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Cue health tracker brings molecular-level testing to iOS

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
With pedometers, smartwatches and other passive connected health-related products carving out a niche in the iOS device accessories market, tech startup Cue is looking to take the "quantified self" much further with an ambitious project that gathers, tracks and interpolates biological samples on the molecular level.



The culmination of four years of research and development, Cue's eponymous device is a small, modular, noninvasive hardware solution that unlocks key health information previously available only from specialized diagnostics laboratories.

Cue packs in high-tech biosensors and an advanced microfluidic system that converts biological samples into digital data. After processing in the cloud, users can track metrics on their iPhone to make informed lifestyle decisions regarding eating, sleeping and exercising, among other activities.

Company cofounder and CEO Ayub Khattak said the idea for Cue has roots in the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

"We were seeing how the whole [health industry] system was really inefficient in getting people the information they wanted at that time, which was 'do I have swine flu or not,'" Khattak said. "If people could just have a simple hardware product in their homes that allowed them to find out this information easily, then everything would change about how we reacted to that situation."

From there, Khattak looked at the then-burgeoning field of smartphone-connected health devices fueled by the popularity of Apple's iPhone and flexible iOS software platform. Paying attention to the metrics most consumers were interested in tracking, Cue developed its suite of tests and accompanying tracking app.

When it launches in early 2015, Cue will have separate disposable cartridges that test for five distinct molecular indicators relating to inflammation, Vitamin D, fertility, influenza and testosterone. Each metric has a different marker that, when measured and tracked, can be used to discover trends, monitor progress and help users gain realtime insight on their bodies.


Cue with portable carrying case.


According to Cue cofounder and Chief Product Officer Clint Sever, much of the three-year R&D period was spent fusing the two core technologies into an appealing consumer device. Aside from the in-house biosensors, the bespoke microfluidic system allows Cue to handle small amounts of human sample in a way that is both powerful and cost effective.

"Taking these fundamental laboratory principles and technologies and packing them into a system anyone can use was really the key challenge in developing the product," Sever said.

On the hardware side, Cue is built on a modular platform with a small rectangular device serving as a type of base station that accepts single-use cartridges for various molecular testing. Weighing in at less than a pound, Cue is portable and can be taken to the gym or office for on-the-go readings.

Each cartridge tests for a different indicator by sampling saliva, blood or fluid from a nasal swab with an included sample wand. The base station automatically determines when a sample cartridge and sample wand are present, processes the biological sample and sends the resulting digitized data to an iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0. Charging is accomplished via the Qi wireless standard.

The Cue app then aggregates test data into a timeline called Life Feed -- or broken off into dedicated sections for each indicator -- for easy viewing or to share with friends and family members. In addition, the app can also use collected data to pull down food and exercise recommendations from the cloud. For example, if a user's Vitamin D levels are low, Cue may suggest a smoothie or some fruit and can schedule the task in a user's calendar.

Cue app showing Life Feed user activity.


The following tests will be available when Cue launches:

  • Inflammation
    Optimize your workouts, recovery, and heart health by tracking C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. In response
    to stimulus like injury or chronic illness the body produces CRP, which many experts agree is the best overall marker of inflammation. Cue helps you manage your recovery from exercise, provide dietary recommendations to support a healthy cardiovascular system and lower your inflammation with smart lifestyle recommendations for activity and foods like kale and Omega-3 rich wild-caught salmon.
  • Vitamin D
    Stay balanced and healthy by tracking vitamin D. Nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin", vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by the body when sunlight strikes the skin. Smart recommendations from Cue help you schedule time in the sun to boost your vitamin D and elevate your mood, support for stronger bones, and improve your overall health.
  • Fertility
    Understanding the hormones in your body can provide you with an easy, predictable way on when it is the best time to try and maximize the chance to get pregnant. Maximize your chances of pregnancy by tracking Luteinizing Hormone (LH) levels. LH regulates fertility and tracking LH levels is the only method proven to indicate your peak time of fertility with accuracy. Visualize your LH levels as an indicator of fertility trends, discover new food choices proven to support fertility, and get alerts when LH is peaking so you know it's time to try.
  • Influenza
    Detecting flu early helps you and your loved ones can get better, faster. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness with symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, body aches, and fatigue. If Cue detects flu, start the conversation with your physician so you can get on track to the treatment you need, faster than ever before.
  • Testosterone
    Maximize your performance, energy, and focus by tracking your free testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that builds muscle mass, strength, bone health, and fuels sex drive. Discover how exercise like sprinting and strength can training boost your natural testosterone levels, and receive recommendations to optimize your diet to amplify your performance both inside and outside the gym.




As far as accuracy is concerned, controls were established by comparing Cue's performance in extrapolating data from biological samples against existing laboratory tests. The device is still considered a "consumer health product," however, and it remains to be seen how useful the generated information can be in real life scenarios.

To that end, Cue preorder customers will be invited to take part in a usability study that will help the device on its path to FDA clearance.

