1st AI-driven wearable heart monitor to hit market in early 2019

U.K.-based startup Cambridge Heartware has announced the launch of its company and its first product, a wearable heart monitor powered by artificial intelligence, in early 2019.

CEO Rameen Shakur, MD, PhD, also a Cambridge cardiologist and cardiology fellow at MIT, hasn’t disclosed the exact date or even month of release for the company’s Heartsense monitor, a wirelessly chargeable wearable that uses real-time pulse oximetry and three-point electrocardiogram data to monitor patients’ hearts for any irregularities that could signal atrial fibrillation, stroke or cardiovascular disease.

Cambridge Heartware was the brainchild of Shakur and professor Roberto Cipolla of Cambridge’s department of engineering and was born out of their personal experiences, according to a release. In Shakur's words, that makes the Heartsense "the first patient-driven AI wearable device born out of real-life clinical practice, not an engineering lab.”

“The technology and clinical care systems we currently have in place are not picking up atrial fibrillation before someone has a stroke and do not enable us to put preventative treatment in place,” Shakur said. “While there are wearable devices that do general health detection, there is currently no medically-driven device on the market coming out of a clinical practice. There is a critical need for a holistic, multi-input and patient-driven device that takes into account the complex physiology of a patient.”

The Heartsense is ergonomically shaped—the product of Shakur and Cipolla’s combined experience in clinical anatomy and electrophysiology—and its multiple lead ECG, sensitive oxygen sensors and temperature trackers are protected in a waterproof case. Any data the device picks up is wirelessly streamed to the cloud, where adaptive AI algorithms identify clinically relevant irregular rhythms. In a previous statement, Cipolla said the team’s aim “was not to replace the cardiologist, but to give them diagnostic support in real-time.”

Indeed, patients control their own heart data with the Heartsense, and have the option to securely transmit their data to their physicians in real-time via the cloud. Shakur said this is far more convenient than the commonly used Holter monitor, which can cost upwards of $2,500 and produces useful data at a much slower rate.

According to the release, the Heartsense monitor is already undergoing clinical trials in athletic organizations in the U.K. and U.S. and is being distributed in India and Africa to help prevent heart disease and stroke in underserved populations. The device should be available “in early 2019.”

“If you’re wearing an ECG over a long period of time, you’re collecting a huge amount of data,” Shakur said. “Finding an irregularity among all the normal rhythms can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wanted to automate this process, helping the patient to get a diagnosis and start on treatment."