Resmed hopes to tap into the growing ‘quantified self’ trend for every aspect of health and fitness to be measured and recorded.Best known for products that help stop snoring, Australian medical technology group Resmed says it has the likes of Apple, Jawbone and Fitbit in its sights with plans to make electronic gadgets that tap into the burgeoning ‘quantified self’ health and fitness trend.
Resmed chief executive Mick Farrell told a medical conference on Tuesday that Resmed wanted to make personal products that can monitor consumers’ health signs, like heart and respiratory rate and how well they are sleeping.
It planned to work with “appropriate consumer partners and well known brand names” in the consumer space, he said.
Speaking at Ausmedtech in Melbourne, Mr Farrell said the consumer-focused product would use technology from an acquisition that Resmed made in July 2011 of a Dublin-based start-up BiancaMed.
The start-up was established by PhD students who had created a device “half the size of my iPhone” that could measure heart and respiratory rate over a short distance, Mr Farrell said.
“We’re going to take that sensor and put it in a consumer device,” he said.
Mr Farrell said the company was looking for a consumer electronics company to make a device, which would be powered by Resmed’s technology – in the same way that chip processor Intel powers computers.
With innovative new products like this Resmed could connect with people when they were a “concerned consumer”, he said.
Resmed is best known for products that tackle the obstructive sleep apnoea condition. Most often characterised by telltale snoring, the condition restricts air and oxygen intake and can lead to a range of other health problems.
Patients who use Resmed’s sleep therapy products now require a prescription.
In the United States, Resmed’s largest market, the company’s sleep masks and ventilation machines are sold by durable medical equipment suppliers.
As well as monitoring consumers’ health and sleep patterns, the technology could be incorporated into an alarm that could wake them at an ideal time each morning.
Being woken up during deep or rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep leads people to feel drowsy for longer, but being woken up while in light sleep leads to a more alert start to the day, he told the crowd.
Devices like Jawbone’s UP, which is worn on the wrist and monitor sleep state by measuring how much a person moves can already do this but Resmed’s device could work from the bedside table.
The idea of consumers monitoring metrics like sleep cycles, total steps taken and heart rate via devices such as this falls under a digital technology movement known as ‘quantified self’.
Mr Farrell said he had recently attended the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas where there was a large room dedicated to sleep consumer products. “We think there’s something in this,” he said. “We want to win this space but we also love the fact that everyone else is talking about it.”
UBS analyst Andrew Goodsall said consumer sleep products are seen as “the next frontier” for companies like Resmed and its competitors Respironics and Phillips. “There’s an opportunity for more of a direct to consumer type model where the consumer is prepared to pay,” he said.
But Mr Goodsall cautioned that such a device was probably some time away.
In a sign of the interest in the sector, consumer electronics giant Apple hired a former sleep scientist from Phillips to join its iWatch team in February, according to media reports.
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