Digital Engineering for a Health Device Startup

Who They Are

Background

A Biofeedback Wearable Device Startup chose TechBlocks to help develop the first clinically validated wearable with scientifically proven touch therapy that actively helps your body recover from stress and improve Heart Rate Variability.

The company started as a research project in Cognitive Affective Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. The founders discovered that certain combinations of low frequency inaudible sound waves (vibration that you can feel, but can’t hear) can safely and reliably change how we feel through our sense of touch, and that we can measure those physiological changes in near real time.

HRV

FOCUS

SLEEP

CALM

PHYSICAL RECOVERY

Their Product

Our client developed one of the first biofeedback devices that can be worn on a wrist or ankle and is designed to constantly monitor the electrical activity of the heart for signs of stress. When stress is detected through their patented technology, sound waves are generated from the device to activate our sense of touch and immediately reduce our stress reactions.

Their solution has been clinically proven through numerous independent studies to improve focus, sleep, productivity, reduce anxiety and calm the user and allow for deeper meditative states.

What They Needed

The Challenge

Their wearable device relies on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to link to a paired smartphone for data synchronization through native mobile companion apps. The mobile apps provide the interface for users to interact with the wearable devices, get stats, and visual feedback from the device, and suggest recommendations for built-in programs to improve stress conditions.

Some of the challenges faced by client were:

Device Development

  • The device requires constant connectivity with the host device. They had challenges with high packet drops over BLE, resulting in unstable and poor user experience for the companion app.
  • The variability between mobile device manufacturers’ implementation of Bluetooth protocols, sleep mode and application hibernation mode made maintaining a constant connection to the host device difficult.
  • High battery consumption on the wearable device as it had to constantly reconnect and resend data packets to the companion app.
  • Issues related to Over the Air (OTA) updates to the wearable devices resulted in frequent crashes and unhappy customers.

Quality Assurance

  • Need for better Quality Assurance practices and test coverage for the application, so that the application can be tested in its entirety in short time for each release and resulting in a more stable app .
  • DevOps processes leading to a longer time required to make changes, fix bugs and update apps in store.

Developing an easy to use mobile health app with valuable data visualizations was also a challenge for the client. Their Bluetooth device captures a lot of data, but allowing the user to derive useful insights from the data was a unique challenge.

Solution Design

THE SOLUTION

The Startup partnered with TechBlocks to help engineer companion app to their BLE wearable device. TechBlocks augmented the client team with its expertise on Native mobile app development and Quality Assurance processes especially focussing around wearable technologies and BLE.

In a short span of time, we took charge of Clients native app and starting modernizing their frameworks to leverage latest technology that could help alleviate some of the pain points.

Through our partnership, we delivered the following solutions, and continue to support their apps as well as Quality Assurance practices:

App

  • A companion app to receive the device data, provide OTA firmware updates and manage device settings.
  • In-app data visualizations to provide the user with real-time feedback on their current stress levels.

Process

  • Setup Quality Assurance processes, defined test strategy, and wrote test cases for a complete coverage of the companion apps.
  • Extended our device testing lab to test BLE wearable devices and companion apps with a larger number of mobile devices on Android and iOS.

Device

  • A custom keep alive protocol was developed to allow the wearable to communicate with the companion app through various host device states
  • Code optimization and improved error handling to ensure that there is low battery consumption on the wearable to extend its life, by optimizing connection and data transfer
  • Code optimizations to maintain connections to the host device, wakeup the companion app to sync captured data, and optimize transfer to avoid data packet loss

The
RESULTS

Our expertise in building companion apps for BLE wearable devices and mobile device testing labs helped the Client resolve BLE connections issues, and provide a stable app with a much shorter release cycle. With the extended QA and DevOps processes and a strong development team, the Client was able to release fixes and new features every couple of weeks compared to a few months earlier, and improve their overall ratings on the store.

SPEED TO MARKET

QUALITY CONTROL

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

How TechBlocks Can Help

TechBlocks has built accelerators and framework to build scalable mobile apps for BLE wearable devices while significantly reducing the time required to build and providing a stable application. Our accelerators streamline development by providing capabilities related to user authentication, device registration, cloud integration, message queue, data transmission and optimal battery consumption for the BLE devices.

Additionally, we have inhouse capabilities to provide User Experience Design and Native Cloud development on AWS and Azure for the backend applications for the BLE Wearable devices.

Get in touch today to learn how TechBlocks can help you with your medical device wearable project.

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