Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe
What the heck is going on at Quanttus, the best-funded wearable device startup in town? The company has raised $22 million in venture capital, but after saying that it would unveil its product — a wristband that can monitor your blood pressure — in April, nothing happened.
Now, former employees say there has been a new round of layoffs and resignations. The chief executive, Shahid Azim, is also out, but a new CEO hasn’t yet been named.
Brad Cohen, the Lycos president and chief strategy officer, launched the Lycos Life division last month, with a focus on selling wearable wristbands and rings that act as fitness trackers and password managers. These devices are also prepped to “talk” with home devices — from toasters to thermostats and coffee makers to cars — and would presumably become increasingly useful as more consumers trade up to more-connected appliances.
Now what? This is the question that wearable tech companies face as they attempt to make the transition from wellness to healthcare. While many wearables allow users to track wellness metrics like steps and sleeping time, there is a critical need to analyze and translate this data into clinically actionable health information. One company that has successfully answered this question and is leading the way in this area is BioSensics, who were the showcase exhibitors at Biotech Connection Boston’s recent event, Big Data Gets Personal: Transforming Healthcare in the Age of Wearable Tech.
BioSensics has positioned themselves at the critical junction between biomedical research and product development by focusing on unique wearables in the healthcare space. Founded at Harvard in 2007, every project BioSensics explores is grounded in collaborative academic research with leading medical centers, including the University of Arizona, the Arizona Center on Aging, and, here in Boston, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Rosalind Picard, a professor at MIT and co-founder of Empatica, is trying to change the face of epilepsy, the often-stigmatized neurological condition, along with her team. An affective computing company consisting of roughly fifteen members, they’ve developed a new wearable technology that seeks to prevent deaths from seizures with a simple watch. “The idea is that you want to get information to somebody nearby as soon as possible,” Picard says, which is what the watch and its accompanying app will do.
Stacey Higginbotham, Fortune
“The old headquarters were founded very much on this older philosophy of R&D where you needed to be in a quiet place for research and then you handed your ideas to the business for commercialization,” said Henk van Houten, executive vice president & general manager, Philips Research.
But now that philosophy has changed and R&D must be more integrated with the business, as well as with startups and other potential partners in big businesses and academia. Given that Philips will focus on lighting and healthcare technology for its R&D, Boston makes a considerable amount of sense, especially on the health side. There are plenty of academics who can parse data as well as research hospitals willing to explore how the combination of sensors, connected technology, and predictive algorithms can come together to help deliver better patient care, especially in the home.