Boost for self-tracking wristwatch market


Boost for self-tracking wristwatch market

The market for wearable health-tracking devices has received a boost with multi-million dollar funding secured by a leader in the field of wristwatch-type products to continue its development of the "Basis" band.

The Basis tracker can keep a close check on heart rate, motion, sweating and skin temperature, day and night, and develop personalized feedback toward the formation of healthy habits from the data it collects.

The wristwatch-type device, already on the market, should see increased production and become more advanced now that its maker has raised a further $11.75 million in series B funding in a new round of investments.

The band has four sensors on its back in contact with the skin on the wearer's wrist:

  • Optical blood flow sensor that captures heart rate patterns throughout the day and night
  • Three-axis accelerometer that measures daytime physical activity and nighttime quality of sleep
  • Sensor that measures changes in skin temperature to pick up levels of exertion, and
  • Perspiration monitor that also captures exertion levels during a workout.

Intel Capital is one of the new investors backing the self-tracking gadget, alongside iNovia Capital, Dolby Family Trust, Stanford University and Peninsula-KCG. Existing investors also added more financing, and Basis Science now has backing totalling more than $23 million.

Intel Capital's president, Arvind Sodhani, also Intel executive vice-president, says:

Wearable computing enables a data-driven approach to managing healthcare and fitness.

By collecting heart rate, skin and ambient temperature data along with movement tracking, the Basis multi-sensor band opens up opportunities for data analytics driving deeper insights into health and personal behavior."

Self-monitoring with gadgets like the Basis tracker is increasingly enabling individuals to track their own health throughout the day. Photo: Basis Science

The Basis watch analyzes the data it collects, "automatically classifying activity and sleep into a personalized data feed." It intelligently filters different readings, for example interpreting arm movements for an accurate reading of steps taken.

The company's product information says "it is important to ensure that physical activities like walking are captured versus sedentary activities with arm motion, like key tapping during computer work. Basis applies a special filter within our algorithms to take this into account."

In addition to announcing the new money, Basis also appointed a vice president of product, Ethan Fassett, "a veteran in mobile and platform product strategy" who will help drive the company's "biosensor approach to physiology and behavior change."

A statement from Basis says: "Ethan and the team will continue to make the Basis system more intelligent through an enhanced understanding of user behavior patterns and intention, sensor-captured information and other data-based insights."

Jef Holove, the device developer's chief executive, says:

We now capture billions of heart beats each week. With this new [investment] support, we'll be able to continue to build on our strong foundation and offer a great experience for many more people looking to build healthy habits."

The round of new investment is perhaps no surprise since investors will be keen to enter a market that, according to IMS Research, is poised to grow from 14 million devices shipped in 2011, to as many as 171 million units by 2016.

This as a 12-fold predicted growth in the wearable health-tracking market. Whether such consumer interest in self-monitoring gadgets translates into equally quick improvements in their health remains to be seen.

In other self-monitoring news, Medical-Diag.com recently reported on a tooth sensor, which accurately detects oral activity.

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Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice