UC Davis and Healbe test fitness tracker value to health
May 9, 2017
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) has started a five-year collaboration with Russian health and wellness start-up Healbe to validate whether advanced personal fitness trackers can be used to bring precision-based health services to consumers.
The university’s Foods for Health Institute is employing Healbe Flow technology, which enables the automatic and non-invasive monitoring of human calorie intake, hydration and emotional state. Healbe contributed 20 of its GoBe 2 smart life band fitness trackers to collect and analyse data based on nine health parameters – calorie intake, calories burned, energy balance, water balance, stress level, emotional state, heart rate, sleep quality, and distance travelled and number of steps taken per day.
According to Sara Schaefer, associate director of children's health at the institute and the principal investigator for the research, the university's collaboration with Healbe is focused on personalised nutrition and implementing science and technology to understand and develop tools to determine what makes humans unique in their daily and long-term dietary needs.
"We are seeking to validate wearable technology and explore its use and value in a research context," said Schaefer. "We constantly scan the market for new technologies in this area and reached out to Healbe as it offered algorithms to objectively measure different aspects of health, including dietary intake, hydration and stress, on a very personal level."
UC Davis and Healbe are also working together to learn how wearable devices such as the GoBe 2 can be used to help different segments of the population, including the possibility of creating interfaces for people living in different parts of the world as well as those who have specific physical and health conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes and heart disease.
"This collaboration with UC Davis is very important to us, offering not only the opportunity to continue to develop our Healbe Flow technology and future GoBe consumer devices, but to explore new approaches and applications for our health monitoring," said Artem Shipitsyn, CEO and co-founder of Healbe. "It is very gratifying to partner with this well-respected institution to pursue our mission to help people live healthier lives by better understanding their bodies and the consequences of their lifestyle habits."
The GoBe 2 wearable automatically measures calorie intake, hydration levels and emotional state non-invasively through users' skin. It does this through Healbe Flow technology, which employs three of the device's six onboard sensors – an impedance sensor, piezo sensor and accelerometer.
The impedance sensor sends high- and low-frequency signals through the users' skin to calculate continuously the volume of water – which is bound to glucose – entering cells within their bloodstreams. This process determines calorie and nutrition intake (carbohydrates, fats, sugar and so on), energy balance and hydration levels over 24 hour periods.
In addition, the piezo sensor measures blood flow and heart rate, while the accelerometer measures body movement and activity. All these measurements are also aided by personal data such as gender, height, weight and age that users input into the GoBe app, as well as Healbe's model of natural physiological metabolic processes as monitored by its evolving and proprietary algorithms.
Healbe was founded in 2012. The company conducted a successful Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign in 2014 that raised more than $1m to support its launch of the GoBe health-monitoring bracelet.
Healbe is headquartered in Moscow with research and development offices in St Petersburg, Russia; the US headquarters are in California and it has manufacturing offices in Schenzhen, China.