Canadian startup specializes in wearables data analysis

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This month Apple announced the April release of its Apple Watch, and that is just the latest entry in the growing world of wearable tech. As these devices become more widespread, there’s an expanding market for companies that can utilize the data generated by these devices.

Vivametrica is getting in on the ground floor with this rising trend. A Calgary-based tech startup, it specializes in wearable tech data analysis in the health and wellness space—a niche that no one else has caught on to yet.

For businesses, there are many applications for wearables and Vivametrica hopes to make those benefits plain to identify.

We spoke with Vivametrica founder and CEO Dr. Richard Hu, and president Scott Valentine, to get deeper insight into what their company does and what it can do for businesses adopting wearable tech in their own operations.

“The wearable space is expanding and this is one of the ways that you can add value to it, by adding some additional data analysis,” says Valentine. “Once you have the devices you’ve got to do something with them and with many, many devices being sold we saw that opportunity.”

Data collection is the first stage in what they do, and Vivametrica collects data from a wide range of sources. “That’s actually our secret sauce,” says Dr. Hu with a hearty laugh. Data sources include publicly available health surveys, university studies which they use for special cases, other private companies that collaborate with them on research projects, and some of their own research conducted over the years.

Vivametrica is also looking into including other types of data sets such as GPS, weather, and info from people’s social media streams. All these things can somehow relate to determining individual health risks. Some of the risks they look at include heart disease, lung disease, arthritis and diabetes, to name a few.

There is a tremendous amount of data to be collected and analyzed, so how does one go about extracting meaningful conclusions from it? Vivametrica creates its own algorithms. Designing effective ones, however, is the primary challenge.

Dr. Hu explains, “Data scientists without experience in biophysical analysis can create many different relationships and calculations, but if they don’t have the experience of understanding the biological effects and adjustments that you have to make for your calculations, they come up with erroneous data. It may be statistically correct, but it doesn’t meet the standard of health assessment level of analysis.”

At Vivametrica, they have the right experts on board bringing the necessary knowledge and experience to the team.

For companies looking into having their employees use wearable devices, Vivametrica’s algorithms can determine health risks for individual workers and provide guidance in creating a health and wellness program. Healthy workers are happier and more productive, so companies today are realizing that there must be a balance between work and life.

Some enterprises spend billions each year on their health and wellness programs, but the problem is figuring out where that investment is going. One of the chief applications of Vivametrica’s analysis is in quantifying the effectiveness of a business’s program because just having one isn’t enough. A company needs to have the most useful program possible to obtain the desired results. If properly implemented, there is a significant ROI.

“If we can show through our analytics that if a business creates a health and wellness program that targets diabetes by asking them to reduce their risks, then that gets to a very concrete data point that every enterprise can understand,” says Valentine.

Valentine also says that Vivametrica conducted a survey last year about enterprise health and wellness. The results were revealing.

“It came back that they have two chief concerns moving into the future,” Valentine says. “Number one is to calculate risk for individual chronic disease, which is right in our wheelhouse. The other is this realization that wearables are producing all this data, and they realize there is value in that data, but they aren’t sure how to use it and what tools they need. Our analytics goes to the next layer and starts to reveal some business value in that data.”

Vivametrica has been incorporated for two years, so it’s still very young. In October 2014 they closed a round of seed funding, and right now it’s in another funding round and looking for angel investors. The firm is also starting to generate its own revenue, and has big plans for the future.

Over the next three quarters they will be launching what they describe as a “Vivametrica inside model.” The company will be looking into a series of market entries into the health and wellness space, such as mobile apps that come with wearable devices. Vivametrica will license their technology so a wearable provider could offer data analysis as a value-added service.

It may not be long until wearables like the Apple Watch become as common as the iPhone. Then we will all be wearing devices with health analysis components, assisting us in adjusting lifestyle habits to improve our own well being. For a business looking for ways to support its own employee’s health, and therefore bolster its productivity, the future is bright.

Photo via Fitbit

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