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uChek Universal: The medical lab in your phone

Converts your phone into a medical lab. Provides health insights and early warnings right when they should be provided: Early!

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The uChek Universal converts your Apple or Android phone into - and is as accurate as - a medical laboratory urinanalyzer.

Track 14 vital parameters: Glucose, Protein, Urobilinogen, Calcium, Blood, Creatinine, pH, Ketone, Bilirubin, Specific Gravity, Nitrites, Leucocyte, Ascorbic Acid, Microalbumin.

Get health insights. Get early warnings. Stay healthy!

Media:Media coverage: BBC, Wired, TechCrunch, TED, All Things Digital

The Cuboid can accommodate a wide variety of mobile phones

Power to you

The uChek Universal converts your phone into your own personal medical lab.

The uChek Universal + App puts more health data at your fingertips than ever before.  It measures 14 health parameters using routine urine analysis, provides day-to-day analytics, and, importantly, enables regular monitoring for early warning markers for more than 25 medical conditions, including complications of diabetes, pregnancy, kidney disease and urinary tract infections. So you can have timely, relevant and informed consultations with your doctor, and take corrective action before time. The whole idea is spot risks early, and to arrest big problems before they become big.

Accurate, meaningful, actionable health data for you and your family. Take control of your health. Power to you.

Universal App on iOS and Android

 Our story: “Democratizing healthcare”

"Democratizing healthcare”. Those are two big words, and we don’t quite know what they mean. But what we know is that they evoke (vaguely but strongly) how things should be, and highlight what healthcare is not today. It is not personal, it is not preventative, it is not universally accessible.

If you are amongst the lucky ones, healthcare for you probably means a trip to an impersonal hospital building, getting poked, pricked, probed, questioned, labeled and coming back home with a number to your name and advice from your doctor, perhaps a prescription to your name, perhaps an appointment for an operation, to cure a problem that could have been prevented if detected a few months earlier.

If you are not amongst the lucky ones, health “care” for you means being denied a trip to such an impersonal hospital building, not being pricked and probed, not having a doctor advice you, not being a number in a file. Because there is no file, and no doctor and no hospital for you, You are part of the 3 billion poor on this planet, without access.

In both cases, we felt there has to be a better way.

We are a group of doctors, engineers, designers, both US and India educated, who saw what healthcare is not, in both worlds. We are an uncomplicated bunch of 'maker' types: So we started making.

ToucHb's journey, recorded at TED 2012In 2009, we developed a portable technology that enables village health workers in the developing world to test women and children for anemia, without needing a needle-prick. This device – the ToucHb – is being used by clinics in India. One of us (Myshkin) presented the story of its creation at TED 2012 in Long Beach California.

In Feb 2013, Myshkin was back at the TED conference, this time, with an iPhone and the concept of uChek, unveiled on stage.  He claimed you could monitor vital health data, monitor more than 25 conditions, through conventional urine analysis, but done using the imaging and processing power of the phone.

Since that original "hack" with a cell phone, we have prototyped, tested, iterated.

Many times over.

As with anything: Simplicity and reliability of function took many attempts to achieve. Read about our technical journey, and turns taken, here.

After a few months of this, we finally came up with a reasonably stable, reliably accurate system: The uChek App and peripheral, that worked something like this.

The Original uChek system

In  April 2013, after registering this with the US FDA (link), we released this first commercial version of uChek (The "uChek Original") to users in the US and India. This first version of the app is downloadable from the App Store.

This V1.0 was cool.

It effectively replaced the $2000 conventional benchtop urine analysis machine used by labs (e.g. Like these) ,with a mobile phone and an inexpensive accessory, and what's more, did this without reducing the level of accuracy in any way.

Along the way, we got lots of encouragement, and validation for our idea.

The users of this first version gave us some great ideas to make the uChek more powerful.
a) Can the App provide more than just "data". How about powerful analytics? Meaningful, actionable information?
b) Can the Cuboid be made better, easier to use? How about making do without the Color Mat?
c) Can't we have the option to sync the data to the cloud, access it and export it from anywhere?
d) Can't we have the test strips do more? More power!

Also, why can't it be available in more countries around the world?

Well…
“Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes” !

Presenting, the next big thing in the things you can do with your phone: The uChek Universal.

