Editor’s note: The next wave in healthcare is here. And Triangle firms are cashing in. From sensors loaded in earbuds to monitor your health to technology designed to ease the burdens of transcriptions on doctors to helping ailing people better control their homes – all were showcased at the CED’s Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh. WRAL TechWire’s Allan Maurer has the inside story. And check out the photo slideshow from WRAL’s Kelly Hinchcliffe.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Chances are that if you have a wearable digital device, it contains sensor technology made by Raleigh-based Valencell, one of three digital health-related startups presenting at the final CED Tech Venture Showcase session.

The other two presenting companies, EyeScribes of Durham and K4Connect of Raleigh both disclosed news during the session. EyeScribes, which frees doctors from the onerous necessity of personally documenting every patient visit, said it started its seed round with $100,000 from Triangle Orthopedics. K4Connect announced its first product, K4Life, which uses the Internet of things to help the disabled or elderly manage their lives.

Vince Padua, an executive director with IBM’s Watson supercomputer project, said that while Watson’s ability to understand natural language and unstructured information is being applied in “A lot of places,” it’s being used most in healthcare.

The Jeopardy-winning Watson can give healthcare providers a 360-degree view of a patient, augmenting their ability to provide the best treatments. One such use is to determine if a given patient is suitable for a specific clinical trial.

Padua encouraged entrepreneurs to “Work with us to use your knowledge and data to build apps that democratize Watson further.”

Eyes on Doctors

EyeScribes CEO and co-founder Jared Pelo, himself an M.D., said that the excessive time needed to document each patient visit in the highly regulated medical field took up to 40 percent of a physician’s time– and they hate it. It’s one of the primary causes of job dissatisfaction among doctors, he said.

The EyeScribes technology combines a mobile app with wearable technology to record each patient’s visit, which can then be documented by off-site scribes with security features guaranteeing 100 percent HIPAA privacy compliance.

It cuts the time a doctor has to spend on documentation to 10 percent, giving them more time to actually spend with patients, Pelo said.

The addressable market is estimated at $1 billion today.

“Internet of You”

K4Connect, said CEO and co-founder F. Scott Moody, wants to “Make the Internet of things the Internet of you.”

Moody previously co-founded AuthenTec, the only public company ever acquired by Apple, which raised more than $70 million in venture capital prior to its IPO.
Founded in late 2013, the company’s technology has been in private beta testing for 10 months. It has developed adaptive software that integrates individual “smart” devices into single cohesive systems.

Moody noted that the company’s first product evolved from a meeting he had with a man with MS who said he knows in the morning he can manage 1,000 steps and how he takes those steps will determine how he manages his life. That’s exactly what the firm’s first product, K4Life, is intended to do for the disabled or elderly.

Sensors to Go

Many of those “smart” devices likely have PeformTek sensor technology developed by Valencell embedded, said Steven LeBoeuf, president and co-founder.

Founded in 2006, Valencell is one of the more mature companies presenting at the CED event. It has 14 patents and dozens pending for its biometric sensor technologies that measure heart rate cardiovascular fitness. In about two years, they will even be able to measure blood pressure, LeBoeuf said.

Five publicly announced biometric products are powered by PerformTek now: Jabra’s Sport Pulse; SMS Audio’s Biosport; LG’s Heart Rate Earphones; Scosche’s Rhythm+; and its Rhythm Smart.

The company, which just raised a $7 million round of funding in June is not looking for more venture backing at the moment, but rather seeks business partners to develop apps using its technology.