Startups from throughout the Los Angeles area made a strong showing at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where they touted devices from some of the hottest product categories, including fitness and medical wearables, smart home, virtual reality (VR) and eco-friendly personal transportation.
Aside from VR, the common thread among many of their devices are connective capabilities that allow them to work in conjunction with smartphones and other mobile devices.
Premature births continue to happen at an alarming rate in the U.S., and Irvine-based TinyKicks is out to cut down on the problem, France Dixon Helfer, its CEO and president, told us at CES. She pointed to data showing that one in nine births is premature and said the pandemic has resulted in a wide variety of problems, including high medical expenses and long-term health issues for the baby.
The company is developing wireless healthcare monitors to safely, effectively and inexpensively track fetal movement as well as uterine contractions and breathing in pregnant women. Its initial device is the eMotion Fetal Activity Monitor, a patented system for monitoring fetal kicks and fetal movement. The device will ship in the fourth quarter of this year and “we’re looking at $150 to $200 for a full kit” including 16 weeks of disposable sensors that the pregnant woman would wear, Helfer said. They will work in conjunction with a mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows devices, she told us. The initial launch will be “very limited,” focusing on Southern California, and a “full-blown launch” will follow in 2018, she said.
The company actively collected data from pregnant women in 2016 with the objectives of proving the technology worked and improving the sensors. The nanosensor technology was developed and spun out of the University of California, Irvine, and TinyKicks is located in the EvoNexus Startup Incubator facility in Irvine, Helfer said. About $2.5 million in funds from parties including the National Institutes of Health were granted to develop the core technology, and the company raised $600,000 in a seed round of funding. It’s actively raising debt financing of up to $750,000 to bridge it to a spring series A round that Helfer said will be used for manufacturing operations, pre-launch marketing, sales programs and the product launch.
Up next from TinyKicks will be a BABeSense Infant Activity Monitor a year after the fetal monitor. The company is already developing that product now, she said, explaining that will be a wearable device that the baby would wear and will include an accelerometer and gyroscope to track the infant’s movements. Material being considered to attach the small device to babies includes Velcro, she said.