The AXA Health Tech and You awards brought together entrepreneurs and innovators from all over the world to showcase their life-transforming technologies
From tools for cancer survivors to DNA testing kits that help people feel younger by turning genes “on and off”, yesterday (22 May) saw numerous innovations from all over the world presented at the fifth annual AXA Health Tech & You Awards.
Richard Cooper, head of digital at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “AXA Health Tech & You has been driving forward health innovation and discovering technologies that make the lives of consumers and their families better by helping with common health needs, such as sleep problems and concerns about mental health in children.
“We are also proud to recognise both early stage entrepreneurs and later stage innovators who are the talent and energy behind these technologies, through the innovation and excellence categories.
“As we look forward to announcing the winners at the AXA Health Tech & You Awards Ceremony next month, it is good to see an increase in finalists from all over Europe and the rest of the world, showing that health technology is growing on a global scale.”
The shortlisted innovations address rising health needs for patients and their families – helping people with sleep issues, addressing mental health concerns in children and teenagers and keeping the elderly active in their later years.
Here we profile the finalists from each category.
Mental health in children challenge category
Using a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach, the Clear Fear app provides interactive ways for children and young people aged between 11 to 19 years to systematically manage symptoms of anxiety.
Dr Nihara Krause, a consultant clinical psychologist, said:”In general, when you talk to young people, you will find they say that they find school, assessments and exams cause anxiety, and also problems happening in the family.”
Dr Krause demonstrated alternative ways young people can regulate their emotional distress through the wide variety of tasks in which they can express their negative emotions, which will be substituted with positive ones through the use of humour and positive quotes.
She added: “But if the user is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, if the anxiety is really affecting how they’re dealing with life in general, they can use features to help deal with it, such as the popular ‘immediate help’ section.
“When they suffer a panic attack, a lot of users say they use strategies such as audio taping, or putting in the names and details of people they can contact, or things they can do to help themselves calm down.”
The KIT Squad
Focusing on verbal interaction, KIT is a digital partner personally matched to its user, available through phone and voice assisted tech for young teens who need help discussing mental health issues, relationships, bullying and abuse.
As well as prompting with social confidence, the platform keeps all personal information and interactions private.
The conversation engine that powers KIT is built upon linguistic prompts that identify destructive language, mood and mental health cues.
Using smart technology to interact, listen and learn the habits of each user, KIT intelligently evolves its prompts and social cues to improve language skills and emotional awareness to assist in improving the social skills of its user.
Using 3D augmented reality interactive models, Xploro is an app that prioritises educating cancer patients in health literacy to understand health information, services and environments, which will improve engagement between healthcare providers and patients.
After designing a unique avatar, users are virtually guided across the hospital and introduced to technologies, operating rooms and medical staff.
This will reduce stress and anxiety levels young patients suffer from, and possibly improve health outcomes.
A conversational feature provides further insight regarding some of the procedures that the users are anticipated to experience, and also allows them to ask questions about their condition and medication intake to help them become more familiar and comfortable with themselves too.
Sleep Tech Challenge Category
Founded in London 2016, LYS Technologies is a wearable technology shaped as a button that consists of light sensors which replicate the photoreceptors in the eyes, and is worn during the day.
The LYS button connects to an app that measures the wearer’s circadian rhythm – the physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle – by calculating their age, gender, chronotype and usual waking, and sleeping hours.
The tool is claimed to be “the world’s first circadian rhythm knowledge database” that helps wearers understand how light affects them, and how light intake is a leading factor on the quality of sleep and energy levels throughout the day.
Circadia is an AI-powered, wireless sleep tracker and light therapy lamp that monitors body vitals, sleep, circadian rhythm, environment and behavioural data from a bedside table with sleep lab-tested accuracy to combat insomnia.
Dubbed the “world’s first virtual sleep clinic”, the lamp helps users fall asleep faster and manage light intake in the morning to reduce daytime fatigue.
The connected Cardia app works as a sleep trainer that informs users what factors in their environment and behaviour are negatively impacting their sleep, and what can be done to improve it.
Access to an exclusive network of sleep coaches and therapists is also provided virtually through the app.
Developed as an app to help travellers better manage jet lag, Timeshifter is a tool used by astronauts and elite athletes, and received the National Sleep Foundation’s 2019 SleepTech Award for the best last month.
After users are instructed to input details about their sleep pattern, chronotype and flight plan, the app helps reset natural sleep cycles by recommending when they should sleep, wake up, seek and avoid light.
By creating personalised jet lag plans, and identifying actions to take, such as how much caffeine to reduce before and during travelling, it enables users to tackle the underlying cause of jet lag and remain productive after long flights.
Innovation in healthtech category
Chronomics claims itself as the world’s first company to track your changing health and well-being by harnessing epigenetic information on your DNA.
Epigenetics are factors that can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes “on or off over time”.
