A brand new activity-tracking platform is launching out of stealth right this moment with $1 million in pre-seed funding, with a view towards serving to these affected by lengthy COVID monitor and handle their signs.
The worldwide pandemic’s end may be within eyeshot for a lot of, however thousands and thousands of individuals globally nonetheless endure long-term results from COVID-19, with research suggesting that anywhere between 20% and 40% of those who have contracted COVID-19 expertise ongoing signs resembling delicate fatigue, “mind fog,” complications, illness, weak point and respiratory issues.
The World Well being Group (WHO) estimates that “not less than” 17 million people in Europe alone skilled lengthy COVID within the first two years of the pandemic, a determine that rises to as excessive as 145 million globally. However with a lot of the healthcare realm nonetheless making an attempt to piece together the long COVID puzzle, Seen goes to market to assist victims deal with what’s broadly thought-about to be the primary lengthy COVID symptom. Publish-exertional malaise (PEM) describes the worsening of a situation’s signs following even minor bodily exertion, and it’s additionally frequent in ME/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
One solution to counter the consequences of PEM is to undertake a “pacing” technique, which entails performing a fragile balancing act between relaxation and exercise. By means of a client wearable and smartphone app, Seen desires to assist thousands and thousands of individuals do exactly that, and it’s launching the primary a part of its product in open beta right this moment.
Making the invisible seen
In its preliminary guise, Seen is offered as a free cellular app, with plans to introduce a premium subscription within the U.S. and U.Okay. within the coming months. This may embody a Polar Verity Sense heart-rate monitor (HRM), designed to be worn on the higher arm to seize the mandatory information passively all through the day.
For now, although, Seen works completely by handbook information inputs by way of morning and night check-ins. This consists of measuring heart-rate variability (HRV) — the time in between every heartbeat — which can be an indicator of a person’s health and well-being. So how can Seen monitor this when it’s not actively supporting a heart-rate monitor but? Effectively smartphone cameras may help by way of a way known as photoplethysmography (PPG), which has been shown to be a considerably efficient different to ECG by way of analyzing HRV in people.
Primarily, Seen makes use of PPG to detect small adjustments in an individual’s pores and skin shade, with the person inserting their finger over the lens of their digicam for a 60-second interval every morning.
“These adjustments enable us to measure the time between heartbeats and calculate coronary heart price and coronary heart price variability,” Leeming defined to TechCrunch.
Over time, Seen helps customers monitor their signs and spot developments.
With steady monitoring by way of a bodily HRM, nonetheless, Seen guarantees to be far more practical by way of serving to customers undertake an efficient pacing technique, be sure that they don’t over-exert themselves and permit their our bodies extra time to recuperate.
This may embody real-time information and notifications when it detects that the person is doing an excessive amount of exercise that may make their current signs worse and curtail restoration.
“This strategy is per published research, which reveals that alerts of this type can enhance practical outcomes for folks dwelling with post-viral sickness,” Leeming stated. “This works as a result of post-viral sickness leads to a compromised cardio vitality system. By preserving your exercise ranges under a sure threshold, you possibly can keep away from a damaged vitality metabolism response that results in exacerbated signs.”
Utilizing information garnered passively from a wearable permits Seen to generate illness-specific metrics, or digital biomarkers as they’re recognized, which permits folks to make selections primarily based on “onerous numbers” slightly than subjective estimates of the severity of their situation.
For instance, those that pay for a Seen Plus subscription and use the accompanying wearable will profit from accelerometer and gyroscope information from the Polar Verity Sense. This permits Seen to find out issues like “orthostatic intolerance,” or the physique’s organic response from transferring into an upright place from mendacity down. This will present the affect that altering one’s posture has on a change in coronary heart price.
By way of pricing, this has but to be finalized, however Leeming stated that it will likely be within the tough ballpark of different client subscription companies à la Netflix or Spotify. So we’re in all probability speaking within the area of round $10 per 30 days, give or take. If somebody already has their very own Polar Verity Sense armband, Seen says it should provide the subscription at a reduction price, and there could possibly be scope to increase help to gadgets from different producers.
“We anticipate that we’ll help a wider vary of wearable gadgets sooner or later,” Leeming stated.
Startups vs. lengthy COVID
Seen isn’t alone in making an attempt to expedite lengthy COVID therapies and analysis, as we’ve seen a number of new ventures arrive on the scene over the previous couple of years. A type of is a nonprofit startup known as the Lengthy COVID Analysis Initiative (LCRI) which recently launched with $15 million in funding from Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin to review and develop therapies for lengthy COVID. The LCRI was kickstarted by a Googler and lengthy COVID sufferer who determined to take issues into his personal fingers after changing into pissed off on the lack of urgency in most of the government-led packages. And there are clear comparisons with Seen’s path to launch right this moment.
“Lengthy COVID has turned my life the wrong way up — thousands and thousands, like me, have nonetheless not recovered from COVID and are struggling each day,” Leeming stated. “There isn’t a clear prognosis, no pharmaceutical remedy and little recognition from the federal government as to how widespread and the way life-changing these circumstances are. Sufferers like myself have little possibility however to construct the illness administration instruments which might be badly wanted — instruments particularly designed for folks dwelling with lengthy COVID, but in addition these with equally dismissed persistent circumstances like ME/CFS, persistent Lyme and fibromyalgia.”
It’s additionally price noting right here that Seen customers can decide in to contribute their symptom and biometric information to third-party researchers learning lengthy COVID. By the use of instance, Leeming stated that it has a analysis partnership in place with Imperial Faculty London, and it’s working with a workforce of teachers who’re at the moment researching the affect of the menstrual cycle on lengthy COVID signs. Seen additionally has an advisory board of specialists in post-viral circumstances, together with Dr. David Putrino who’s director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai, and Dr. David Strain, medical advisor at ActionForME, U.Okay.
“Lengthy COVID and ME/CFS are extremely debilitating and widespread illnesses that we urgently want to raised perceive and assist sufferers to handle,” Pressure stated in an announcement issued to TechCrunch. “Seen is the primary instrument to actually assist sufferers to measure and handle their very own illness utilizing solely their smartphone. Simply as importantly, it will likely be instrumental in serving to clinicians and researchers advance our data of the illnesses too.”
Seen’s pre-seed spherical of funding was co-led by Octopus Ventures, Calm/Storm and Hustle Fund, with participation from a lot of angel backers.