Image source: Aktiia

Swiss startup Aktiia raises $6.1 to develop optical blood pressure monitor

Aktiia has raised $6.1 million in a second funding round, in a bid to commercialize its wrist-based optical Blood Pressure Monitor (BMP),

Essential reading: Top smart blood pressure monitors

This follows the $4.1 million raised in an initial 2018 round. Companies that participated in the latest fund raising effort include Translink Capital, Investiere, Libra, Christian Wenger, Spark Street Capital and Barbaric Holdings.

Many adults are affected by hypertension, but as many as one in three can be unaware of a problem. They feel the odd twinge or headache, but simply put this down to feeling a little under the weather. And this is the paradox of the condition and the reason high blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer.

Home BPMs can be quite useful. Taking regular measurements is particularly important as you get older, as the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can build up over time.

swiss startup aims to kickstart optical revolution for blood pressure monitoring e1585307832578 - Swiss startup Aktiia raises $6.1 to develop optical blood pressure monitor
Image source: Aktiia

Whether they are smart or traditional, BPMs typically come in one two forms – those for the upper arm, and those for the wrist. Both employ inflatable cuff technology, although blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist may be less accurate. That is because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the forearm.

This is all well and good and works fairly well. But we have yet to see a company come up with a fitness tracker or smartwatch that can do this. There is lots of stirring in this area, though.

There is, of course, the Omron HeartGuide. But this is a watch-sized sphygmanometer so does not use optical sensors. Omron has filed more than 80 new patents to create the thing.

swiss startup aims to kickstart optical revolution for blood pressure monitoring 1 - Swiss startup Aktiia raises $6.1 to develop optical blood pressure monitor
Image source: Aktiia

The Aktiia system uses common optical sensors and proprietary algorithms to measure an individual’s blood pressure at the wrist. The monitoring is continuous so users can see how their blood pressure changes at different times of the day.

“We are going to create a precise, affordable tool that is certified by the health authorities,” says Mattia Bertschi, co-founder and CEO of this new company.

“The potential of this type of product has enabled us to quickly attract a solid base of investors. The sphygmomanometer 2.0 also aims to improve the prevention of hypertension, to better understand its causes, and to develop new approaches to treating it.”

Fitness trackers and smartwatches can count steps, calories, distance and heart rate, but its fair to say its been a while since we’ve seen something truly new on the sensor front. Blood pressure, sweat and hydration sensors seem to be just around the corner. The commercialization of these new sensors and integration into the likes of Fitbit, Garmin and Apple will, no doubt, reinvigorate interest from existing and new customers.

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