New $13 Fitness Tracker Monitors Activity, Sleep, and Will Even Unlock Your Phone

Xiaomi, a Hong Kong-based consumer electronics manufacturer, is going toe to toe with Google, Samsung, and Apple in the escalating arms race toward fitness trackers. During its annual product launch event last week, the company unveiled a new activity tracker, called the Mi Band, that may not have all the bells and whistles one might get with a Fitbit but with a retail price of $13, its hard not to give it serious consideration.

New $13 Fitness Tracker Monitors Activity, Sleep, and Will Even Unlock Your Phone

The product launch was short on details, and the company’s site has yet to provide specs for the new tracker, but early claims by the company say that it will track activity and sleep patterns, and wirelessly synch the data to a tethered smartphone. The tracker claims to do more than just track fitness metrics, it also provides a built in sleep cycle alarm clock that monitors a users circadian rhythm and wakes them at the ideal time, within a 30 minute window of when they set their alarm. Even more impressive is that the new units claim a 30-day battery life. Pushing its usefulness a bit further, it also provides users password-free way of unlocking a tethered smartphone. Collectively, the new tracker brings a lot of functionality to the table for its tiny $13 price tag.

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Google Announces New Health-Focused X Labs Project

Google announces that the next project researchers within its X Labs division will work on will be another health-focused initiative called the Baseline Study. This time, Googlers will be teaming up with researchers from Duke University and Stanford University to aggregate the most comprehensive dataset ever constructed from a small population of health adults, with the goal of defining in great detail what exactly a health human body looks like, in an effort to shift research from treatment of late-stage diseases, to prevention at earlier stages.

"With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems. That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like." – Andrew Conrad, PhD, Baseline Study project lead.

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Fitness Photo Sharing App Raises $2.4 Million Seed Round

PumpUp, a photo sharing social network focused on the fitness market, announces a $2.4 million seed round led by General Catalyst Partners. Azure Capital Partners, Relay Ventures, Freycincet Investments, and a group of undisclosed investors also participated in the round. The round follows a previous seed round in September 2013 that raised $200,000. In 2012, PumpUp graduated from startup incubator HYPERDRIVE, which contributed $40,000 in seed funding. In total, the company has raised $2,640,000.

Fitness Photo Sharing App Raises $2.4 Million Seed Round

PumpUp is building a site focused on weight loss photo sharing. Since the platforms 2013 launch, it has built up a 1.7 million user base, 90 percent of which are women. The app lets users set fitness goals, track and share progress through photo updates, share stories, fitness tips, recipes, and other helpful content, and creates a generally motivating and encouraging atmosphere for people pursuing various fitness goals.

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Who Has Health Data to Leverage?

Samsung, Apple, and most recently Google recently announced that they are creating platforms to aggregate digital health and wellness data. Samsung and Apple are working with big healthcare brands like UCSF and Epic, respectively.

Who Has Health Data to Leverage?

The story goes that the consumerization of healthcare; the proliferation of tracking devices, sensors, and apps; and the changing landscape of payment reform and accountable (lowercase) care are going to disrupt healthcare, opening up opportunities for new entrants, tools, and services powered by technology. Microsoft, to its credit or potentially poor judgment, has stood strong on the consumer side of healthcare with HealthVault for a long time.

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Biometric Clothing Vendor Sensoria Raises $5 Million Series A Round

Redmond, WA-based biometric clothing startup Sensoria announced a $5 million Series A round led by Reply SpA, an Italian consulting and systems integration firm. In return, Reply SpA is taking a 20 percent equity stake in Sensoria and adding a seat to the board of directors. The round brings Sensoria’s total funding to $6 million, with a $1 million angel investment in 2013 and a $115,000 Indiegogo Campaign.

Biometric Clothing Vendor Sensoria Raises $5 Million Series A Round

Despite launching in 2010, Sensoria is still a pre-market startup. The company is building “smart clothing” with embedded sensors that are able to monitor a variety of different biometrics and sync them wirelessly with a tethered smartphone. The company is developing fitness socks for athletes that need to capture more than a traditional activity tracker. These socks go well beyond measuring steps taken, capturing cadence, weight distribution, and foot landing technique. This information is passed to an anklet that sends data to a smartphone. The accompanying app is able to provide real-time adjustment recommendations to help athletes improve technique.

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Women’s Health Apps Leading mHealth VC Funding for 2014

While most digital health startups are fairing well in the hunt for venture funding lately, it seems that women’s health apps are doing the best. A recent TechCrunch article analyzing recent funding within the mHealth market reports that startups building women’s health apps are leading the pack in 2014, both  in terms of funding, and in terms of user engagement.

Women’s Health Apps Leading mHealth VC Funding for 2014

In the last three months, investors have committed $65 million in funding to women’s health app developers Meet You and Dayima, both building data-driven ovulation and menstrual cycle trackers for the Chinese market.

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Genetics Trump Digital Health In New Biological Pacemaker Study

Researchers with Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have announced promising results from a study testing the theory that an abnormal heart beat could be corrected by introducing a small genetic mutation designed to repair the heart, rather than by implanting a traditional electronic pacemaker.

Genetics Trump Digital Health In New Biological Pacemaker Study

Researchers tested the “biological pacemaker” theory first by isolating a gene called TBX18 which, when injected into heart tissue, will convert the local cells into sinoatrial node cells, the primary cells responsible for regulating heart rhythm. Next, TBX18 was injected directly into the hearts of a group of pigs that had a defect called complete heart block, which results in a slow heart rhythm. The TBX18 genes then went to work converting a small area of the pig’s heart into sinoatrial node cells. This resulted in near-immediate cardiovascular improvements. The pigs that were treated with TBX18 had faster heartbeats than a control group and their hearts were able to speed up or slow down their heart rhythm as needed based on physical activity. These pigs were also more physically active overall than the control group. In essence, the injection of genes yielded the same results that an implanted pacemaker would, but without the need for surgery.

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Epion Health Closes $4.5 Million Series A

Roseland, NJ-based Epion Health announces a $4.5 million Series A round led by Deerfield Management Company, a NY-based investment firm that focuses in healthcare startups. The funding is Epion’s first significant investment round as the startup has been running a lean startup methodology since its 2011 launch.

Epion Health Closes $4.5 Million Series A

Epion markets a tablet-based intake application that offers customized check-in forms that patients fill in as they are waiting to be seen at the doctors office. Patients can report medical history, current concerns or symptoms, or report insurance changes. Information captured in the form is then integrated with the practice EHR and PM software, in an effort to reduce administrative costs for the practice. Epion also markets a payment processing app that practices can use to collect a co-pay as part of the check-in process. Credit and debt card payments are accepted by the system and then payment data is synched with the offices PM suite.

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