Charles Ball, the chief operating officer at Chronomics, said: “Epigenetics are tags in the DNA that can turn on and off depending on changes you make.
“You can measure and reverse those changes to make yourself feel younger therefore, you can measure how to get younger.
“So for example, my actual age is 27, but my biological age accelerated – it’s 33 and so what I’m doing now is trying to reverse that back to my actual age.”
He explained the biggest and most drastic impact to epigenetic changes and age acceleration is smoke exposure.
He added: “Chronomics partners with practitioners, lifestyle doctors, geneticists and epigeneticists, a nutritionist and a health coach – so the individual subscribed to Chronomics has access to all of those people, and the idea is that they can get a holistic approach and get in touch however often.
“It’s a yearly subscription model and we’ll check in on where you are, and that’s what makes us different from traditional DNA testing companies, we’re a medical change.
“You can be preventative rather than reactive, sometimes you can get some people who are ten years older or ten years younger – it’s all environmental and lifestyle-orientated.
“People have different tolerances to different things, we’re all unique people. But we live in a world where we’ve been educated that everyone must stop doing everything – and that’s not necessarily the case.
“We can take identical twins with identical DNAs, but why does one have cancer and the other one doesn’t if it was fixed? So it’s all about controlling it.”
An official launch of Chronomics’ personalised epigenetic testing platform will be taking place in London in June.
Voice-enabled Genie is an intelligent robot for the elderly who live alone, designed to tackle loneliness and adapt to their likes and dislikes while also sending reminders for medications and appointments.
The personalised companion robot can interact through conversations and answering questions, and is able to play music and videos on request to increase independence.
Genie can also connect the elderly people by video to other users with similar interests – from crosswords and quiz shows, to yoga and knitting.
Zencorlabs aims to reduce heart failure readmission rates and prevent death and illness by detecting the disease early using its device, known as “The Whistle”, linked to a smartphone device.
The Whistle mimics the Valsalva manoeuvre – a breathing technique that increases pressure in the chest and helps to provide a clear picture by displaying a graph of the heart rate to understand potential heart failure status.
With the help of a smartphone, the patient can then record the health of their heart.
The recorded data is continuously uploaded to a server, and an AI analysis instantly delivers the result to the user via the Zenor app to alert them of potential heart failure.
Mobility and accessibility challenge category
The UK-based company is a pioneer in online mental health, which give its users the ability to choose and work with dietitians, physiotherapists and psychologists to improve their health and well-being by providing personalised health information and guidance.
The platform is available for appointments seven days a week, while allowing clients to have the choice to work with either a single practitioner or together with a whole team.
Aimed at older generations, Lechal – meaning “take me there” in Hindi – is a smart insole aimed at reducing fall risk and increasing physical activity by using vibrations at the feet to allow users to navigate directions after setting a destination on the connected app.
Lechal was launched in response to a World Health Organization report that India has the highest population of visually-impaired people in the world.
The smart insole has advanced gait and balance measurement capabilities, with unique vibration patterns for different kinds of turns and even for rerouting.
After an assessment, the app suggests a personalised six month home exercise programme that helps improve mobility, strength, balance and endurance to reduce the risk of falling.
Tomo is an app that uses the best of social media combined with behavioural activation therapeutic techniques, derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to share healthy habits between an online community.
It assists in building and practicing positive and healthy activities to create long-term habits through scheduling and motivation by posting photos to inspire and share with Tomo members.
Tomo delivers digital health technology that creates a lasting change to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and chronic pain conditions.
Excellence in healthtech category
DNAFit works as a personal health coach that offers user-friendly nutritional profiling services based on genetic science and technology, and all from a saliva swab test.
With access to features such as online meal plans and training plans, the DNAFit kit provides a sustainable wellness proposition for every step of the users health and fitness journey.
The DNAfit app also includes health scores to track the user’s progression, along with recommended articles to gain more insight about health, fitness, nutrition and the world of genetics.
Created for cancer-related fatigue patients, the Untire app is a digital medicine that improves energy levels by helping users understand factors in their daily lives that affect productivity.
By providing daily information and reminders, the programme enables patients to resume self-control and quality of life.
Door Vonk, CEO of Tired of Cancer, the company which developed the app, said: “A lot of cancer fatigue patients feel guilty about the fact that they can’t do what they want to do – being a parent, being a mother, being a father – because they are tired and exhausted, and they can’t do what they once did before they were diagnosed and treated.
“We have different programmes such as positive quotes and recommended meditations like yoga, and exercises to help them to regain life, and not feel guilt.
“Using the ‘vase of energy with a leak’ feature, we make people aware of their energy levels.
“They can fill in their own energy level from zero to 100, which makes them aware of what their leak is by identifying their fears.
“It could be a fear of cancer returning, or financial stress, or relationship problems – the leak representing their worries is a metaphor we use to make people aware of the vase of energy system.”