Cue is available for preorder today in limited quantities through the company's website. The first 1,000 units sold are priced at $149, while the remainder will go for $199 until stock is exhausted. When Cue hits store shelves in spring of next year, it will retail for $300.
post #2 of 11
This sounds like an absolutely terrible idea that will just help make a world of hypochondriacs. I can see no reason to need to track something like vitamin D or testosterone on a daily basis. Inflammation markers are completely nonspecific as well. Only the fertility tracker might make sense.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

This sounds like an absolutely terrible idea that will just help make a world of hypochondriacs. I can see no reason to need to track something like vitamin D or testosterone on a daily basis. Inflammation markers are completely nonspecific as well. Only the fertility tracker might make sense.

You pretty much express my feelings exactly, Being a diabetic I have to track blood sugar levels, which frankly is a pain in the ass, but that is after being diagnosed and then being very stubborn about the tracking. Something like this might, I have to stress MIGHT, be of use to someone with specific problems and maybe after direction from a medical professional. On the whole I don't see general availability doing a lot of good.

Another company has a spectrometer in the works to use in conjunction with cell phones, this is a device that might be somewhat useful for medical purposes. That is if it can deliver valid results. Honestly though I'd rather see something like this built into a cell phone rather than as separate device. Why? For the same reason I want GPS, maps, web browsing and all those other features in a cell phone - no one really wants to carry all of these separate devices around.
post #4 of 11

Medical diagnostics are highly regulated for a reason!  Just like prescription drugs, they have the power to turn healthcare into malpractice. This device sounds like the snake-oil of diagnostics, and has potential for great harm. I'm surprised they are allowed to make the claims they do--and perhaps they aren't.  This should be clearly labeled as a "toy" and "for entertainment and novelty use only". 

 

I don't mean to say that this isn't a great idea, and shouldn't be pursued. But rather that, before the manufacturer can make medical claims about diagnosing this or that disease or hormone level, the device MUST be rigorously tested for accuracy, reliability, and robustness in the hands of consumers. Which, no doubt, the company is aware of, hence the statement "Cue preorder customers will be invited to take part in a usability study that will help the device on its path to FDA clearance."


Edited by TeaEarleGreyHot - 5/13/14 at 7:02am
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post
Being a diabetic I have to track blood sugar levels, which frankly is a pain in the ass

 

And your glucose meter is a regulated medical device, as you know. And even then, there can be great swings in the accuracy of the readings (plus or minus 20%) despite your using control solutions every month, etc.  An un-regulated product could produce completely fictitious results, despite the high-ideas and aspirations of the inventor. They frequently do. This is why such products are regulated in the first place!

post #6 of 11

Hi this is Ayub from Cue. We absolutely understand your concerns, and should stress that we developed this product not to be a diagnostic for illness but rather a tool to support wellness. We spent 4 years working on the technology before taking the next step, which will be collecting enough data to prove efficacy to the FDA.  Cue has already undergone extensive internal validation against common, gold-standard laboratory methods. Blood glucose tracking for those suffering from diabetes is rightly highly regulated because the consequence of inaccurate readings is severe.

 

Launching Cue to the public will help us get the device in the hands of customers who can voluntarily opt-in to an anonymized clinical study that will be submitted to the FDA for 510(k) clearance, which we are currently working on. 

 

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

This sounds like an absolutely terrible idea that will just help make a world of hypochondriacs. I can see no reason to need to track something like vitamin D or testosterone on a daily basis. Inflammation markers are completely nonspecific as well. Only the fertility tracker might make sense.

 

how can developing the building blocks of medical tech be a terrible idea? have you seen the first dentist chairs? they were a terrible idea! but they lead to what we have today. etc.. 

 

you cant get to a star trek-style tricorder if you dont build simple tools first. baby steps.

post #8 of 11
While I applaud any scientific advances in early detection and so on, but Doctors don't seem to be targeted with new products like this, only end users. I hope I am wrong and I hope there are many new low cost and advanced systems being developed for doctors too.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #9 of 11
Testosterone and inflamation alone make this a great deal for lifters who pay over $50 per testosterone testing kit. This will bring that down to $4 per test after the initial investment.

Who wouldn't want to test themselves for the flu when they first start feeling sick? Start the correct treatment as soon as possible.

Fertility, single guys could use on their girlfriends in reverse to make sure they stay un-attached!
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

While I applaud any scientific advances in early detection and so on, but Doctors don't seem to be targeted with new products like this, only end users. I hope I am wrong and I hope there are many new low cost and advanced systems being developed for doctors too.


Exactly - I'm not against the idea of a "tricorder" but the right people need to be using them and need to know what to do with the information. If you need your testosterone or vitamin D levels checked, go to a doctor. Don't check them daily at home because it's probably going to show you a meaningless trend and you might not know what to do with the information you're getting anyway. And while I've never actually watched Star Trek, I'm guessing it wasn't the random Earthlings using the tricorder, it was Spock or someone with the know-how.

post #11 of 11
Replacement cartridges: $9.99 ?

You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

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You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

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