BOSTON, Feb. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Empatica is proud to announce its partnership with the U.S. Government's BARDA Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe), under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to collaborate on the development of a new smart watch which will alert users when they are developing a serious respiratory infection, before any symptoms appear.
The new smart watch will be based on the technology of Empatica's FDA-cleared Embrace2, a smart watch widely worn by people living with epilepsy. Embrace2 uses advanced machine learning to monitor physiological signals, detect any unusual patterns and immediately notify caregivers in the case of possible convulsive seizures. The partnership with DRIVe will utilize this technology to evaluate health signatures that can predict pathogen exposures prior to the manifestation of any symptoms, and alert the user and any caregivers.
Empatica CEO and co-founder, Matteo Lai, stated: "Our team is very honored to support this ambitious project: it's a great opportunity to produce novel science and products to potentially help millions of patients in the US and around the world. It is also a sign of inspired leadership by DRIVe's team, with its deliberate vision to support technology at the service of better healthcare."
Faster treatment and prevention
This Powered by DRIVe project is part of DRIVe's Early Notification to Act Control and Treat (ENACT) portfolio. Products developed under ENACT aim to empower people by letting them know they are sick before the first symptom appears, encouraging early treatment and potentially reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Until symptoms appear, it is difficult for the person at risk or the caregiver to be able to know and take action. Additionally, infectious disease trends are not known, which means prediction is not easy." (Chae et al., 2017)
The predictive capabilities that will be developed create a unique opportunity for individuals, caregivers and health care professionals to be able to identify people at high-risk, in real time, enabling faster treatment and prevention, which can in turn further reduce transmission.
The impact of respiratory infections in the U.S. and beyond
Approximately 1.25 million people in the US are hospitalized every year as a result of community-acquired respiratory tract infections, and their care costs amount to more than $4 billion. Meanwhile, although harder to calculate, the indirect cost of these infections is estimated to be higher, with income losses for those missing work due to illness rounding up at $9 billion. More recent estimates by the World Health Organization put the cost of influenza epidemics to the U.S. economy at $71-167 billion per year, while in 2017-18 the country had a record number of flu deaths.
This impact is magnified on a global scale. In 2013, lower respiratory tract infections caused more than 2·6 million deaths worldwide, making them the fifth leading cause of death overall and the leading infectious cause of death in children younger than 5 years. Meanwhile, acute respiratory infections are the world's third leading cause of death after heart disease and stroke.
Preventing the next epidemic
Historically, some of the world's biggest epidemics have been respiratory-related. The Institute for Disease Modeling, founded by Bill Gates, estimates that a new flu similar to the Spanish flu that killed 50 million people in the 1918 pandemic would now most likely kill 30 million people within six months. Rapid diagnosis — specifically prediction - is essential in initiating the first step towards fighting the disease.
The example of Embrace2 in epilepsy demonstrates that innovative wearable technologies can offer the capability to ensure prompt attention to serious health issues, which can even save lives. Empatica hopes that through the partnership with DRIVe, this capability will be expanded to other fields.
"Imagine if your future smart watch could tell you your body is fighting sickness before you have any obvious symptoms— and that if you go to sleep two hours early tonight and drink a special beverage you would have 70% less chance of coming down with the flu tomorrow — how would your life be improved? Multiply that by 49M people in the U.S. who had influenza in 2018 — how would our world be improved? " Empatica co-founder, chief scientist, and MIT professor Rosalind Picard.
Empatica Inc is a MIT Media Lab Spin off, with offices in Boston, MA and Milan, Italy. It has 65 employees and designs everything in house (Hardware, Software, Algorithms). Empatica develops medical wearables that utilize machine learning and an intricate combination of biosensors to unlock the physiology of people's health. Empatica's Embrace is the first smart watch to be cleared by the FDA in the field of neurology. It has been approved in Europe as a medical device to monitor seizures and alert since April 2017. The company also manufactures a research device, the E4 wristband, sold to thousands of institutional partners, including the world's top hospitals, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. It is used in studies for stress, sleep, migraine, depression, and many other conditions. Visit Empatica's website at http://www.empatica.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Transforming Health Security: DRIVe strives to saves lives by investing in transformational products and technologies to better protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. DRIVe was established in June 2018 to transform health security innovation to protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. DRIVe's business-friendly EZ-BAA application process streamlines the ways government partners with industry.
SOURCE Empatica Inc