Live forever: 5 exciting health startups that could add years to your life

Emerging tech companies that could change healthcare forever
Lifesaving med-tech startups
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In the 1800s, people who wanted to make lots of money went panning for gold. Today, they create health tech startups.

The same generation of baby boomers that embraced the PC, internet and mobile tech revolutions are getting old, and they want tech to help them with their health.

You probably know about the big names already - IBM with its Watson AI, Apple with its ResearchKit platform - but you may not know about these five organisations which have very different approaches to health tech but one key thing in common: they want to help people live better, happier lives.

Read on to find the next big names in health technology.

Lyra Health (California)

Lyra Health, based in California, claims that more than 50 million people in America alone live with conditions such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse, and that many of them go undiagnosed and untreated.

That's a lot of misery, and Lyra hopes to change that by using analytics and screening tools to identify people with issues and ensure they get the correct treatment by the most suitable providers. Co-founder David Ebersman was formerly CFO at Facebook and at genetics firm Genentech, and the management team includes talent from health firms, LinkedIn and Google.

Lyra believes that its technology won't just ensure people get the right care, but that it will also eliminate inefficiencies and ineffective treatments to drive people's - and insurers' - medical costs down by massive amounts. It also estimates that it could save the US economy around $20 million a year in improved productivity.

Babylon (London)

The UK's National Health Service is currently suffering an A&E crisis, with overwhelmed emergency rooms struggling to cope with demand. One of the reasons for that is the difficulty people have in actually getting to see their doctors, so they either go to the emergency room with minor ailments instead - which is bad for the NHS, because A&E wasn't designed and isn't funded to cater for non-emergencies - or they don't get treated at all, which can have terrible consequences if they've got something seriously wrong with them.

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Babylon, a startup based in London, hopes to address that, and private healthcare firm Bupa says the company has the "potential to change the way people access healthcare." The company's app enables you to book a video consultation with or ask questions of a healthcare specialist, track your health, access health records and even order test kits and prescriptions. It's based on a £4.99 monthly subscription and is regulated by the UK Care Quality Commission, the watchdog for medical services.

Babylon isn't just focused on the UK. It notes that almost 50% of the global population doesn't have access to quality healthcare, but "most of us have a mobile phone in our pocket." It hopes its app can make the latter improve the former. "Our goal is to help people around the globe live happier, healthier lives," they say. As missions go, that's a pretty good one.

uMoove (Jerusalem)

uMoove's face tracking technology appeared in a warmly received game, uMoove Experience, in 2013, and it also offers the uHealth app to improve concentration and focus. However, the Jerusalem-based firm has much bigger ideas: its face tracking technology was developed in order to help disabled people control devices, and the firm believes that its face and eye tracking technology may also help diagnose certain neurological disorders such as ADHD, concussion, Alzheimer's and some traumatic brain injuries that have visible tells.

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A diagnosis app isn't available yet - such an app or device would require approval from a range of organisations such as the FDA in the US, and there are issues of potential liability and other legal issues to think about too - but uMoove is developing medical applications in-house and its tech is being used in eye tracking research in multiple universities.

Speaking to the Times of Israel about uHealth, uMoove CEO Yitzi Kempinski noted that "using eye tracking to diagnose even serious diseases, like stroke and concussions, is nothing new… but this is the first interactive tool that utilises eye-tracking technology for therapy, and eventually it will be used for diagnosis as well." That might mean checking a footballer for concussion, or assessing a patient for Parkinson's disease. "The eyes are truly a window to the brain," he said.

Glooko (California)

Glooko's goal is to help people with diabetes manage their condition without it adversely affecting their lives, and its products include mobile apps and web-based tools that doctors can use to monitor patients' health data. The firm, based in California, has developed tools to standardise data transfer between different devices - a big deal, as diabetics may use several different, incompatible devices to monitor their health - and to create a single unified diabetes tracking and management solution.

Glooko's system can help patients identify what drives their highs and lows, help doctors monitor at-risk patients and predict issues that might otherwise end up with the patient being hospitalised. The Institue for Alternative Future predicts that 53.1 million Americans will have diabetes in 2025, a 63% increase from today. So with diabetes growing at "epidemic proportions" in the US and other western countries, Glooko's technology could save a lot of lives and reduce the burden on hospitals too.

Reemo (Minneapolis)

Like many good ideas, Reemo started as a personal mission: when co-creator Muhammad Abdurrahman's father suffered a series of strokes, his son wanted to help restore his independence. Reemo was the result.

The Minneapolis based startup currently has two products: the Reemo Watch, which is a smartwatch, and the Reemo Engine, which is software that runs on other smartwatches. Both products are designed to do the same thing, which is make life easier for people with reduced mobility due to disability, ageing, injury or post-surgical rehabilitation, although the technology delivers a useful experience for people without mobility issues too.

Reemo is a health and fitness tracker with an important extra: it uses gesture control to provide a simple, low-impact way for users to control devices including Nest thermostats, Hue lights, the IFTTT app and a wide range of connected home systems, and partners include Microsoft, iControl and Logitech. The first devices will ship in October 2015.