Indian baby-healthcare startup ‘NemoCare’ wins Asia Hardware Battle 2019

NEW DELHI: NemoCare Wellness, an Indian wearables startup that aims to prevent neonatal and maternal deaths in the developing world, has walked away with first prize at Asia Hardware Battle (AHB) 2019, beating over 300 other competitors. The Hyderabad-based healthcare startup won with a wearable device that can be attached to the foot of a newborn baby for continuous monitoring of necessary vital parameters. This data is used to detect apnea, hypothermia, and other distress conditions. The device sends alerts to caregivers to provide timely intervention.

“Going forward, we are building an AI-enabled platform that works on the data being collected through the hardware. That will target specific diseases of the new borns,” Manoj Sanker, the company co-founder, said.

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A baby-friendly design and affordability are the product’s two major differentiators, according to the CEO. The product, launching early next year, will be priced at Rs 20,000 on the company’s B2B platform. NemoCare is also exploring another model that would give out the hardware for free upfront and charge on the usage of consumables.

The product development team consisted of IoT engineers, data scientists, biological engineers, and industrial designers. NemoCare was also the regional winner of the AHB city pitch in Bangalore, co-organized by local partner Revvx hardware accelerator.

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Two other Indian startups made it to the final 15 shortlist of the competition: Vicara Tech and Lazy Co.

Vicara’s “KAI” is a wearable gesture recognition platform that allows users to interact with computers, hardware, software applications, and others, using gestures.

Lazy Co. develops AI-powered smart rings called Aina, which connect with phones via Bluetooth 5 and can serve as a remote for smartphones.

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Organised by tech blog TechNode with support from Shanghai Yangpu District People’s Government, the month-long Asia Hardware Battle gathered over 300 startups from India, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and other nations. This year’s event marks the second consecutive time that an Indian team has won, indicating building momentum in the country’s hardware sector.

The longlist was narrowed down to 15 finalists who pitched to a professional judge panel that included Peter Riedl, vice president and head of BMW Group Technology Office, China; Zhang Peng, chief strategy officer and executive partner of UCommune; Qin Gang, partner at Lighthouse Capital; and Ray Tsang, co-founder and managing partner of Chenhui Venture Partners.

“There’s a popular saying—’Hardware is hard’ [to do]. This is a difficult industry to get involved in because the hardware startups have to manage a long industrial chain that involves design, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and final sales,” said Ray Tsang from Chenhui Venture.

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The runner-up prize went to Japanese startup Xenoma, the developer of smart apparel “E-skin” which is a washable and stretchy material equipped with various sensors and devices. The product could be used for tracking human movement data for posture correction, danger prevention, athlete performance, and increasing movement efficiency.

The technology has multiple application scenarios for monitoring health conditions of the elderly, tracking a baby’s sleeping conditions and monitoring how tired factory workers are, said company CEO Ichiro Amimori.

The startup has posted more than $1 million in revenue for this year so far, mainly driven by baby services. “We are monitoring over 1,000 babies every day,” he noted. Targeting a global market, the company is expanding its business to the US, Germany, and China.

Third place winner Aiello’s SPOT is a voice assistant speaker designed for homes and hotels. It can help with room equipment control (lighting, TV, air-conditioning, curtains, etc.), hotel facilities service inquiries, room service, customer complaints, music streaming, VoIP voice calls, alarm clocks, Bluetooth audio, restaurants, and recommendations on things to do.

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Different from other consumer-facing voice assistants, Aeillo’s voice command model is trained to address the specific demands and characteristics of the hospitality industry. Instead of processing one command at a time, like the case for most speakers, Aeillo’s system can handle multiple command intentions in one sentence at the same time.

Additionally, it’s also offering hotel and apartment operators with a comprehensive back-end management system for data analysis and business intelligence insights.

Aiello rolled out the product in October and has inked partnerships with six hotels. It plans to expand operations to provide its services in 30,000 to 50,000 rooms in future years. The speaker is currently available with Chinese and English voice control, and is primarily aimed at the China and the South East Asia markets.

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