This week on Startup Street, a look a tiny device by a Bengaluru startup that can help reduce the exposure of nurses and doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients. Industry body Ficci says agritech can help smoothen the farm-to-table supply chain amid the lockdown. And a Facebook group-turned-fitness startup gets funding.
Here’s what went on:
A Case For Contactless Health Monitoring
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in India, one set of people are particularly exposed to the risk of getting infected: frontline medical workers.
From diagnostics to patient care and treatment, these nurses, doctors and health workers are the ones who come most in contact with Covid-19 patients. It comes as no surprise then that the importance of protecting these professionals, who form the backbone of the health system, has been stressed upon by many.
One Bengaluru startup thinks its contactless health monitoring device can go a long way in helping achieve that. Turtle Shell Technologies’ Dozee can be used to monitor heartbeat, respiration, sleep, stress and other vitals with medical-grade accuracy, Co-Founder Mudit Dandwate told BloombergQuint.
“Our technology is proving very helpful in hospitals and quarantine centre settings, where it is helping nurses monitor the health of all patients continuously and remotely,” Dandwate said. “Once set up, Dozee continuously monitors health vitals of patients, without the need for nurses to go to patients to take readings. This keeps our nurses safe from infection, reducing their workload and reducing the requirement of personal protective equipment and sanitisers.”
The startup says that this makes Dozee a very useful tool, particularly for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic Covid-19 cases.
Turtle Shell’s technology is already being used in 7 quarantine centres in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It has also partnered with Duroflex Mattresses and provided more than 200 devices to home quarantine patients.
But the device itself has been around for a while. Dozee was launched in mid-2019, after four years of extensive research and development. The underlying mechanism it uses is called ballistocardiography—a non-invasive method that relies on small vibrations generated by heartbeats and respiration. The monitor can be placed under a patient’s mattress for readings and Dozee’s artificial intelligence engine will pick up relevant information from these vibrations.
Dozee’s AI then builds a personalised health baseline for the individual and then flags any deviations from it. “This has proven life-saving in at least 43 cases, flagging cases of heart failure, pneumonia and tuberculosis in advance,” Dandwate said.
Dandwate and Co-Founder Gaurav Parchani had thought of this idea from their prior experience in the automobile industry where the humming of the engine is used to assess the health of a vehicle. “We thought, why we can’t use the same technology for the human body,” said Dandwate.
The device, which currently costs Rs 7,499 apiece, is produced domestically by third-party manufacturers. It comes bundled with a free app to monitor data on a web-based patient management platform.
Turtle Shell is also ensuring the highest standards for privacy of patient’s health data. “For us at Dozee, privacy and data security are sacrosanct,” Dandwate said. The startup’s servers and databases are in compliance with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in U.S. Besides, it also delinks sensitive personal information from health data and ensures that the ownership of the data lies with the user.
The startup has raised $800,000 till date from angel investment networks. They have also been awarded grants by the Government of India’s biotechnology department and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They are also looking to close another fundraising round over the next couple of months.
Beyond its current offerings, the 23-member team of Dozee, wants to tie up with therapists and nutritionists to help their clients improve healthcare outcomes. They are also working to further aid patients managing chronic illnesses like sleep apnea, anxiety, hypertension and Parkinson's disease.
FICCI Says Agritech Startups Can Keep Supply Chain Moving Amid Lockdown
Agriculture-focussed startups, that are growing at 25 percent annually, can offer tech solutions to help Indian farm sector to keep food and farm supply chain rolling during and after the lockdown, according to a study by industry body Ficci.
This becomes more critical amid the ongoing procurement of rabi crops and consequent sowing of kharif crops across the country in the backdrop of Covid-19 scare, it said.
Highlighting agritech solutions, the study said startups can provide aggregation and distribution of farm produce from point of collection to consumption centres. Many startups are trying to connect farmers with buyers, including retailers, e-commerce, processors, cloud kitchens and even direct to consumers, it said.
Startups working in this area include Ninjacart, Jumbotail, Bigbasket, ShopKirana, SuperZop, WayCool, MeraKisan, Kamatan, DeHaat, KrishiHub, Agrowave, Loop, Crofarm, FreshoKartz, Agribolo, Himkara, Kisan Network.
To provide quality assessment of agricultural commodities, startups like Intellolabs, Agricxlab, Zense, Raav Tech, Occipital, Amvicube and Nanopix are attempting to solve the problem of standardisation through mobile imagery and digitisation.
To address post-harvest challenges, the study said some startups have begun work on near farm, modular and affordable storage and processing solutions.
These storage facilities are intended to give farmers an option to sell the produce at the right price and at the right time, instead of immediate or distressed liquidation of their produce after harvest.
Many of these startups are using satellite images to geo-tag farms, assess crop health and estimate output. They are also building algorithms for farm monitoring and models for artificial intelligence to automate and improve predictably of yield and farmers' incomes, the Ficci study said.
Fitness Startup Fittr Raises $2 Million
Pune-based fitness startup Fittr on Tuesday said it has raised $2 million (over Rs 15 crore) from Sequoia Capital India’s Surge programme.
The company will deploy the pre-series A funds for hiring, technology and overseas expansion, Fittr Co-Founder Jitendra Chouksey said. Surge is the rapid scale-up programme for early-stage startups in India and Southeast Asia.
Founded in January 2016, Fittr (formerly SQUATS Fitness) provides free access to diet and training tools, live fitness sessions with experts, consultation with coaches, and connects users to a community of fitness experts and enthusiasts. With over 8.5 lakh members, the company said it been profitable since inception, achieving a cumulative revenue of $13 million.
Fittr is focussing on markets like India, North America, Indonesia and Singapore, Chouksey said. “Our vision is to become the leading global social platform and marketplace for fitness coaching, and the confidence shown by Surge in this vision is a shot in the arm for Fittr,” he added.
“We have grown organically through word-of-mouth and transformation photos shared by Facebook group members. So far, we have transformed over 1,00,000 people and 30 percent of our user base is global, spread across the U.S., the U.K, Australia, Canada and the UAE,” Fittr Co-Founder Sonal Singh said.
With inputs from PTI
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