The long visible Covid • TechCrunch launches activity tracking platform

A new activity tracking platform came out of stealth today with $1 million in pre-seed funding to help those affected by prolonged COVID-19 and manage their symptoms.

The show, as the company is called, is the brainchild of London-based engineer Harry Leaming and Luke Martin-Fuller, who say they have been suffering from prolonged Covid for the past two years.

The end of the global pandemic may be in sight for many, but millions of people around the world are still suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19, with studies indicating that between 20% and 40% of those infected with Covid-19 will experience ongoing symptoms. such as mild fatigue, ‘brain fog’, headache, pain, weakness and difficulty breathing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that “at least” 17 million people in Europe contracted chronic Covid-19 in the first two years of the epidemic, with the figure rising to 145 million worldwide. But with much of the health care field still trying to piece together the puzzle of long-term COVID, patients who are seen go to the market to help solve what is widely considered the number one long-standing symptom of COVID–post-exercise (PEM).

PEM is not unique to chronic Covid – it is also common in ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – but describes worsening of symptoms following mild physical activity. One way to combat the effects of PEM is to adopt a “pacing” strategy that involves careful balancing between rest and activity.

With a consumer wearable and smartphone app, Visville wants to help millions of people do just that, and it’s launching the first part of the product today in open beta.

Founders seen: CEO Harry Leeming (left) with COO Luke Martin-Fuller

Making the invisible visible

In its initial form, Visible is available as a free mobile app, with plans to introduce a premium subscription in the US and UK in the coming months. This includes the Polar VertiSense Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), designed to be worn on the upper arm to discreetly capture essential information throughout the day.

For now, though, Visible is entirely powered by manual data inputs for morning and evening logins. This includes measuring heart rate variability (HRV) – the time between each heartbeat – which can be an indicator of a person’s health and well-being. So how can a monitor monitor this when it doesn’t yet actively support auditory rhythm monitoring? Well smartphone cameras can help with a technique called photoplethysmography (PPG), which has been shown to be a somewhat effective alternative to ECG in analyzing HRV in humans.

Essentially, Visible uses PPG to detect small changes in a person’s skin tone when the user places their finger on their camera lens for sixty seconds each morning.

“These changes allow us to measure the time between heartbeats and calculate heart rate and heart rate variability,” Liming told TechCrunch.

Over time, Visible helps users track their symptoms and identify trends.

A visible application is in action.

Continuous monitoring

With the continuous monitoring of physical HRM, however, Visible promises to be more effective in helping users adopt an effective pace strategy, avoid overdoing it, and give their bodies more time to recover.

This includes real-time data and notifications when the user detects that they are exercising too much, which may worsen their existing symptoms and slow recovery.

“This approach is consistent with published research showing that these types of alerts improve functional outcomes for people living with the virus,” Leeming said. “This works because post-viral illness is directed at the aerobic energy system. By keeping your activity levels below a certain threshold, you can avoid the dysfunctional energy metabolism response that leads to worsening symptoms.”

Visible Plus subscription provides users with insights and questions

Using latent data from the wearable could generate visible pain-based metrics, or digital biomarkers as they’re known, allowing people to make decisions based on “hard numbers” rather than subjective estimates of the severity of their condition.

For example, those who pay a Visible Plus subscription and use the accompanying wearable will benefit from Polar Verity Sense accelerometer and gyroscope data. This allows for observable phenomena such as “orthostatic intolerance,” or the body’s biological response to go from lying down to an upright position. This shows the effect that changing one’s posture has on heart rate changes.

In terms of pricing, this hasn’t been finalized yet, but Leaming said it will be in a tough ball with other consumer subscription services. to the Netflix or Spotify. So we’re talking about $10 a month, give or take. If someone already has their own Polar Verity Sense wristband, Visville says it will offer the subscription at a discounted price, and there may be scope to extend support for devices from other manufacturers.

“We expect to support a wider range of wearables in the future,” Leeming said.

Start with long covid

It’s not just about trying to speed up long-term Covid treatments and research, we’ve seen a number of new initiatives come to the fore in the last couple of years. One of them is the non-profit startup Long Covid Research Initiative (LCRI), recently launched by Ethereum co-inventor Vitalik Buterin with $15 million to study long-term Covid treatments. LCRI was started by Google and after becoming frustrated with the lack of urgency in many government-run Covid-19 programs, LCRI decided to take matters into its own hands. And there are clear comparisons to Visible’s path to launch today.

“For a long time, COVID has turned my life upside down – there are millions like me who still haven’t recovered from Covid and are struggling every day,” Leeming said. “There is no clear diagnosis, no pharmaceutical treatment, and little recognition from the government of how widespread and life-changing these conditions are. Patients like me have no choice but to build essential disease control tools – tools designed specifically for people with long-term Covid but also chronic conditions like ME/CFS, Chronic Lyme and Fibromyalgia.

It’s also worth noting here that visible users opt-in to contribute their signature and biometric data to third-party researchers studying Covid-19. For example, Leeming said he has a research partnership with Imperial College London and is currently working with a team of academics studying the effects of the menstrual cycle on Long’s COVID symptoms. Visible also has an advisory board of specialists in post-virus situations, including Dr. David Putrino, Director of Recovery Innovation at Mount Sinai, and Dr. David Strain, Medical Advisor at ActionForME, UK.

“Covid-19 and ME/CFS are incredibly debilitating diseases that we need to recognize quickly and help patients manage,” Strain told TechCrunch in a statement. “Appearance is the first tool that can truly help patients measure and manage their own disease using just their smartphone. Just as important, it will be valuable in helping clinicians and researchers advance our understanding of the disease.”

The apparent pre-seed round of funding was led by Octopus Ventures, Calm/Storm and Hustle Fund with participation from several angel backers.

Leeming said more than 4,500 people were on the waiting list for the featured app, a number he hopes will increase now that it’s officially available on Android and iOS.

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