I was at New Jersey Institute of Technology last Thursday for another round of Startupalooza. At this NJ-centric pitchathon, startups of a mostly medical or pharma flavor get to make their case to gathered investors (Jumpstart NJ, DFJ Gotham, Golden Seeds) and other interested parties. After NY Tech Day last month, it was a relief to see something other than peer-to-peer buying or shared social experience apps.
In my brief tour of the booths and desks at Startupalooza, I came upon a medical monitoring watch-like gadget, an inpatient nurse notification tablet, and a GPS-based cellular device for monitoring fleets and teenage driving patterns. All these startups are on the verge of attracting more investment and getting more attention in the marketplace.
Taking it from the top, Vesag focuses on personal medical sensor that can transmit bio-information over a wireless or cellular network. At their desk, I saw their Advanced Medical Watch. Think of it as one of those G-Shock-sized watches but with a built-in GPS, accelerometer, and wireless ZigBee router that links up with other Vesag sensors. The Vesag watch gathers temperature, blood pressure, and EKG, along with location coordinates and then sends this bio data over a cell network to notify doctors, nurses, and caregivers of potential emergencies.
Vesag’s Advanced Medical Watch has obvious applications in hospitals and independent living environments or any other remote monitoring situation. Company founder, Rajendra Sadhu, came up with the idea when he wanted to keep tabs on his elderly parents back in India and view in real-time their vital information. Necessity or distant mothers can be the mother of invention.
NYC-based StarlingHealth has another medical related product, called Starling, that takes on the patient-nurse communications in hospital settings. Anyone who’s ever tried to hail a nurse will readily see the value prop here. Patients are given a touch-sensitive tablet on which common requests for, say, food, medications, and bed adjustments, are represented as icons. Starling aggregates and prioritizes requests from all patients, feeding them to the appropriate nurse or aide, who can the view the medical situation on their own specialized tablet app.
Starling, by the way, will do any necessary language translations–I saw a demo of Spanish to English and back-again at their booth. The Starling back-end system supports workflows with standardized templates so nurses can respond with just a click to take care of the most common requests.
There is lots of competition here, with big players like Hill-Rom and Conexall– don’t ask how I know about them, I just do. But Starling appears to be a less expensive solution and may have a nice market in smaller hospitals or departments within larger institutions.
Global Telematic Solutions was my last stop at Startupalooza. They have a palm-size embedded system that can be used by fleets to monitor driving behaviors of their drivers. The driver, so to speak, behind this product are usage-based insurance polices–they are being offered!–in which insurances rates dynamically reflect driving patterns.
So with GTS’s Data Logger plugged into the truck’s computer system sending telematics through its CDMA chipset, the insurance company can monitor speed limits, mileage, and other behaviors. Good drivers are rewarded with better rates.
Dennis Lottero, VP of Business Development at GTS, mentioned that this same gadget has other applications, especially in the consumer market. Parents can monitor the activity of their teenage drivers, configuring notifications when they use the family car outside of given hours or beyond an electronic fence or over a certain speed. Lottero told me that GTS supports an SDK so that third-party developers can create their own apps.
I had to run out before the formal pitches were made in the evening, so I don’t have the judges final verdicts on this group of startups. Anyway, I’ll go out on a limb by saying that Startupalooza attracts serious, mostly NJ startups that deserve more attention that some of the things I’m seeing on the other side of the river.