In a brand new and exciting series, we’re spotlighting the startups that are disrupting the wellness industry and driving the trends of tomorrow.
Featuring a diverse group of trailblazers that are challenging norms, breaking down barriers and reshaping the wellness landscape, this month’s cohort is making waves in the emerging TransformativeTech sector — supporting mental health, emotional wellbeing and other aspects of the human experience.
From a sleep-tracking and improvement ring to an AI-powered care system providing employees with emotional support, here Niraj Shah, the UK Lead for Silicon Valley-based Transformative Tech Lab — a central gathering point for the community to stimulate the development of scalable transformative technologies — spotlights the brands of tomorrow.
According to Shah, the TransTech category is rising in prominence as a result of ongoing universal problems around stress, anxiety and insomnia. “Technology offers solutions that are scalable, accessible and more affordable,” he tells Welltodo.
And, as the category grows, he believes it will increasingly integrate itself into the mainstream.
When it comes to future opportunities: “On the consumer side UX (user experience) is key, which is one of the things that has propelled early success stories like Headspace and Calm,” he notes.
“And in workplace wellness it looks like the ability to integrate with existing software and workplace culture will be important factors.”
But for now, keep your eyes peeled on these pioneers that are leading the movement………
Founded in late 2016, British startup OxfordVR has pioneered the use of cutting-edge virtual reality to successfully treat fear of heights. Built on the ground-breaking work of Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University, the rapidly expanding company recently closed a £3.2m investment round and current projects are focused on treatment for OCD and depression.
Taking a cognitive therapy approach, basing therapeutic techniques on a tested theoretical model of each problem, the automated therapy is tailored for each condition, with its efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials.
“Our focus is on developing clinically validated, cost-effective, user-centred treatments for clinical conditions with significant impact on patients, the health system and wider economy. That means targeting complex conditions such as psychosis and social anxiety,” CEO Barnaby Perks, told UKTN.
The Oura Ring by Oura is a beautiful piece of Finnish tech and the world’s most advanced sleep tracker.
Counting Prince Harry as a fan, the smart ring recently surpassed $20m in funding –– the latest round led by Michael Dell’s MSD Capital also featured participation from YouTube Co-Founder Steve Chen and Twitch Co-Founder Kevin Lin. Other investors include Shaquille O’Neil, Lance Armstrong and Will Smith.
The ring, which claims to help the wearer sleep better, does so by measuring the blood volume pulse directly from the palmar arteries of the finger. It detects the amplitude and intensity of the user’s body movement via a 3d accelerometer and gyroscope and uses infrared LEDs to track body temperature. All this combined is used to curate accurate and insightful information that can be actioned to improve sleep performance.
“Oura has identified a challenge that faces us all,” Dell said in a statement. That’s how to get “enough high-quality sleep.”
Currently, the ring ships to more than 100 countries, retailing from $299.
Biobeats, an AI & Biofeedback app has been designed to teach people where their stress comes from and how to manage it.
Founded by Nadeem Kassam, who previously sold advanced wearable watch Basis to Intel for $100m, and Dr David Plans who is the startup’s CEO, the brand raised $3m earlier this year, increasing its total funding to date, to $5m.
“For BioBeats, our vision is to disrupt the way stress is viewed and treated on a global scale,” said Plans in a statement earlier this year. “Our approach focuses on challenging the conventional approach to addressing the pandemic of stress and its relation to mental health, cardiovascular disease, and other poor health outcomes. We are truly at a turning point in the digital health revolution, and this latest round of funding will help us achieve remarkable advances for our platform.”
Targeting the corporate wellness market, the app which consists of coaching, exercises, audio sessions and surveys surfaced by an artificially intelligent (AI) recommender system, utilises user logs and measurements to give recommendations, progress reports and monthly summaries detailing the user’s emotional wellbeing.
It is currently being trialled by companies in the US and UK, including BNP Paribas.
“Brain sensing headband” Muse, is a portable EEG with real-time feedback that aims to take the guesswork out of meditation.
In addition to using sensors to detect the brain’s electrical activity, the device also uses an algorithm to provide real-time audio feedback and actionable data metrics post-session to
establish a meditation practice that can help minimize stress, focus the brain, and improve overall wellbeing.
Having first launched the headband back in 2014, two years after its initial kick starter raised $287,000, Interaxon, the startup behind it has now released the Muse2. The new edition enables the user to track their breathing patterns and heart rate during meditation, the results of which are sent directly to their smartphone.
The startup hopes the new features will encourage users to stick with meditation for the long term.
“If you look at someone who’s used it for weeks or months, there have been some considerable neuroplastic changes from the practice. And you can see it through increased, reaction time, that kind of stuff,” Co-Founder Chris Aimone told Wareable.
Ginger’s AI care system for behavioural health gives users quick access to coaches, therapists and psychiatrists. Backed by $28m in funds, the US startup has an impressive clinical team and recently appointed seasoned entrepreneur Russel Glass as its CEO.
According to Ginger, it is uniquely positioned to provide instant access to support for anyone in need of emotional support, right from their smartphone. Members can start chatting with a coach within 60 seconds of engaging with the app, at any time of day. Coaches are trained to help people with day-to-day challenges, such as reaching personal goals, improving relationships, and reducing stress. And if necessary, Ginger.io can seamlessly escalate a member to therapy or psychiatry.
Recognised as one of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare by Fast Company, hundreds of thousands of people have been given access to Ginger.io to date.