Wearable sensor technology, while popular in the athletics industry, has been an elusive target in terms of medical applicability. As we reported last year, Vancive Medical Technologies (formerly Avery Dennison Medical Solutions, Chicago, IL) has created Metria, a disposable wearable sensor to improve medical monitoring. As noted in a recent press release, Metria is:
…a new advance in remote body monitoring…[and]…the development of a body monitor patch offering a comfortable, economical means of gathering physiological data for health and wellness initiatives over a period of seven days or less.
Vancive is working with partners to produce and market medical device products based on Metria technology. These will include weight management, lifestyle and health-oriented gaming apps, scheduled for launch in 2013.
We had a chance to speak about the Metria technology with Deepak Prakash, Global Director of Marketing for Digital Health at Vancive Medical Technologies.
Ravi Parikh, Medgadget: Could you tell us a bit more about your background? How did you get
involved in device development and biosensors?
Deepak Prakash, Vancive Global Director of Marketing for Digital Health: I am a career medical device professional with over 15 years experience covering product development and marketing. I have a MS in Chemical Engineering and MBA from Northwestern. I have always been in device development. Although I never worked directly on biosensors in the past, I have been involved in integrated hardware and embedded systems, and that knowledge has helped me.
Medgadget: Can you tell us about the state of the physiological sensor market before the Metria technology?
Prakash: Physiologic sensors have been around for a long time. Sensors have been used to measure anything from your heart rate to motion to oximetry. Few things have changed in the market – the main thing is with the advent of the “Quantified Self” movement, driven by a combination of technology advances and information hungry consumers, physiologic sensing is now mainstream – by that I mean, it has stepped out of the “clinical only” realm into the general consumer market. This has led to a plethora of devices and services coming into the market intended to provide a wide variety of vital information. All these have led to a redefinition of the healthcare continuum.
Medgadget: How does the Metria sensor improve upon these?
Prakash: The unique feature of the Metria Informed Health* products is the form factor – sensors are very useful things, but if it is not user friendly or enhance the quality of life for the person using it, it is not going to gain traction. That has been a big focus for us with Metria.
Medgadget: What clinical variables can Metria measure?
Prakash: Metria is a platform and there are multiple configurations that can be derived from that platform based on sensor and firmware combinations – we have ability to measure, heart rate, heart rate variability, activity levels, sleep, respiration (under rest only), calorie expenditure. We can also capture, store and transmit 1 channel ECG. Note that all of this is not possible in one device – it represents multiple device configurations.
Prakash: The products are still in development and as such has seen only limited use in the external community (for clinical testing, etc.) – so far comments have been positive about the ease of use of the product and its comfort. Vancive Medical Technologies brings several years of experience in this area when it comes to adhesive chemistries and material sciences, and we have leveraged that expertise in this platform to make products that will enhance the quality of life for the user of our products.
Medgadget: Can you tell us more about the mobile user interface for the product?
Prakash: The UI we have today was mainly for demonstration purposes. It runs on a compatible Android device (for now) and an user can see the values they have collected through the sensor. In the future, the app may or may not be needed as part of the commercial or business model of the partner using our technology. For example, all the values collected from the sensor may be sent to a partner’s portal for visualiztion in which case, the user will be seeing data from the partner’s app/web interface.
Medgadget: How do you envision Metria being used in the clinical setting?
Prakash: Due to certain restrictions, we are presently not pursuing use of Metria in an in-hospital clinical setting. We envision Metria being used in remote monitoring applications – for example, you could be discharged after surgery or other clinical intervention, and Metria products may be used to monitor the patient in their home or alternate care setting. Similarly, it could also be used on a preventative or screening basis if a certain clinical condition is noticed, before a decision is made for clinical intervention.
Medgadget: We read a little about how you are partnering with a health gaming company. Can you tell us more about the applications?
Prakash: We partnered with a Canadian health gaming company called Ayogo, through the USC Bodycomputing Association, in developing a game that incorporated physiologic information from the Metria platform. Given all the health conditions with children today, especially around obesity, the game was developed as a concept to get children more engaged in their health while doing something they like (play games) in a fun and exciting way. At a high level, as you engage in physical activity, the Metria device collects key physiologic information (for ex., heart rate or motion), and this helps unlock various levels in the game. In the game, you are jellyfish and the more active you are, the more power you gain to help navigate the ocean.
Medgadget: Any more information that you would like to share?
Prakash: Nothing more. Thanks for the opportunity. We are at the cusp of our first
commercial launch of a Metria Informed Health product with one of partners, and be on the look out for more offerings from Vancive Medical Technologies over the next 24 months.
* Metria Informed Health products contain technologies from Proteus Digital Health, and Bodymedia.