Mak­ing wear­ables more wear­able

Modern Healthcare - - INNOVATIONS - By Beth Kutscher

The mar­ket for wear­ables—the dig­i­tal devices that track ev­ery­thing from blood pres­sure and glu­cose lev­els to a per­son’s daily steps and skin tem­per­a­ture—is ex­plod­ing. Re­searchers at IDTechEx pre­dict sales of wear­able tech­nolo­gies will more than triple to $70 bil­lion in 2025, with most of that growth com­ing from the health­care sec­tor.

But the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of wear­able med­i­cal devices fails on sev­eral fronts. They tend to be bulky, boxy and more like wear­ing a small ma­chine than some­thing that works with your body. And the data typ­i­cally aren’t trans­mit­ted di­rectly to the health­care provider.

Lex­ing­ton, Mass.-based tech­nol­ogy com­pany MC10 aims to change that by re­design­ing mon­i­tor­ing devices to be more wear­able, ac­cu­rate and even cus­tom­iz­a­ble.

It has pi­loted its BioS­tamp Re­search Con­nect Sys­tem with dozens of com­pa­nies and re­search in­sti­tu­tions and now looks to move into the broader mar­ket.

The BioS­tamp is small, thin and flex­i­ble, and can be worn on mul­ti­ple sites on the body. MC10’s de­vice and ac­com­pa­ny­ing soft­ware al­lows re­searchers to cus­tom­ize the in­for­ma­tion they col­lect, whether it is some­one’s stride rate or the elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity of the heart or mo­tor neu­rons.

For physicians, the de­vice can chart a pa­tient’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion af­ter an or­tho­pe­dic pro­ce­dure such as a to­tal knee or hip re­place­ment by mea­sur­ing the in­di­vid­ual’s gait, range of mo­tion and ca­dence against his or her pre­op­er­a­tive base­line.

“Be­ing able to quan­tify that ob­jec­tively is very, very pow­er­ful,” said Isa­iah Ka­cyven­ski, a for­mer Na­tional Foot­ball League linebacker who is now MC10’s global head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, re­search and con­sumer seg­ments.

Ka­cyven­ski should know. Dur­ing his eight years with the NFL—six play­ing for the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, two for the St. Louis Rams—he un­der­went 11 surg­eries. Now, the for­mer Har­vard Univer­sity pre- med stu­dent is help­ing de­velop new ap­pli­ca­tions for the BioS­tamp de­vice.

Ka­cyven­ski joined MC10 when it was a com­pany of nine peo­ple—it now has al­most 85 em­ploy­ees, with 75 en­gi­neers.

“This is only the start,” he said. “We’re go­ing to con­tinue to add more and more sens­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.”

MC10 timed the un­veil­ing of BioS­tamp for last week’s In­ter­na­tional Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas. But it’s no new­comer. The rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing com­pany has worked with about 40 in­sti­tu­tions over the past seven years to beta-test the de­vice and has formed sev­eral in­dus­try part­ner­ships to test its wider ap­pli­ca­tions.

Last year, for in­stance, the com­pany part­nered with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany UCB, which de­vel­ops drugs for pa­tients with se­vere neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases. The BioS­tamp sen­sor will al­low it to mea­sure the phys­i­o­log­i­cal im­pact of prod­ucts that treat epilepsy, Parkin­son’s dis­ease and rest­less legs syn­drome, data the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and in­sur­ers are de­mand­ing to as­sess the drugs’ ef­fi­cacy and com­par­a­tive ef­fec­tive­ness.

Paolo Bonato, who di­rects the Mo­tion Anal­y­sis Lab­o­ra­tory at Spauld­ing Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton, has used the BioS­tamp in his own re­search. One of his stud­ies in­volves help­ing late-stage Parkin­son’s dis­ease pa­tients titrate their med­i­ca­tion based on their symp­toms.

Of­ten, pa­tients can’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween tremors and dysk­i­ne­sia, which means dif­fi­culty per­form­ing vol­un­tary move­ments. Doc­tors have to make med­i­ca­tion de­ci­sions with only a small win­dow of time to ob­serve the pa­tient. “That 20 min­utes is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what hap­pens with a pa­tient,” Bonato said.

Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are also in­ter­ested in wear­able tech­nol­ogy be­cause it’s more ef­fi­cient to con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor pa­tients in their homes.

Reebok has in­cor­po­rated BioS­tamp sen­sors into its Check­light prod­uct, a tightly fit­ted cap worn un­der a hel­met that re­tails for about $150. The cap mea­sures force of im­pact. And while it doesn’t di­ag­nose con­cus­sions, it can be used as a tool for con­cus­sion re­search. MC10 also has part­nered with cos­metic com­pany L’Oreal on a patch that can track the skin’s ex­po­sure to ul­travi­o­let light over time.

BioS­tamp’s ad­van­tage comes from its flex­i­bil­ity. Few of to­day’s wear­able tech­nolo­gies are flex­i­ble, with most still de­signed on a flat printed cir­cuit board, said Spauld­ing re­searcher Bonato.

MC10 does not dis­close its rev­enue, but Ka­cyven­ski said the com­pany has raised more than $65 mil­lion in ven­ture cap­i­tal. Its largest in­vestor is North Bridge Ven­tures.

The BioS­tamp is small, thin and flex­i­ble, and

can be worn on mul­ti­ple sites on the body.

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