Nest has been revealed as the buyer of startup Senosis Health
In a bid to enter into the digital healthcare market, automation business Nest quietly acquired startup Senosis Health in 2017, which utilises sensors to transform everyday digital tools, such as a smartphone, into a digital health commodity.
The company has still not revealed this news to the word, which has recently been obtained through GeekWire via a public records request. Google has also remained silent on the acquisition, leading tech enthusiasts to question the reasons behind the deal.
Through the request, it has been found that Nest formally requested that staff were not to use the company’s name in relation to the deal, or for any external party to publicise this in any way.
"It turns out Nest is much more secretive than the rest of Google or Alphabet," Senosis co-founder Shwetak Patel stated in email to Director of Innovation Development at University of Washington, Fiona Wills.
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"They seem to be particularly sensitive in this situation since they don't want people to know they are getting into a whole new line of business, digital health, until they are ready to publicly announce," he added.
Since the deal, Senosis has merged with Google’s hardware unit and its Google Home division, which is responsible for the development of smart gadgets, such as smart speakers. The company’s products range from app to check a user’s haemoglobin count through a smartphone camera.
Named HemaApp, the SpiroSmart technology also utilises the microphone app to measure lung capacity and overall function when looking to diagnose conditions such as asthma. A third is checking for newborn jaundice.
However, recent reports by CNBC have found that Nest are looking at ways to target the growing ageing population, noting that this market is set to grow further in the next 20 years. The use of motion sensors could become an essential way of supporting those remain in their homes, as well as automatic lighting if users have a fall in the night time.
Tech giants, such as Amazon, Apple, Fitbit and Google, with its division Verily, are all also looking at this lucrative market by developing new consumer technologies.
Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”