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The Sana mask. Photo courtesy of Sana

3 Colorado-Born, Next-Gen Medical Wearables

From a button that monitors your vital signs to a sleeve that can help correct your bench-press form, these Colorado companies are making futuristic medical tech—right now.

Buttoned Up

Photo courtesy of BioIntelliSense

Company: BioIntelliSense, est. 2018
Firm Profile: From its headquarters in Golden, this medical-grade device company develops tech for the continuous monitoring of vital signs, physiological biometrics, and symptomatic events.
Breakout Product: In January 2020, BioIntelliSense debuted the BioSticker (pictured), the world’s first device that can be put on like a Band-Aid and remotely monitor a patient’s vital signs with the same accuracy as traditional tools in the intensive care unit. When COVID-19 came along, the company fast-tracked the development of the BioButton, a little brother device it rolled out in May that watches for signs of infection, like elevated body temperature. (Both are sold primarily business-to-business, at undisclosed rates.)
In Layman’s Terms: The BioSticker and the BioButton are single-use devices that adhere to the skin and use biosensors to measure things like respiratory rate, heart rate at rest, and temperature. “The BioSticker is more advanced and allows doctors and nurses to let, say, a surgery patient leave the hospital more quickly knowing they can accurately monitor for complications remotely,” says BioIntelliSense founder Dr. James Mault. “The BioButton was designed in the COVID-19 era to allow people to get back together in one place. Universities, conferences, and employers are buying it so they can have their students or workers screened before returning to campus or to the office.”
Other Applications: The BioButton can also be used for contact tracing should a wearer test positive for COVID-19. Although the buttons don’t track your location, they do “talk” to other nearby buttons, meaning if everyone at a business conference is wearing a BioButton and someone gets sick, cloud-based analytics can determine which wearers came into close contact with the infected person.

Masking the Pain

The Sana mask. Photo courtesy of Sana

Company: Sana, est. 2017
Firm Profile: Based in Lafayette, Sana has developed a direct-to-consumer wearable—classified by the FDA as a wellness device—that ultimately aims to change the way we treat chronic pain (in particular, by helping people avoid opioids).
Breakout Product: The Sana mask ($99 per month for an 18-month subscription), an over-the-eyes-and-ears device that uses patterns of audio-visual stimulation to induce healthy relaxation, can help build neuroplasticity (the ability of neural networks in the brain to grow and reorganize) and overwrite existing pain pathways.
In Layman’s Terms: Using coordinated pulses of amber light and sound during 16-minute sessions, the device lulls the wearer into a deep meditative state, frequently promoting sleep. “When you’re in pain, you often can’t sleep,” says Sana’s Paula Searcy. “When you can’t sleep, you can’t heal, and when you can’t heal, you can experience depression.”
Who It’s Good For: A car crash left Sana founder Richard Hanbury with chronic nerve damage. He created the device to help with lasting pain relief; however, the mask could improve quality of life for anyone who has difficulty sleeping.

Second Skin

Photo courtesy of Cipher Skin

Company: Cipher Skin, est. 2017
Firm Profile: This Denver data technology startup designs tools for physical therapists and trainers (and their athletes) who need precise biometric information to aid in injury recovery and high-level physical training.
Breakout Product: The smart compression BioSleeve ($200 activation fee plus a $100 per month subscription that includes the hardware and data analysis) allows real-time 3D visualization of the body’s complex motions and biometrics.
In Layman’s Terms: Using biosensors, the sleeve captures data as you move through an exercise—say, extending your arm above your head—including things like range of motion, force production, and oxygen saturation. That info can help a physical therapist determine how your recovery is coming along after an injury or allow a trainer to correct your form remotely.
What’s Next: Cipher Skin’s biosensor-laden mesh works on almost anything cylindrical. The company is developing a leg sleeve (prototype due early 2021) and an athletic shirt (2022) with similar capabilities to the BioSleeve, but co-founder Phillip Bogdanovich says the tech, which has already been used on oil pipelines, could also monitor things like aircraft components.

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