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Last month, PlasticsToday reported on the winner of the $525,000 Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE Grand Prize: a portable in vitro diagnostic device that can run hundreds of clinical lab tests on a single drop of blood developed by DNA Medicine Institute (Cambridge, MA).

Norbert Sparrow

December 1, 2014

3 Min Read
Swiss medtech company earns XCHALLENGE award for wearables that don't wear out their welcome

Last month, PlasticsToday reported on the winner of the $525,000 Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE Grand Prize: a portable in vitro diagnostic device that can run hundreds of clinical lab tests on a single drop of blood developed by DNA Medicine Institute (Cambridge, MA). The panel of jurors also presented $120,000 Distinguished Award prizes to five runners-up with (almost) equally innovative technologies. One of them was Switzerland-based Biovotion (Zürich), which was recognized for its clinical-grade physiological multisensor platform, remarkably simple user interface, and application versatility. CEO Andreas Caduff shared some thoughts on wearable health technology with PlasticsToday.

Described as a "hospital on the arm," Biovotion's vital signs monitoring system pairs a comfortable, user-friendly wearable device with cloud-based services and applications. Its sensing technology provides continuous, noninvasive monitoring of patients with chronic conditions and can be the foundation for next-generation homecare products. Key attributes include ease of use—there are no buttons to push or calibration procedures to perform—and, equally important, user comfort. As a recent report from PwC noted, 33% of surveyed consumers who purchased a wearable device more than one year ago say they no longer use it or use it infrequently. The reasons so many consumers abandon these products typically involve comfort and ease of use, two issues that have Biovotion's undivided attention.

"Wearable devices that are not worn are useless," says Caduff, who has made it his mission to ensure that wearable health technology is a commitment, not a fad. "Wrist-worn devices that are monitoring more than just acceleration have to be worn fairly tightly to provide meaningful data, and this quickly becomes uncomfortable for the user, particularly if the offered value does not provide enough benefit to justify the discomfort." Biovotion has devoted significant resources and expertise to the development of wearable devices that users need to wear, and want to keep wearing. That begins with the device-to-skin interface.

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Biovotion CEO Andreas Caduff.

"Biovotion has extensively tested, developed, and fine-tuned [device] attachment concepts, arriving at an attachment modality on the upper arm that involves skin-tolerant elastic materials in combination with different skin-tolerant plastics," explains Caduff. These devices have been worn by patients with chronic conditions as well as healthy individuals under real-life conditions for extended periods of time for up to four years, according to Caduff. The devices are both comfortable and easy to use, he stresses, two features that are instrumental in ensuring user compliance. "There are, literally, no buttons to push and no adjustable parts or elements [to fiddle with]," says Caduff. The sophistication is inside the device, where it should be.

Caduff has held various positions at medical device and pharmaceutical companies over the years and is a recognized expert in physiological monitoring. Biovotion holds 15 patents related to wearable monitoring technology and was recently invited to a workshop at the White House to brainstorm solutions for improving the safety of healthcare workers treating Ebola patients in West Africa. The company contributed its expertise in a discussion on wearable monitoring devices under challenging conditions (i.e., when wearing heavy personal protective gear).

Biovotion's technology is available under co-development and licensing deals, and for contract research related to use of the multisensing technology in existing products.

The other four recipients of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE Distinguished Awards were Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing (Minneapolis, MN), Eigen Lifescience (Stanford, CA), GUES (London, UK), and Endotronix Wireless Health Monitoring (Woodridge, IL). For more information about these companies, go to the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE website.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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