Google has reportedly acquired health monitoring startup Senosis Health, according to a report from GeekWire on Sunday. The Seattle-based company had been in the process of raising a series A financing round from leading venture capital firms.
So what exactly does this mean for Google’s healthcare business? On the Senosis website, the company describes itself as follows:
“Senosis seeks to lead a health revolution by providing solutions to measure, diagnose, and manage disease with just a mobile phone. We aim to cover a broad range of conditions on a global scale. We are a unique collection of people with varied backgrounds but a shared vision to drastically improve healthcare.”
The company aims to turn smartphones into medical devices. It has several apps that collect varying health metrics, from detecting jaundice in newborn babies to measuring hemoglobin in the user's bloodstream. For example:
- HemaApp - measures hemoglobin in the blood using a smartphone's camera.
- SpiroCall - a health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function over a phone call.
- OsteoApp - measures bone strength, based on the vibrations that pass through the user's arm, using the smartphone microphone.
- Billicam - uses the smartphone camera to monitor jaundice in newborn babies.
- SpiroSmart - measures lung function by having the patient blow into a phone's microphone.
Senosis was founded by serial entrepreneur Shwetak Patel and four others from the University of Washington. Patel previously sold residential energy monitoring startup Zensi in 2010 and environmental sensor firm WallyHome two years ago.
The global mHealth solutions market is projected to be worth 90.49 billion by 2022, according to a new study from Markets and Markets. The factors expected to drive the growing utilization of mHealth apps and connected health devices are rising penetration of smart gadgets and the need to curtail the soaring healthcare costs.
Google has made significant investments in this area in recent years. For example, they launched DeepMind Health in 2016, which uses artificial intelligence to improve eye diagnoses, cancer screening, and electronic patient record management. Another Google-owned health company, Verily, recent launched a health study in collaboration with Duke University and Stanford Medicine. The study will recruit around 10,000 participants and keep tabs on everything from their biometrics through the use of wearable sensors to their general well-being through smartphone surveys.
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