SenceBand, created by Planexta Inc., is one of the loudest startups not only in Ukraine but in the whole world. It made itself known in 2016. The mood-tracking smartband that can prevent depression and potentially save lives skyrocketed on Kickstarter. Today, DNA325 would like to share an interview with its creator, CEO, Eugene Nayshtetik, with you.
How did the idea of SenceBand emerge? How did the social constituent of the project appear?
The idea of the SenceBand (SENsing Certain Emotions band) emerged during an unprecedented electrocardio screening in Ukraine. Stress is one of the major factors of development of a wide range of diseases, and during the screening process, we saw how dramatically it shortens lives. Apart from that, pre-nosological diagnostics with the help of the analysis of the heart rate variability proved to be so effective that we decided to create a wearable. However, prior to Sence, there hasn’t been a comfortable wearable that could independently collect raw data with the electrocardiogram accuracy. That’s how we decided to create a unique product.
Do you think Sence technology can be used in healthcare?
At first, we were just a small team. Later, we made some successful tests, got investments and expanded. Sence is the first appliance in the line of products. We conscientiously went to the consumer segment with a rather exotic range of application, because we understood that there is much work to be done before we can introduce our product to medicine. We need to perform clinical studies, register medical evidence and certify the medical device manufacturing. Still, initially we aimed at medicine. Besides, we have wonderful dynamics. Apart from registering electrocardiogram R-peaks from one hand, we learned how to register P-waves, and it gave us an opportunity to perform an early diagnosis of Myocardial Infarction (40 minutes ahead), diagnose atrioventricular blocks, ischemia and risks of a sudden cardiac death. Having united the electrocardiographic, photoplethysmographic and ballistocardiographic sensor markers, we successfully held an experiment on accurate cuffless arterial blood pressure check. With the help of this technology, the world will be able to abandon the archaic blood pressure monitors and check the arterial blood pressure with the help of hand gadgets with medical accuracy. We also created a basis for a cloud service of automated interpretation of any electrocardiogram files. It will enable reaching the technology, which improves the physician’s efficiency 7 times in average. We have a range of other awesome accumulated work results, but it’s too early to talk about them.
How can someone benefit from using SenceBand?
Coming back to Sence, I’d like to say that accurate understanding of one’s own psycho-emotional state enhances emotional intellect. It not only gives an opportunity to leverage one’s adaptive and social skills, but also lets you understand your native and close people better, become a more attentive and responsible partner as well.
Who are the target Sence users? How will the band help its users facilitate the quality of their lives?
As for now, the SenceBand is pre-ordered by 810 backers from 57 countries. The motifs vary greatly. Someone wants to evaluate the effectiveness of their yoga classes, someone is worried about their parents, someone wants to have an emotional diary of their travelling around the world. There are people who want to identify the stress factors in their lives, the “places of force” and positive social circles. We don’t really pay attention to those things in our everyday life. The heart rate variability analysis gives us an opportunity to evaluate the state of the autonomous nervous system precisely.
Some of the people, who pre-ordered the SenceBand, just wanted an accurate fitness tracker. We created the world’s first electrocardiographic tracker for one hand. Many people complained that the regular PPG-sensors lack precision. As for the heart rate variability analysis, the only source of data for this analysis is electrocardiogram, according to all standards. Any attempts to use an optical sensor for this purpose failed.
What about the app? For what platforms will the Sence app be available? What should we expect to get in the first version?
The first app, which we called SenceHub, will be available for iOS and Android smartphones. The app will measure the stress level, exhaustion level, cardio threat, sleep control and 64 psychoemotional patterns. All this data will be synchronized with a map and a calendar. There will also be dashboards. What’s more, during the first days, the app will be getting acquainted with you to understand which patterns correspond to which psychoemotional state of yours. Our task is to make the band understand you better than you do 🙂
Will the personal information of the users be protected? How is the data, received from the band, processed?
The app will be social and you will be able to connect those people who you care about and share your data with them. Of course, all of the actions will be performed only by the user’s permission, and the strong control of personal data safety will be performed. We will not use any personal data for any studies, as the cloud infrastructure works only with maths, without identifying personal data.
Did you receive any feedback about your product so far?
We received a very serious feedback from psychiatrists, psychologists and anesthesiologists. The thing is, heart rate variability analysis is an established method of diagnosing depression, pain and many others conditions. Currently, http://pubmed.gov/ has over 8 thousand articles that have examples of heart rate variability analysis usage. Before us, the application of this method was limited by ECG machines and holters. In point of fact, we broadened the application sphere substantially.
Over time, do you plan to add any more useful functions to the band?
Now we are working on creating a smartwatch for monitoring health parameters. Many people complained that the band lacks interface, that they want to interact without a smartphone and cannot do it. Besides, as I told, we solved the problem of bandless arterial blood pressure check and early diagnosis of Myocardial Infarction. We want to combine all this, together with the saturation and body temperature measurements together with the habitual function of a smartwatch in one device with a 46х46 mm screen. We hope that we will manage to do it by the end of the next year.
How many people work on Sence project now?
In general, 87 people took part in the creation of SenceBand.
Tell more about your team. Does it consist of Ukrainians only, or are there any foreign specialists?
From east to west it looked as follows: The Singapore team of Stuck, one of the best studios in the world, worked on the industrial design. All of the engineer activities and the development of math methods were performed in Ukraine. First of all, it’s our Platform 20K, located in Dnipro, where 18 people work under the guidance of Tetiana Botsva. Cherkasy team of Viktor Yevpak, from a company called eKreative, creates the mobile app. Managerial staff, including colleagues of our corporate fund “Rozvytok ta protsvitannia” (Development and Prosperity), which has to build the research infrastructure, are located in Kyiv. Our partners from Holland Global Health Resolution Finance Services B.V. are located further to the west. They help to accelerate the launch of our technologies in the field. Our partners from BeSure Online are also in the west, we work with them on early diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. Across the ocean, in New York, is our patent counsel, and our marketing team Beyond Nature is in Toronto. The company itself is registered in Los Angeles. Two people work there now.
What advice can you give to young startups who are getting ready to launch a campaign?
Advice? You know, if we followed any advice, most likely we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. Many people predicted that we would fail back in September. Now, we finished a Kickstarter campaign successfully and attracted interest of dozens manufacturers of the world. Now, we are preparing to move over to the routine work of an R&D company. That’s why our advice is simple. You should do what you are sure in and what you believe is right. And, of course, work hard!