Hillel's Tech Corner: A hospital the size of a wristwatch

Company: Biobeat. Founded: 2014. Founders: Arik Ben Ishay, Johanan May, Israeli Sarussi. Employees: 12. Capital Raised: $4M.

Biobeat (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Think of the last time you found yourself in a hospital. Try to remember what you saw around you. Monitors. Wires. Heavy machinery. Did it ever occur to you that in 2019, many of those massive machines can easily be replaced by a smaller device with built-in sensors that can be worn on your wrist?
Well, meet , a company based in Petah Tikva that has developed a wearable device that competes and often surpasses the competing device from the world’s leading technology companies.
Biobeat was founded by Arik Ben-Ishay, Johanan May and industry veteran Israel Sarussi in 2014. The idea for the device came to Ben-Ishay, who during his reserve duty as a paramedic in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, was dealing with mass casualties and had a very hard time tracking and reporting the status of individual casualties to medic commanders. Ben-Ishay conceived the idea of location-agnostic medicine – providing hospital level monitoring anywhere.
Ben-Ishay teamed up with May, an accomplished development engineer by day, a community rabbi in Petah Tikva by night, and Sarussi a world-renowned expert in reflective Plethysmography (PPG), which is the technical foundation of the LED sensors on the back of any smart watch.
As opposed to most competitors in the PPG sensor field, the Biobeat team decided not to rely on off-the-shelf sensors, but rather to develop their own sensor to create a truly unique and differentiated product. The basic idea was to develop a sensor with a significant improvement in signal-to-noise ratio compared to existing sensors, thus enabling reading of parameters that are otherwise “buried” in the noise.
This development strategy ended up working, and Biobeat is the first company in the world to offer continuous, non-invasive monitoring of parameters, such as blood pressure and stroke volume (the volume of blood pumped from the left ventricle per beat).
The company has developed and launched two products, a watch intended for chronic care patients and a patch intended for short term monitoring. Both devices offer readings such as blood pressure, stroke volume, cardiac output, respiratory rate, heart rate, temperature, oxygenation, sweat rate, systemic vascular resistance and others. The patch, in addition to these, also offers a one-lead ECG.
The products are intended for the professional medical market, and the company is not targeting the consumer market. Typical uses for these products are monitoring of home-bound chronic patients, ambulatory hospitalized patients (i.e., not bedridden), transitional and complex care (monitoring of patients after dismissal from hospital, post-surgical patients and other patients at risk in the short term).
In addition, the company recently completed airworthiness testing of its patch with British Airways, as a solution for monitoring of patients during medical emergencies in flight.
Biobeat has developed all the necessary software components both for the patient’s smartphone and for the monitoring of multiple patients on a tablet or even monitoring of a full hospital ward using a computer.
The company’s products have been granted CE mark and AMAR from the Health Ministry, and the US FDA has cleared the use of heart rate and oxygenation, while other parameters are currently under review.
Biobeat is a finalist in the Best Wearable Mobile Technology competition at the Mobile World Congress. Their competitors in this competition? The likes of Samsung, Huawei, Accenture and Vodafone.
I had the chance to sit with the team this week and see the device in action. The watch looks like any other smartwatch and watching the vital signs that it monitors in real time makes you feel like you’re in the future. Exit massive monitors and endless wires, enter Biobeat.