A brand new activity-tracking platform is launching out of stealth in the present day with $1 million in pre-seed funding, with a view towards serving to these affected by Lengthy COVID observe and handle their signs.
Seen, as the corporate is known as, is the brainchild of Harry Leeming, a London-based engineer who says he has suffered from Lengthy COVID for the previous two years, and Luke Martin-Fuller.
The worldwide pandemic’s finish could also be inside eyeshot for a lot of, however hundreds of thousands of individuals globally nonetheless undergo long-term results from COVID-19, with research suggesting that anyplace between 20% and 40% of those that have contracted COVID-19 expertise ongoing signs comparable to delicate fatigue, ‘mind fog,’ complications, illness, weak point and respiratory issues.
The World Well being Group (WHO) estimates that “no less than” 17 million individuals 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 collectively the Lengthy COVID puzzle, Seen goes to market to assist victims handle what’s extensively thought of to be the primary Lengthy COVID symptom. Submit-exertional malaise (PEM) describes the worsening of a situation’s signs following even minor bodily exertion, and it’s additionally frequent in ME / Persistent Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
One method to counter the results of PEM is to undertake a “pacing” technique, which entails performing a fragile balancing act between relaxation and exercise. By means of a shopper wearable and smartphone app, Seen needs to assist hundreds of thousands of individuals do exactly that, and it’s launching the primary a part of its product in open beta in the present day.
Making the invisible seen
In its preliminary guise, Seen is accessible 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 totally via guide information inputs through morning and night check-ins. This consists of measuring heart-rate variability (HRV) — the time in between every heartbeat — which might be an indicator of an individual’s well being and wellbeing. So how can Seen observe this when it’s not actively supporting a hear-rate monitor but? Properly smartphone cameras may also help through a method referred to as photoplethysmography (PPG), which has been proven to be a considerably efficient different to ECG by way of analyzing HRV in people.
Primarily, Seen makes use of PPG to detect small modifications in an individual’s pores and skin shade, with the person inserting their finger over the lens of their digicam for a sixty second interval every morning.
“These modifications permit us to measure the time between heartbeats and calculate coronary heart fee and coronary heart fee variability,” Leeming defined to TechCrunch.
Over time, Seen helps customers observe their signs and spot tendencies.
With steady monitoring through a bodily HRM, nonetheless, Seen guarantees to be far simpler 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 get better.
This may embody real-time information and notifications when it detects that the person is doing an excessive amount of exercise which may make their current signs worse and curtail restoration.
“This strategy is according to revealed analysis which exhibits that alerts of this sort can enhance practical outcomes for individuals residing with post-viral sickness,” Leeming mentioned. “This works as a result of post-viral sickness results in a compromised cardio vitality system. By conserving your exercise ranges beneath a sure threshold, you possibly can keep away from a damaged vitality metabolism response which 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 individuals to make choices primarily based on “arduous 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 enables Seen to find out issues like “orthostatic intolerance,” or the physique’s organic response from shifting into an upright place from mendacity down. This may present the influence that altering one’s posture has on a change in coronary heart fee.
By way of pricing, this has but to be finalized, however Leeming mentioned that will probably be within the tough ballpark of different shopper subscription companies à la Netflix or Spotify. So we’re most likely speaking within the area of round $10 per thirty days, give or take. If somebody already has their very own Polar Verity Sense armband, Seen says it’s going to provide the subscription at a reduction fee, and there could possibly be scope to increase help to gadgets from different producers.
“We anticipate that we are going to help a wider vary of wearable gadgets in future,” Leeming mentioned.
Startups vs. Lengthy COVID
Seen isn’t alone in making an attempt to expedite Lengthy COVID remedies and analysis, as we’ve seen quite a lot of new ventures arrive on the scene over the previous couple of years. A kind of is a non-profit startup referred to as the Lengthy Covid Analysis Initiative (LCRI) which lately launched with $15 million in funding from Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin to check and develop remedies for Lengthy COVID. The LCRI was kickstarted by a Googler and Lengthy COVID sufferer who determined to take issues into his personal palms after turning into annoyed on the lack of urgency in lots of the government-led packages. And there are clear comparisons with Seen’s path to launch in the present day.
“Lengthy COVID has turned my life the other way up — hundreds of thousands, like me, have nonetheless not recovered from COVID and are struggling daily,” Leeming mentioned. “There isn’t a clear prognosis, no pharmaceutical therapy, and little recognition from the federal government as to how widespread and the way life-changing these situations are. Sufferers like myself have little possibility however to construct the illness administration instruments which can be badly wanted – instruments particularly designed for individuals residing with Lengthy COVID, but additionally these with equally dismissed persistent situations like ME/CFS, Persistent Lyme and Fibromyalgia.”
It’s additionally value noting right here that Seen customers can decide in to contribute their symptom and biometric information to third-party researchers finding out Lengthy COVID. By the use of instance, Leeming mentioned that it has a analysis partnership in place with Imperial School London, and it’s working with a group of teachers who’re at the moment researching the influence of the menstrual cycle on Lengthy COVID signs. Seen additionally has an advisory board of specialists in post-viral situations, together with Dr. David Putrino who’s director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai, and Dr. David Pressure, medical advisor at ActionForME, U.Okay.
“Lengthy Covid and ME/CFS are extremely debilitating and widespread ailments that we urgently want to raised perceive, and assist sufferers to handle,” Pressure mentioned in an announcement issued to TechCrunch. “Seen is the primary device to essentially assist sufferers to measure and handle their very own illness utilizing solely their smartphone. Simply as importantly, will probably be instrumental in serving to clinicians and researchers advance our data of the ailments too.”
Seen’s pre-seed spherical of funding was co-led by Octopus Ventures, Calm/Storm and Hustle Fund, with participation from quite a lot of angel backers.
Leeming mentioned that greater than 4,500 individuals had been on the waitlist for the Seen app, a quantity it hopes will enhance now that it’s formally accessible on Android and iOS.