The uChek Universal: The medical lab in your phone

A. The Universal's improved light box: Cuboid 2.0

uChek Universal

Made out of medical grade ABS, the Cuboid 2.0 is stable, durable, dependable. It follows the design and functional characteristics of the chamber of a conventional lab-based automated urine analysis machine.
And here's the kicker: No more centering of the mat. In fact, no more mat!
Everything is built in, everything works with 1 single step:
Place the strip in the slot and you're good to click "Begin"!

 

B. Universal's App: The leap ahead


We love the user interface of the present uChek app we shipped to you all.
And so do you, we know.

But we'll be the first ones to admit that there is one aspect we can improve significantly: DATA. And more specifically the intelligent use of it, to empower the user. Data on its own, in its raw form, is not as powerful for the user as meaningful, actionable, information.

 

Advice. Recommendations. Early warnings.

The Universal's app answers questions.

The biggest question after every test: "Is this normal?"

Multi-parameter data, captured over many days, is rich in insight, in chances to mine for early warnings. Early warnings are possible if abnormalities are detected, that would otherwise have gone undetected until symptoms appeared. The whole point, we believe, is to get to this critical information BEFORE that stage. The whole point of an early warning is that it should be early. And this is what the Universal's app is now equipped to deliver.

Underlying this powerful new capability are 2 radical improvements

a) Increase in the number of parameters measured. The Universal's app measures and tracks 14 parameters (as against 8 for the uChek Lite)

Glucose, Protein, Urobilinogen, Calcium, Blood, Creatinine, pH, Ketone, Bilirubin, Specific Gravity, Nitrites, Leucocyte, Ascorbic Acid, Microalbumin.

b) An engine that maps the 14 parameters and combination of parameters onto specific disease states. The "early warning" capability of the Universal is powered by this core element. The disease mapping engine is currently being developed in MATLAB (a programming environment for engineers).

This web of networked knowledge about risk levels, symptoms, disease states and your health parameters is accessible through the app. This is what makes sense of the data.

 

C. The uChek Cloud

Basic parameter testing is possible without a network connection but many of the advanced data analytics services are made possible with connectivity to the uChek cloud. Cloud applications include native programs built by us - such as a simple but robust EHR, but the Universal will also include an Open API for future innovations – by both for-profits and non-profits alike - to be built on top of this infrastucture. The uChek Cloud is an Opt-in feature. All data will remain confidential unless explicitly shared by the user.Additionally, the entire Cloud system is being built to comply with existing regulations and best practices in health information privacy and security.

 

 

Compatibility

The Universal's App works on iPhone and Android smartphones.

uChek Universal will be available on both Android and iOS phones

Most Android and iOS phones with cameras above 3MP are supported by the uChek app. We have successfully tested a device-agnostic algo. We will continue to test performance on each phone model in the list below before we release the app. So, if you have any of the following handsets, you should be all set.

iOS: 
iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4

Android:
Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2; Samsung Note 3, 2; Samsung Ace
HTC One, HTC Evo, Moto Razr, Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus
Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia J

Note: If your phone does not feature in the list above, we recommend holding off reserving your uChek for until we extend this list further.

Clarification: uChek is not designed for and does not support the iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini or any other tablet. 

uChek Universal

 

 Accuracy

The uChek system has been rigorously tested for accuracy, both internally and externally, and found to be comparable to commercially available lab urine analyzers. Here is our accuracy data.

The key to this somewhat startling accuracy? Well, 2 things:
a) The Cuboid, which standardizes lighting conditions for the test strip
b) The Smarts in the App, which makes sure there are multiple cross-checks against possible errors (may they arise from human mistake or hardware malfunction!)

So, there it is.
We told you it packed quite a punch, didn't we? :)

 

The Ask

We know you liked using the first version of uChek, and (from your emails so far!) have fallen in love with the first images of the uChek Universal. We’re uber-excited with the power of this gadget. As you read above, it packs quite a punch!

 
We need your help to bring the Universal home.

We have the budget to actually make the thing (thanks uChek first version sales!). But to get it to you, we need regulatory clearances and a production system to match.

