Milwaukee & Goa, India
Innovation: Heart monitoring device and smart phone application
Many mobile phone users expect a lot from their phone. The portability allows them to check their e-mail and social networks and search for directions, information and song titles. Milwaukee-based Kallows Inc. thinks the mobile phone can be used for even more. The portability of the smart phone, combined with the right technology, can help provide access to basic health tests like an electrocardiogram and pulse oximeters to remote areas or in-home populations.
“We specialize in the development and production of cardiac monitoring systems for the mobile phone,” said Kevin Kreger, partner and co-founder of Kallows Engineering. “The mobile health market is expanding rapidly and we’re right in the middle of the storm.”
Kreger and his partner Gajanan Nagarsekar formerly worked together at GE Healthcare.
Kallows’ MobMon product, or Mobile Monitor, will allow medical professionals to quickly and cost effectively monitor a patient’s heartbeat using the portable ECG and pulse oximeter, Kreger said.
Medical professionals would be able to use the traditional ECG cables, but instead of connecting them to a standard stationary ECG machine in a hospital they can connect them to the MobMon device, which then connects via a USB port to the smart phone which uses a customized application to read the data.
“The portability is a huge part of the appeal,” Kreger said. “It doesn’t require electricity because it functions off the phone’s battery and the portability allows us to reach remote patient populations or take the ECG equipment to patients in their own homes.”
According to Nagarsekar, the smart phone has the capability to record and store the patient’s information. If a cell phone signal is present, it can also transmit the data remotely to another physician or a remote server for storage in a patient record.
“If a signal is not present, the medical professional can store the data on the phone and transfer the information later to a secure location,” Kreger said.
Kallows launched in 2007 when Kreger took a sabbatical to work with Nagarsekar in Goa, India on a project that involved engineering students at the university there.
“The smart phone market was very new at the time,” Kreger said. “We started developing complicated portable machinery that would need a mobile phone to read the data, but we soon realized all the parts existed inside the phone.”
Kreger and Nagarsekar started developing their systems for Blackberry and other mobile phones that utilized Linux and even traditional java code. Since its inception, Kallows has moved the technology over to the open Android platform.
“The Android marketplace is growing faster than any other smart phone platform in the world,” Kreger said. “In May, Google announced its Android open accessory initiative, which is the key part of the puzzle we needed for our technology to really take hold.”
The Google initiative makes it easier for hardware manufacturers to develop accessories that can communicate with any Android device, Kreger said.
“We’re working with local manufacturers to develop an accessory that would communicate with the smart phone through a USB connection,” Kreger said. “Eventually the same technology will be used using a Bluetooth or wireless connection.”
Kallows also plans to develop the technology for the Apple iPhone marketplace.
Kallows recently tied for second place in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest and also recently won the UW-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business, new venture business plan contest.
The company is working with local manufacturers to design and develop the casing for the MobMon device and is also working with Mark Hargarten of Cedarburg-based Replica Masters LLC on a carrying case that would make holding the MobMon device and the smart phone more convenient, Kreger said.
Kallows plans to release a fitness version of the ECG data application into the Android smart phone marketplace later this year.
“We’re hoping the sale of the fitness version of the application, which functions with almost any heart monitor on the market, will act as a continuous source of revenue for the company,” Kreger said.
Kallows is in the process of getting FDA approval for the patented technology for use in the U.S. market, but is working on launching potential clinical trials in partnership with the Marshfield Clinic as well as trials in remote areas of Africa.
“This technology will help medical professionals deliver care and diagnostic treatment to patients who may not have received that kind of care in the past,” Kreger said. “They can not only deliver it, they can deliver it in a cost effective way. We’re saving them money and hopefully helping to save lives at the same time.”