Tech Startup Raises $35 Million for Vital Signs Sensors

Senior living residents already are using wearable sensors to monitor vital signs, and professional caregivers are starting to leverage user-generated digital health information to provide more timely, personalized services. Now, a startup that could take this practice to the next level has raised $35 million from investors.

The Series B funding comes two years after the Silicon Valley-based company, Scanadu, raised almost $1.7 million from more than 8,500 backers on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. Also in 2013, the company raised $10.5 million in a Series A round. Total funding now is close to $50 million, the company announced Monday.

The initial excitement over Scanadu was related to its maiden product, called the Scout. It is a small device that measures vital signs such as body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure when pressed to a person’s forehead, and it shares those results to an app that can be installed on Android or Apple smartphones. It is priced at $199. It is the first cuff-less blood pressure monitor offered directly to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal.


“Advances in health technology are bringing powerful capabilities to understand our bodies via our smart phones,” said David Wallerstein, chief exploration officer and senior executive vice president of new Scanadu investor Tencent Holdings, in a written statement. “These trends will revolutionize health care over the long-term. Scanadu is leading this trend with innovative and consumer-friendly diagnostic products that deeply leverage the power of smart phone and cloud technologies.”

Already, the Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for the Scout to be tested for its effectiveness, and the company is furnishing the product to its Indiegogo supporters. They will report back to the FDA on their experiences.

Organizations such as the Scripps Translational Science Institute also are studying whether Scout usage leads people to change their health routines, the WSJ reported.


Now, the company is looking to branch out into other realms of home health diagnostics, such as a device that could perform a urine test. Scout would function as a “platform” for taking the data from these various tests and providing it to health care professionals in a unified way, the company’s chief executive and co-founder Walter De Brouwer told the WSJ.

Scanadu is starting trials of a urinalysis product, involving 275 people in the United States and 1,000 in China. The latest funding round signals Scanadu’s intentions to corner that huge market in Asia.

In addition to Tencent Holdings Limited, a Chinese Internet service provider, Fosun International is among the new investors. Fosun is an $88 billion privately owned conglomerate dubbed the “Berkshire Hathaway of China.” Other Series B investors include China Broadband Capital and iGlobe Partners.

The participation of these investors should help Scanadu penetrate the Chinese market, De Brouwer told VentureWire.

Other startups that could disrupt the senior care status quo also recently have raised eye-catching amounts from investors. One of these—a smartphone-enabled service called Honor that aims to revamp how in-home caregivers connect with clients—secured $20 million from a cadre of high-profile investors, including Marc Andreessen.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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