A brand new activity-tracking platform is launching out of stealth at present with $1 million in pre-seed funding, with a view towards serving to these affected by Lengthy COVID monitor 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 tens of millions of individuals globally nonetheless endure long-term results from COVID-19, with research suggesting that wherever between 20% and 40% of those that have contracted COVID-19 expertise ongoing signs corresponding to gentle fatigue, ‘mind fog,’ complications, illness, weak spot and respiratory issues.
The World Well being Group (WHO) estimates that “at the least” 17 million folks 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 attempting 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. Put up-exertional malaise (PEM) describes the worsening of a situation’s signs following even minor bodily exertion, and it’s additionally widespread in ME / Continual Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
One approach to counter the results of PEM is to undertake a “pacing” technique, which entails performing a fragile balancing act between relaxation and exercise. By way of a shopper wearable and smartphone app, Seen desires to assist tens of millions of individuals just do that, and it’s launching the primary a part of its product in open beta at present.
Making the invisible seen
In its preliminary guise, Seen is out there as a free cellular app, with plans to introduce a premium subscription within the U.S. and U.Okay. within the coming months. This can embrace a Polar Verity Sense heart-rate monitor (HRM), designed to be worn on the higher arm to seize the required knowledge passively all through the day.
For now, although, Seen works fully by means of guide knowledge inputs by way of morning and night check-ins. This contains measuring heart-rate variability (HRV) — the time in between every heartbeat — which could be an indicator of an individual’s well being and wellbeing. So how can Seen monitor this when it’s not actively supporting a hear-rate monitor but? Nicely smartphone cameras will help by way of a method referred to as photoplethysmography (PPG), which has been proven to be a considerably efficient various to ECG when it comes to analyzing HRV in people.
Basically, Seen makes use of PPG to detect small modifications in an individual’s pores and skin coloration, with the person putting their finger over the lens of their digital camera for a sixty second interval every morning.
“These modifications enable us to measure the time between heartbeats and calculate coronary heart charge and coronary heart charge variability,” Leeming defined to TechCrunch.
Over time, Seen helps customers monitor their signs and spot traits.
With steady monitoring by way of a bodily HRM, nonetheless, Seen guarantees to be far more practical when it comes to serving to customers undertake an efficient pacing technique, make sure that they don’t over-exert themselves, and permit their our bodies extra time to recuperate.
This can embrace real-time knowledge and notifications when it detects that the person is doing an excessive amount of exercise which might make their current signs worse and curtail restoration.
“This method is per revealed analysis which exhibits that alerts of this type can enhance practical outcomes for folks 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 under a sure threshold, you possibly can keep away from a damaged vitality metabolism response which ends up in exacerbated signs.”
Utilizing knowledge 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 “exhausting numbers” fairly 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 knowledge 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 could present the affect that altering one’s posture has on a change in coronary heart charge.
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 in all probability speaking within the area of round $10 monthly, 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 charge, and there may very well be scope to increase help to gadgets from different producers.
“We anticipate that we’ll help a wider vary of wearable gadgets in future,” Leeming mentioned.
Startups vs. Lengthy COVID
Seen isn’t alone in attempting 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 type 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 review 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 arms after turning into annoyed on the lack of urgency in most of the government-led packages. And there are clear comparisons with Seen’s path to launch at present.
“Lengthy COVID has turned my life the other way up — tens of millions, like me, have nonetheless not recovered from COVID and are struggling every single day,” Leeming mentioned. “There isn’t a clear analysis, 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 are badly wanted – instruments particularly designed for folks residing with Lengthy COVID, but additionally these with equally dismissed power situations like ME/CFS, Continual Lyme and Fibromyalgia.”
It’s additionally price noting right here that Seen customers can decide in to contribute their symptom and biometric knowledge to third-party researchers learning Lengthy COVID. By means of instance, Leeming mentioned that it has a analysis partnership in place with Imperial Faculty London, and it’s working with a workforce of lecturers 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 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 illnesses that we urgently want to raised perceive, and assist sufferers to handle,” Pressure mentioned in a press release 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 information 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 quite a lot of angel backers.
Leeming mentioned that greater than 4,500 folks have been on the waitlist for the Seen app, a quantity it hopes will improve now that it’s formally accessible on Android and iOS.