Saks Snacks #7: Eldercare and Home Healthcare, Rockley Photonics, Pay for Fitness Startups, and more
This Week's Snacks: Eldercare and Home Healthcare VC Explosion | What's the fitness metaverse? | Pay for Fitness Startups | Rockley Photonics | Facebook's Future Wearable
Hello friends from San Francisco 👋 ,
Happy Sunday Evening! Let’s get to it. Here are 5 health tech snacks of the week that we’ll explore plus the 6th section to share your feedback and what else you’re most interested in.
📡 Capital Raise Radar - VC Explosion in Eldercare and Home Healthcare
🥑 Snack of the Week - Rise of Pay for Fitness Startups
👨💻Wearable of the Week - Rockley Photonics
👀 Data Privacy - Consumer Wearables vs. Clinical Grade
💡 Big Ideas - what will the fitness metaverse look like?
🎙️ Podcasts of the Week - featuring Will Ahmed & Andrew Huberman
Feedback - last week’s feedback was great! Keep it coming.
📡 Capital Raise Radar
Last week’s Rosita Longevity feature gave a glimpse into an early-stage example of health tech innovation for the aging population.
So far in 2021, VCs have invested > $500M into U.S. startups focused on eldercare and home health care.
Creating tech that helps seniors be active, live their best life and prevent health mishaps while staying at home is critical, backed by 2019 survey data showing that 3 of every 4 older adults want to stay in their homes as long as possible.
2020 provided tailwinds and helped us realize that many things can be done at home, including healthcare, adding to $2.5B of eldercare and home health venture backing.
The concept (and budding sector) of aging in place continues to grow. Below are some startups that recently raised rounds to deliver better at home-care tools:
DUOS, a new senior-focused startup emerged out of stealth in June with $6M in funding. DUOS matches trained personal assistants with older adults to provide companionship, tech help, transportation, and other services.
"It's not surprising that the generation that defied the status quo in their youth is choosing to retain their freedom as they age," said Karl Ulfers, CEO of DUOS. "This ageless generation is the inspiration for DUOS. We recognize that there are millions of older Americans who want to live full lives in their own homes but need assistance with the social determinants of aging (SDoA) that interfere with their independence. At the same time we are tapping into the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. movement to create a workforce of talented and experienced individuals who we are mobilizing as personal assistants for aging. We are confident that this underutilized workforce will be able to overcome the shortage of paid 'caregivers' that exists
Curve Health raised $6M with its platform that combines telemedicine, a health information exchange, predictive analytics, and smart billing
Israel-based Sensi.ai raised $3.5M in March to develop an in-home virtual care agent that can detect, predict, and prevent medical issues
Off shift, Sensi serves as a much-needed safety net, enabling the elderly with the confidence and independence of being on their own, in a safe, monitored environment without compromising their privacy.
🥑 Snack of the Week - Rise of Pay for Fitness Startups
The Rise of Pay for Fitness Startups - startups will continue emerging building strong consumer incentives to make healthier choices. Melody wrapped up how nascent/nonexistent the space is with the quote below:
Pay-for-fitness hasn’t yet caught on at scale, but the segment holds promise, especially considering the explosive success of play-to-earn models in industries like gaming. Looking ahead, a pay-for-fitness upstart collab with wearables like Fitbit or Garmin may well be on the horizon.
💻 Wearable of the Week - Rockley Photonics
This week’s coverage of Rockley Photonics will be the snack before the meal (next edition). The global silicon photonics technology company went public 3 days ago (August 12th, 2021) yesterday via SPAC.
Rockley designs silicon photonic sensors for monitoring a person’s blood using infrared light. The company describes its technology as “significantly more accurate” than LED sensors commonly used in smart wearables.
Rockley’s non-invasive method involves several lasers on a microchip bounced off of a human to measure lactate, alcohol, CGM (glucose), hydration, body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and heart rate.
This will be transformational if the range, accuracy, and efficacy of these sensors are as accurate as claimed in their ability to accurately measure continuous Glucose, blood pressure, core temperature, hydration, muscle lactate, alcohol, etc. via clinical-grade spectroscopy.
Deep analysis of the light scattering will allow items such as hydration, blood pressure, and glucose trends to be closely monitored. Diseases that often develop and worsen due to lack of patient monitoring can be caught much earlier. One simple example is that rather than testing glucose once a day, or wearing an intrusive continuous monitoring device, diabetic people and those with family history can wear a non-intrusive smartwatch. This watch will notify you and any doctor you choose when your glucose levels spike or get too low. You can immediately take corrective action rather than risk diabetic shock.
Not only does Rockley have a protective moat around the business preventing (with proprietary process tech and 122 accepted patents), but none of the current owners wanted to sell (100% of equity was transferred over).
If you’d like to learn more, I recommend this substack on Rockley Photonics.
👀 Data Privacy: Consumer Health & Clinical Grade
The most promising devices in the long-term won’t be basic “fitness” trackers as we might have known them in the past. They’ll be health-focused wearables that can gather clinical-grade patient data and offer doctor-driven diagnoses.
Can we expect our population’s and healthcare’s glaring gaps to be filled by consumer or medical-grade wearables? I believe the answer is both.
It’s getting more difficult to draw definitive lines between the 2 wearable classifications so it’s worthy to revisit the distinctions and update over time:
Consumer Health Wearables - intended for only general wellness and present a low risk to user safety
Clinical Grade Wearables - used in conjunction with expert advice from a health provider.
Where does the line get drawn? Above all else, these devices are data-collection endpoints, and through data science and strong user experience, consumer wearables are acquiring powers to have the impact of clinical-grade devices.
The Rockley example above, and Apple’s $70M contributions to Rockley’s R&D projects to date are early signals that these types of technology will eventually be adopted by consumer tech giants, which I’ll cover more of in future articles.
💡 Big Ideas - successor to the mobile internet?
Facebook will venture into the hardware space with a wearable device. At the last earnings call, Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s first smart glasses launch from Ray-Ban in partnership with Essilor Luxottica.
Zuckerberg is bullish on AR and VR use cases in social media and the larger goal: to build the metaverse.
He expects Facebook to transition from a social media company to a metaverse community in the next ~5 years, per his recent podcast interview.
Zuckerberg defined the metaverse:
“It’s a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think about this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at. We believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile internet.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the metaverse, Matthew Ball’s analysis is a great starting point. It helps visualize what’s to come in the next several decades and points out that the world’s tech giants will pursue this as a macro goal.
While this timeline seems ambitious, It left me thinking, what will the future of the fitness or wellness metaverse look like?
Next edition we’ll cover some of the core metaverse attributes (persistence, synchronicity, unprecedented interoperability) needed to exist to deliver personalized tech, communities, and experiences that improve human health.
🎙️Podcasts of the Week
#2: David Perell hosts Will Ahmed: Founding WHOOP + Future of Wearables
Endnote & Calls to action
Thanks for reading! How’d you like this week’s edition? As always, I welcome any feedback and hope to hear from you.
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Until next time,