to its members in New York State, where they’ve stated they will be integrated into the Health Exchange in NY State. One wonders how they plan to do so on insurance exchanges which haven’t even started yet and which will be having their own challenges being a retail platform for health plans. Not unexpectedly you’ll find Khosla Ventures and Thrive Capital on the roster. MedSynergies led with a $65 million Series A for their software which will facilitate hospital networks performance monitoring of practices and provider referrals/scheduling. Internationally, Withings raised a $30 million Series A in July. MedCityNews also delves deeper into what they see as trends.
  • Fitbit just raised an additional $43 million to add to their previous $23 million. While they are still lagging fitness monitoring rival Jawbone UP by $84 million, rumors abound on what Fitbit plans to do with it: a more fully featured smartwatch? Additional apps to keep their user base engaged?–at the risk of overcomplication?   Fortune, TechCrunch
  • Toronto-based Diversinet closed their sale to New Jersey-based IMS Health for what seems like a small amount: (US)$3.5 million. Its MobiSecure technology provides government-security level mobile app security to customers such as AirStrip and the US Army. However, they were embroiled in early days in a breakup with a mobile provider, AllOne Health, and despite all their high-level tech clearances, the income realized, according to Mobihealthnews, was only in the $1 million range per year and declining and losses increasing. IMS Health is best known for its healthcare informatics, but has been involved with Ford’s in-car SYNC in development of the Allergy Alert app [TTA 7 Aug 12].
  • The ‘For Sale’ sign is also up at BlackBerry, with a corporate committee now officially exploring alliances and a sale, in the usual depressing drill. In a company once ubiquitous enough for smartphone usage to be dubbed ‘Crackberry’, and which still enjoys major worldwide market share and enterprise favor, they cannot get traction with new models. This Editor never used or liked BB, but it’s still kind of sad. ZDNet.

‘Wired for health’, making case for mHealth

STSI (Scripps Translational Science Institute), directed by the famous Eric Topol, MD,  is undertaking a 200-person six-month research study to determine the results of telehealth monitoring for three conditions (diabetes, heart arrhythmia and high blood pressure) coupled with an active disease management program. Half of the survey group will receive a Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, an AliveCor Heart Monitor and an iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter delivered via Qualcomm Life’s 2net Hub and Platform to a web portal or mobile device; the remainder will not but will be part of the disease management program. Subjects will be drawn from Scripps Health employees and family, which to this Editor may be stacking the deck–most employees of a health system presumably are health-conscious.  Participants also include Scripps Health, HealthComp (third-party healthcare administrator which will monitor health status), Accenture and Sanofi Diabetes. Though the release promises ‘social networks’, the only reference this Editor could find is interactivity between the person and the health care team.  Scripps press release. MedCityNews  Hat tip to former QuietCare colleague José Molina (via LinkedIn)

Health tech funding reshapes, diversifies

In thinking how funding for health tech startups has changed since this Editor’s early days (2006) when VCs had a lock on the Letter Series (A, B, C) and your real goal was to ‘please, Lord, won’t you find me a strategic investor?’ (are there any of those left?), some more pointers to the future, both in EU and US:

Withings, known for its pioneering Bluetooth scale circa 2009, and more recently other Bluetooth monitors, nimbly moves to wearables with a fitness tracker about the size of a USB drive and priced at an affordable $99. It also has raised $30 million led by Bpifrance with $15 million, with participation from Idinvest Partners, 360 Capital Partners, and Ventech. (Most of us have forgotten that Withings is a French company.) A French challenge to Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone and a whole raft of smartwatches coming 2013-2014 including Sony, Pebble and Apple? VentureBeat

Angel funding diversifies geographically. No longer do the coasts have a lock on the action. Silicon Valley has had some problems [TTA 18 July], Silicon Alley (NY) is still finding its way and Boston/Cambridge is, well, Boston/Cambridge. We recently covered angel groups in Ohio (LaunchHouse), Texas (Wildcatters) and Arizona (SeedSpot). Now Delaware joins the list with FP Angels. And where are most of the companies? According to the Halo Report, in the US Southwest. Angel investing groups show love for the Southwest and healthcare in Q1 (MedCityNews)

And the rise of crowdfunding. As mentioned previously, angels and ‘FFF’ funding has been supplemented and market tested by crowdfunders such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo, MedStartr and Health Tech Hatch. Two kitchen-table entrepreneurs can market test their idea almost immediately. The problem is failure to deliver on time, on budget and as promised, as witnessed by the overwhelmingly successful Misfit Shine. The math of Hardware+Crowdfunding=Success has more than a few caveats in the formula. The hardware revolution will be crowdfunded (VentureBeat)

And a little-noticed change in Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations lifted the ban on ‘General Solicitation’ which according to this Forbes article will allow entrepreneurs seeking funding to cast a net beyond their network of ‘pre-existing relationships’–but they have to be accredited investors. It makes the reach to non-accredited investor interest just a little bit closer–for good or ill. The SEC’s Removal of General Solicitation Changes Everything

For our readers, health tech appears ‘siloed’ by region and country. What does it take to move beyond borders?:

  • If your startup is based in the UK or EU, have you thought about reaching out to US funding through a US base?
  • If you’ve considered and rejected it, why? (Health tech
  • Why are we not seeing more activity by UK/EU companies in the US (or Americas) markets?
  • What do you perceive as the differences between developing health tech ex US–and translating it to the US market?
  • Has anyone had experience extending in non-US/UK/EU markets?