Snap yourself using your smartphone camera and have your vital health signs displayed in under a minute? Though it may sound too good to be true, that is exactly what Nervotec promises its users.
All you have to do is to scan your face and the app will measure your oxygen saturation, heart rate, heart rate variability and stress level. After filling up a symptom checker, a health score is generated on the platform.
However, Nervotec had not always set out to serve to provide health tracking solutions for the public. Initially named Flaiight and started in June 2019 by former fighter pilot Jonathan Lau, the Singapore-based healthtech startup had targeted providing health management and workplace wellness tech solutions to ensure pilots were physically healthy before taking to the skies.
“In the beginning, we used wearable technology and gamified traditional psychometric assessments to generate a flight risk score for pilots. It was in this journey that we discovered that predictive analytics could have applications well beyond the flight assessment context,” shared Lau in an interview with e27.
Having faced difficulties in supplying off-the-shelf tracking wearables to corporations due to high costs and challenges in data collection, Lau shared the Nervotec team decided to develop an in-house solution to solve this issue.
The firm’s Awareness platform consists of two core technologies. The first is remote photoplethysmography (rPPg), which analyses the natural light reflected off a user’s face to detect and process signals that measure their vital signs including heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration and oxygen saturation level.
rPPg leverages computer vision and signal processing to generate vital sign readings on any smartphone camera. The app is compatible with older mobile Operating Systems, including Android 8.0 and iOS 10.
The second core technology is an AI predictive algorithm. Leveraging research in deep learning and neural networks, the algorithm is trained with clinical data from research partners to generate insights. This enables the platform to generate risk scores for “influenza-like illnesses”.
Besides enabling individuals to monitor their long-term health, the score also enables companies to track the physical wellbeing of employees.
Lau claims the accuracy of results on Nervotec’s platform is comparable to lifestyle trackers and smartwatches — which are within the four per cent threshold required for theUS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification.
The startup has filed a local IP patent and is working towards being FDA- and CE-certified.
When asked how the firm handles the personal health data of users, Lau emphasised that Nervotec adopts “internationally-accredited best practices for information security”.
“The entire scanning process is done on the smartphone with no connectivity to a cloud service required. This ensures that no recording of the face takes place and there is no possibility of interception of the measurements taken,” he elaborated.
Assisting firms in tracking employee wellness
He further noted that Nervotec has enabled its client enterprises to overcome health challenges posed by the current pandemic and ensure continued operations of their businesses.
As compared to conventional health tracking devices, Nervotec’s solution has a lower cost of adoption as the platform utilises the personal phone of employees, as compared to purchasing a tracking device outright.
Apart from monitoring vital health signs, the app can also store vaccination and swab tests reports to ensure companies remain compliant to new workplace management measures imposed by authorities.
According to Lau, Nervotec has been well received by firms in the construction industry. Besides signing a proof-of-concept contract with Japan-listed construction conglomerate Kaijima Corporation, it also has other pilot tests with undisclosed companies in the shipping and logistics industry. Lau expects Nervotec’s user base to hit upwards of 20,000 post-pilot.
With global personal health and diagnostics technologies sector valued at close to US$90 billion, health tracking looks set to remain a key concern for governments, businesses, and individuals post-pandemic. With a switch to remote working, companies are placing a greater emphasis on employee wellness and there has been an uptake in digital solutions supporting this shift. Nervotec is looking to capitalise on this growing market.
With S$450,000 (US$399,000) in pre-seed raised from angel investors in September 2020, the startup is now looking to raise its seed round next month.
“For the foreseeable future, developing new technologies that improve public access to affordable and convenient healthcare solutions will continue to be our priority,” Lau signed off as he shared about Nervotec’s future plans.
Image Credit: Nervotec
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