We know the uChek is accurate. To get clearances, there is a well defined process, well documented protocols to follow. Studies, documention, filings with the regulatory agencies for approval. We plan to comply with ISO 13485 and CE marking, the medical device standard of the EU. This is internationally recognized, within Europe, as well as by most nations in Africa, Asia, and by Canada, Australia, India, etc. 
We will also apply for FDA 510k clearance, accepted in the United States

As innovators, we want to provide access to everyone but completely believe in doing so in a way that does not compromise patient safety in any form. The device we build should not only be accurate and reliable: It should be certified by a competent independent authority to be accurate and reliable. We are confident in the product we have built and this certification process is exactly what we want to work towards. But before we incur these production and regulatory related expenses we need to check if our users are on board - if there is a large enough market who values this. 

...You tell us :-)

 

 One for you, one for me

And here's an exciting thing to ponder: uChek will be as useful to you, (presumably a consumer in the 'West') - as to a non-profit community health clinic in a remote outpost in India.

If you were adminstering that clinic in that far flung corner of the (so-called) third world, striving to provide healthcare to the local community at less than USD 0.20 per test, and being unable to afford $2000 automated urinalysis machines, wouldn't YOU like to have a machine that does the job just as accurately, but using an affordable Android smartphone instead? 

And what if you could also now start using the cloud based electronic health record system to help your patients track their histories? An unprecedented advancement, a tremendous utility for the next visit of the patient! 

We think mobile phone based health is big - not just for you, in your home, but for that clinic and patient, in the field in some corner of India.

Join us, and be part of the revolution that brings health to all, that perhaps, just perhaps - begins to democratize healthcare.

 

Perks

All uChek devices would ship after CE and FDA clearances.

 

Meet the Biosense team - the makers of uChek

Dr. Abhishek Sen 
Abhishek has a background in biomedical engineering from IIT Bombay and a MBBS in internal medicine from T.N.Hospital. He is a fellow at the University of Washington and focuses on research and entrepreneurship on med tech targeted at the developing world. He is an Echoing Green Fellow, 2010. 

Dr. Yogesh Patil 
Yogesh holds a MBBS in internal medicine from T.N.Hospital Mumbai. He has a management background from the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management, IIT Bombay. Yogesh's other responsibilities at Biosense include co-ordination of clinical research and patent strategy. 

Dr. Myshkin Ingawale 
Myshkin has worked at Mckinsey & Company as a business consultant. He has also been a researcher at MIT as part of the team that conceptualized and built the Copenhagen Wheel, demoed at the United Nations Climate Summit '09. Myshkin holds a PhD in Management Information Systems from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Bhopal.He is an Unreasonable Fellow 2011 and a TED Fellow 2012.

Aman Midha 
Having worked with the automotive industry at Tata Motors as an interior designer, Aman now looks forward to improving health outcomes in the developing world with appropriately designed medical devices. He holds a M.Des from IIT Delhi and a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Bhopal. Aman is an Echoing Green Fellow 2010 


Board of Directors


Micaela Ratini 
Micaela is the co-founder of Insitor Fund. Prior to co-founding Insitor Fund, Micaela worked at strategy consulting firm Bain and Company in Milan, where she led start up, turnaround and merger and acquisition engagements for leading European financial groups. Before joining Bain in 1998, Micaela was part of the Finance and Risk Management group of Arthur Andersen Business Advisory. Most recently she worked in Cambodia, where she is currently resident, supporting an international social enterprise group in the turnaround of its existing businesses, and in setting up its international expansion in five countries across Asia. 

Samir Sood 
Samir Sood is a Director at India Forge. Prior to this Samir Sood was the Head of South Asia, Australia - M&A and Investments for Google Inc and has led investments in India such as Seedfund, Erasmic Venture Fund and Ventureast TeNet Fund II and acquisitions in mobile sector such as $750 million acquisition of AdMob. Samir is also responsible for Google.org’s investment activities in the region. Samir was a member of the Corporate Business Development team at Cisco Systems, Inc. where he lead wireless acquisitions and investments, which included the $450 million acquisition of Airspace. Samir executed the first venture investment in India (India Games) for Cisco Systems, Inc. among many other acquisitions and investments. Samir has also had roles at Microsoft and Lehman Brothers. 

Mukesh Sharma 

Mukesh is a co-founder of the SME Investment Bank. He is a mentor at CIIE as part of a MentorEdge network. He is also an advisor to Villgro, a Chennai based impact focused incubator. He is a Chartered Accountant and a CFA charter holder. He has earlier managed a private equity portfolio (AUM US$250m ) and led investment banking mandates (US$200m) in India, Middle-East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. 

