Prospects for fitness bands, smartwatches and other biosensing monitors have caught the attention of insurance companies. Increasingly, health insurance providers are building programs around biosensors to lower premiums for healthy behaviors. As well, life insurance providers are now looking to insight from wearables data to help them make more informed policy decisions, which would serve to lower premiums for healthy people – and to help steer higher-risk candidates down a better path.


A growing number of insurers are looking to South African startup LifeQ to help develop such sensor-to-cloud programs. Analog Devices is an investor in LifeQ. LifeQ is an attractive partner for such programs, due to its broad suite of metrics to assess heart health, sleep quality and stress, as well as a health information platform to manage all the data.


“This is an exciting time in biosensing, as we’re finally starting to realize the great potential for healthcare providers, insurance carriers – and all of us, of course – to make better decisions,” said Riaan Conradie, President and Co-founder of LifeQ (pictured right). “It’s a win-win, because it eases the burden on our healthcare system and saves insurers money. And in the end, we’ll all be healthier, too.”                                                                                                                   


LifeQ recently concluded a pilot program with an insurer with the potential to turn the life insurance business on its head. Together, they developed inputs for the insurer’s risk-stratification systems that are used to set premiums.


You might call it a wrist-stratification system. Because the new inputs into the insurer’s new model were derived from insight generated from fitness band data. As part of the pilot, 1,000 test subjects wore Garmin Vivosmart HR bands modified with LifeQ metrics for three months. The sensor complex  inside the Vivosmart HR bands are built around Analog Devices’ components monitoring platform, which the company unveiled more than two years ago.


Though it’s vitally important to the success of life insurance companies, the risk stratification process has remained largely static for decades. Insurers typically make premium decisions for policies that can span 10 years or 15 years armed with little more than a questionnaire and a physical. So there is plenty of room to improve.


Indeed, the commercial program hasn’t yet been announced. But the buzz surrounding the pilot – and resulting enhancements to the insurer’s risk-stratification process – is already catching the attention of other insurance providers. We expect more insurers to build wearables-based programs over the next year.


Have an idea for a biosensing application? Let us know!

  • Identified Problem Statement:

    A multitude of women across the world dream of conceiving a child. Unfortunately, many women have difficulty becoming pregnant, for a myriad of reasons.


    One of the main barriers to women becoming pregnant is uncertainty of when their bodies’ are ovulating. Ovulation is a key component that allows women’s bodies to achieve pregnancy.


    Thereby, a wearable solution is needed to precisely identify when women’s bodies undergo ovulation, to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.


    How Ovulation in Female Bodies Works:

    The two specific hormones that indicate when ovulation is occurring in women are follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone.


    When both follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels rise, and moreover peak, in the body, ovulation commences. There is also a slight rise in body temperature during this time (see graph 2).


    After some research, I found that monitoring the levels of luteinizing hormone may be more beneficial, because it is specifically when levels of this hormone rise, that the egg is released from the ovary, and ovulation begins.


    Grrr not able to paste into this post to add graphs..

    Graph 1



    Graph 2

    Above slide courtesy of

    Tony J. Akl, Ph.D.

    Biomedical Systems Engineer

    Healthcare Segment Team | Analog Devices Inc.


    Another option would be an ovulation monitoring (temporary) tattoo would begin by sending pilocarpine into the body to induce sweat. Then a small handheld device is used to read the hormone level(s).


    I am now currently trying to research which enzyme reacts with luteinizing hormone to produce a reaction that can be electrochemically monitored, as was the case with how the alcohol tattoo works (1). I believe once I discover this, perhaps a tattoo and or (more likely) a wearable device will be able to monitor the levels of luteinizing hormone in women to monitor when ovulation is occurring in the body.



    Number of (USA) births in 2014: 3,988,076.

    In 2015 the number was 3,978,497. Birth rate: 12.4 per 1,000 population.

    Fertility rate: 62.5 births per 1000 women aged 15-44 years.

    (Source CDC – NVSS )  


    These births depict that a large number of women are and desire to, achieve pregnancy every year throughout the USA.


    This further represents the immense size of the target population of consumers (& Physicians) who will gravitate towards this product to help them achieve more pregnancies in the future. This would also provide another method for physicians to help their patients conceive.


    On the flip side, a large portion of the population has difficulty achieving pregnancy.

             93 to 95% of couples get pregnant after four years of trying


             91% of couples get pregnant after three years of trying


             85% of couples get pregnant after one year of trying


             59% of couples get pregnant after three months of trying


             30% of couples get pregnant after one month of trying


    These individuals in particular would greatly benefit from a device that monitors when ovulation is occurring in the body, so that their chances of conceiving can be increased.


    Additional Benefits:

    Monitoring the levels of luteinizing hormone in order to increase the likelihood of pregnancy is not only important to evaluate in females, it is also important to monitor in males as well.


    Identifying when luteinizing hormones peak in a males body signals a production of testosterone, which actively plays a crucial role in working to achieve pregnancy in women.


    This not only doubles the target population for this product, but it additionally allows for increased outreach and marketing options as well.


    Contact me for additional information

    1. This is a prototype that was published in August-2016. However this is based on a temporary tattoo:
    2. Additional researched web links below:
  • Would it be possible to make a sensor to be worn while driving, that would sense if the wearer fell asleep? And would then wake them up?

  • What about an easy to wear strap to monitor adult sleep apnea. Current system use a bulky system with many sensors, but would potentially simply monitor chest movement be enough? A simple strain gage and chest based Spo2 as well as hearth beat connected with LifeQ algorithms may be enough? Certainly less bulky and easier to wear.

    Example of current systems:

    This could be used during the diagnostic phase but also during treatment.

    Maybe combined with a way to stimulate or nudge the sleeper with a minimal vibration as a replacement for CPAP machines. I am sure some trials will have to be conducted but an easier to use device could cut costs and increase patients wanting to use it.