Ybrain Closes $3.5 Million Series A For Alzheimer’s-Focused Wearables

Korean digital health startup Ybrain announces that it has closed a $3.5 million Series A round led by Stonebridge Capital. The funding come a year after a 2013 seed round which netted $650,000 from a group of undisclosed angel investors, bringing Ybrain’s total raised to $4.1 million. co-founder Seungyeon Kim reports that the new funding will be used to pay for clinical trials of its flagship product, a headset designed to help reduce cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Ybrain Closes $3.5 Million Series A For Alzheimer’s-Focused Wearables

Led by California Institute of Technology neuroscientist Kyongsik Yun, Ybrain has designed a headset with two embedded electrodes that generate and repeatedly administer a small 2-milliampere electrical signal into the brain. These signals stimulate brain activity in the patient, reducing cognitive degeneration over time. The device was designed for patients who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, but the company reports that older patients with mild cognitive impairment are also able to benefit from using the device. Patients are instructed to use the device for 30 minutes per day, five-days per week.

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New Rumors Emerge As Apple Nears Its September 9 iWatch Unveil

A flurry of new rumors and announcements have consumed digital health in the past week as Apple prepares for the highly anticipated release of the iWatch, Apple’s first new product since its 2010 iPad launch. The rumor mill has been steadily churning out iWatch-related speculations, most based on confirmed Apple new hires, since details of the iWatch project were leaked in February 2013. However, since Apple’s announcement of an upcoming media event, the rumor mill has jumped into hyper drive.

Will Apple unveil the iWatch on September 9?

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Qualcomm Announces Tricorder X-Prize Finalists

Qualcomm announces the 10 finalists in its ambitious Tricorder X-Prize competition. The digital health contest was announced in 2010, as a partnership between Qualcomm and the X-Prize Foundation. The contest challenged participating teams to “develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians,” and offers $10 million in prizes as an incentive.

Qualcomm Announces Tricorder X-Prize Finalists

Founded by American entrepreneur and Singularity University co-founder Peter Diamandis, the X-Prize Foundation has a long standing history of fueling innovation. Since its 1994 launch, it has awarded prizes for the first privately manned spaceship to successfully reach orbit, the first 100mpg car, and for a more efficient oil spill cleanup technology. Now, the foundation is pushing into the digital health space as competition heats up around its Tricorder X-Prize contest.

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News for the Week of 8/29/14

Rumor has it the iWatch will be announced September 9 by Apple. Apple will also be releasing HealthKit with iOS 8 later this fall – it aggregates health data from wearable and iOS apps. Apple has updated its privacy policies to prohibit developers whose app accesses HealthKit data from aggregating that data and selling it to marketers or data brokers. It’s a strong move by Apple. I’m not surprised since there are no indications I’ve seen that they plan to sign business associate agreements or consider themselves a business associate (or subcontractor) under HIPAA. Now we just need to trust Apple as the holder of health data.

News for the Week of 8/29/14

The VA has rolled out good mobile apps for wounded warriors. A new one is being created — not technically by the VA — that will help veterans find location-based resources, including social support.

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Chinese Doctors Implant 3D Printed Vertebra In Pediatric Bone Cancer Patient

Surgeons at China’s Peking University No. 3 Hospital have successfully implanted a 3D printed vertebrate in a young boy with bone cancer, a first in orthopedic medicine. The 12-year-old boy injured his neck playing soccer earlier this year, and subsequent tests led to the discovery of  a malignant tumor in his second vertebra.

Chinese Doctors Implant 3D Printed Vertebra In Pediatric Bone Cancer Patient

The boy underwent a procedure to remove the cancerous vertebrate two months ago, and has been slowly recovering since.  With no second vertebra, the boy’s mobility was severely limited. He has been restricted to bed rest and is required to wear an external support frame to reduce pressure on his spine.  Liu Zhongjun, MD and Director of Orthopedics at No. 3 Hospital explains, “Using existing technology, the patient’s head needs to be framed with pins after surgery. The patient’s head cannot touch the bed when he is resting. This lasts for at least three months.”

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Skullcandy Partners with USC On Innovation Contest That Blends Music With Biometrics

The University of Southern California announces a partnership between its Center for Body Computing department and headphone manufacturer Skullcandy. Each year, USC hosts an annual innovation contest called the CBC SLAM that attracts digital health developers and focuses them on a specific problem or theme. This year, USC and Skullcandy will work together to host an innovation contest aimed at generating development efforts at the intersection of biometrics, fitness tracking, and music. In a press release, USC describes it as a way of challenging creative minds to use music in a way that helps consumers better understand their personal health.

Skullcandy Partners with USC On Innovation Contest That Blends Music With Biometrics

The intersection of music and fitness tracking is a less frequently travelled path than one might think. Several fitness apps integrate with smartphone music libraries and allow users to create workout playlists, but few are exploring the relationships between music choice and exertion or physical stamina, or music’s ability to help adjust mood, or otherwise support behavioral changes. Leslie Saxon, cardiologist and founder of USC’s Center for Body Computing explains, “Through the birth of on-demand mobile music platforms and small wireless body-worn sensors, we now have the technology to build innovative products that incorporate and tailor music to the signals our bodies generate."

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The Next Digital Health IPO (I Hope)

Going public — doing an IPO — is considered a major success for founders and investors. Whether it’s a true sign of success or not, it’s a great way to return money to investors and for employees and founders to cash out some or all of their shares.

IPOs have been on my mind a lot recently with the Castlight IPO, the recent reports on revenue for private health companies, and now the recent news of another large strategic round of funding for AirStrip. Apparently speculating about IPOs is fun, with a story published earlier this month about potential upcoming IPOs in healthcare. I read a story by Michelle Snyder a few years back on the same subject.

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AirStrip Raises $25 Million Strategic Funding Round

San Antonio, Texas-based digital health firm Airstrip announces a $25 million strategic funding round co-led by returning investors Sequoia Capital and Wellcome Trust, and new investor the Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund. Additional capital was contributed by a number of Airstrip customers turned investors, including Hospital Corporation of America, Dignity Health, and St. Joseph Health.  The latest funding round bringing its total raised to $65 million since its 2004 launch.

AirStrip Raises $25 Million Strategic Funding Round

AirStrip was an early example of a successful mHealth startup. The company builds mobile applications for clinicians that captures clinical data from desktop-based EHR systems and bedside patient monitors, and mobilizes that data by pushing it to an AirStrip smartphone or tablet-based app. AirStrip essentially works as a data integrator, sitting as a mobile-optimized overlay to legacy EHR systems, and adding real-time EKG and fetal monitor waveform feeds. By streaming waveforms to mobile devices, providers are able to monitor patients without having to be physically at the bedside.  Since its launch, AirStrip has excelled at pushing its solutions into the hands of clinicians, as CEO Alan Portela explains, “Right now one in six babies born in the US is monitored with AirStrip.”

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