 

FAQs

Q. What is the difference between the original uChek app (v1.0) and the upcoming Universal's app?

A. One important distinction with the Universal is that it makes use of the data it generates, to provide meaningful information to the user. Over and beyond data, it provides actionable information, early advice...
Some of the likely causes of abnormalities are detected, so that the user can take preventive or corrective action that would not have been possible without this early warning signal. 
e.g. Here are a few conditions that cause abnormalities and are detected: 
Pancreatic causes of obstructive jaundice
Eclampsia
Infection (Staphylococcus)
Inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion
Proteinuria
Heart failure
Parathyroid glands complications
Pernicious anaemia
Infection
Damage caused by the passage of kidney stones.
Alcoholism
Urinary tract infections.
Liver failure
Acute golmerulonephritis
Injury to the urinary tract
Diarrhoea
Renal failure
Damage from excessive exercise
Tumours of the urinary tract
Diabetes
Infection (E.coli)
Early stage nephropathy
Pyelonephritis
Dehydration
Hepatic necrosis
Pyuria
Multiple myeloma
Acute tubular necrosis
Overconsumption of Vitamin C
High protein diet
Excessive fluid intake (oral or IV fluids)
Malaria
Medication: tetracycline
Inflammation
Pre-eclampsia
Infection (Klebsiella)
Starvation
Metabolic acidosis
Medication: lithium
Medication: cephalosporins
Hypertensive nephropathy
Pregnancy
Damage to the glomerulas
Hypercalcemia
Biliary tract infection
Malignancies
Low carn diet
Haemolytic anaemia
Glucosuria
Medication: penicillin
Kidney Stones
Liver disease
Myoglobinuria
Diet of acidic fruits
Diabetic nephropathy
Traumatic catheterization
Renal calculi
Hepatitis
Cirrhosis
Urinary tract infection
Respiratory acidosis
Muscular disorders
Kidney disease
Trauma
Damage from Excessive smoking
Contamination from the vagina during menstruation

...LONG list, eh? :)

We are able to do this by using historical data from the medical literature. This is what enables the early warning markers from the data: e.g. early signs of kidney disease, that would otherwise never have been picked up until symptoms manifest themselves elsewhere (at which point "prevention" is not an option, rather the patient has to manage the condition, not a good position to be in). This is not a replacement for a doctor - it is in fact an early warning system designed so you don't delay going to the doctor at the first sign of trouble, and nip problems in the bud, before they escalate.

For many of the data driven services, we are offering support for uChek cloud, from where innovations in this area can keep coming from, from ourselves and other researchers all over the world. This of course, also means that we build the system to comply with existing security and privacy standards for health data.

 

Q. What are the parameters measured by the Universal? 

The Universal measures 14 parameters through routine urinalysis: 
Glucose
Protein
Urobilinogen
Calcium
Blood
Creatinine
pH
Ketone
Bilirubin
Specific Gravity
Nitrites
Leucocyte
Ascorbic Acid
Microalbumin

 

 

Q. Why does the clinic or lab need the $2000 automated urine analysis strip reader anyway? Why can't the strips be read visually?

 

A couple of reasons why strip readers: semi-automated or automated urinalysis machines are preferred:

a. It is not convenient to read 8 or more parameters visually, in sequence, with a 120 second timer ticking. 

Different color pads need to be checked against the reference colors and each corresponding parameter needs to be noted at precisely 30, 40, 45, 60 etc seconds. These timings are important as these are the times at which the reaction matures for specific chemicals on the strip. After this the colors and reference colors against the parameter values on the chart may not match, and therefore, reading at the wrong time means getting the wrong result. 
b. Subjectivity introduces error. 

Human eyes measure color differently, in different ambient lighting conditions. Machines have consistently fared better than humans in this department. 

There are studies in the scientific literature documenting some of these issues. 

For example: 

"Semi-automated vs. visual reading of urinalysis dipsticks", Peele JD Jr, et al, Journal of Clin Chem, 1977 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/923074/

 

Q, How accurate is the uChek? Does it work the same across all lighting conditions, across all phone models?

uChek is comparable in accuracy to many commercially available semi-automated urinalysis machines, when used correctly. Check here for our accuracy data. 
We are able to provide this high level of accuracy, along with built in checksums for different errors, using our ingeniously simple Cuboid, and lots of smarts in the app software!

Got more questions? 

Email us at info@uchek.in or reach Myshkin directly at myshkin@uchek.in

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