February 23rd, 2016
EngSci’s are involved in all three startups!
The rise of smartphones, wearable technology and cloud computing are creating opportunities for a data-based approach to the way individuals understand and monitor their health. Three U of T Engineering startups — MedTek Devices, Pillsy and MedChart — are addressing important challenges, from managing medical information to detecting falls among the elderly.
All three companies were part of the first Start@UTIAS entrepreneurship program cohort at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) in November 2014. Created by a $1-million donation from entrepreneur and alumnus Francis Shen (MASc UTIAS 8T3), the program helps UTIAS graduate students leverage their knowledge and competencies to create business startups. Pillsy and Medchart also received support from The Entrepreneurship Hatchery.
An aging global population has spurred demand for better medical alert systems. Pratik Agrawal (EngSci 1T4, AeroE MEng 1T5) created LifeCare, the flagship product from MedTek Devices, to detect falls among the elderly, a critical health-care challenge in Canada and abroad. READ MORE
Almost half of all unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. occur in women who are using birth control, according to a 2014 report from the Guttmacher Institute. This information inspired the team at Pillsy to develop an innovative product aimed squarely at addressing this issue.
“Birth control pills are one of these types of medication where it’s really important to take your pill at the same time every day,” says Valentin Peretroukhin (EngSci 1T3, AeroE PhD candidate), one of the co-founders and Chief Technology Officer of Pillsy. “The trouble with these types of pills and other types of medication is that the feedback is not immediate at all. You could forget a pill and nothing will happen for potentially a very long time.”
To address this problem, the team developed a smart pouch twinned with a smartphone app. Through a Bluetooth connection, Pillsy registers when a pill is taken and provides feedback regarding effectiveness. The app sends notifications when users forget to take a pill and can also alert users when the Bluetooth connection is severed, indicating that the pouch may have been forgotten.
PillsyPouchStarted by Peretroukhin, Eric Ma (EngSci 1T3, BioMedE MASc candidate) and Tony Zhang (EngSci 1T3, AeroE MASc candidate), the team has expanded over the past year to include Simon Bromberg (EngSci 1T3, BioMedE MASc candidate), Sandra Fiset (MHSc candidate) and Courtney Smith (MPH Epidemiology candidate). READ MORE
Between hospitals, doctors’ offices and the broader medical community, “people have this misconception that there’s this integrated backend system for keeping track of medical information, but that’s a myth,” says MedChart co-founder James Bateman (EngSci 1T3, ECE MASc 1T6, ECE PhD candidate).
Bateman and co-founder Derrick Chow (EngSci 1T3, AeroE MASc 1T6) wanted to create a patient-centred solution that would allow individuals to access their medical records whenever and wherever they wanted. From this idea, MedChart was born, a secure, cloud-based patient portal that houses an individual’s medical records. “We want managing your health online to be as comfortable and commonplace as online banking,” says Bateman. READ MORE