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New in-ear device promises to predict fainting, help understand dizziness and brain fog

STAT earpiece in a person’s ear.

Courtesy: STAT

Digital health startup STAT Health has designed a device to help people better understand why they’re experiencing symptoms like dizziness, fainting and brain fog. 

STAT Health on Tuesday announced its new in-ear wearable, the STAT, which measures blood flow to the head. When users stand up, the earpiece automatically tracks changes in their heart rate, blood pressure trend and blood flow, which are useful insights for patients who commonly experience dizziness and fainting spells as a result of illnesses like long Covid and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), among others. 

Users can track their metrics in an app on their cellphone and glean insights into how their lifestyle choices affect their symptoms. The STAT earpiece has also proven to predict fainting minutes before it happens, according to peer-reviewed findings published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology this year. 

STAT Health CEO Daniel Lee said the wearable is not diagnostic and it is not a form of treatment but that it can serve as a resource for a patient population who are often told their symptoms are not real. 

“This population, a lot of doctors actually can’t measure that anything is necessarily wrong with them,” Lee told CNBC in an interview. “They’re told it’s just in their head because there’s not a way to measure it. But there is a way to validate that there’s something wrong and their experiences are legit.”

Lee said the STAT will help give patients access to real-time insights to help them decide when they can push themselves, and when they should take it easy.

STAT Health co-founders hold the earpiece.

Courtesy: STAT

Lee co-founded STAT Health in 2020 with Paul Jin, with whom he previously ran Bose’s Health Product Innovation Group. Lee said he set out to build the company after his father, who faints regularly due to heart problems, passed out and broke six ribs. 

“He just pushes through it and he ends up not being able to predict when it happens, that’s why he keeps hurting himself pretty badly,” Lee said. “So that’s where we started, that’s what inspired us to say, ‘Let’s try to see if we can measure something.'” 

The Boston-based startup has grown to around a dozen employees, and the company has raised $5.1 million in seed funding to date, in addition to separate grant funding it received from the U.S. Air Force. 

The STAT wearable is small and sits in the upper nook of the ear. Its placement means it is compatible with most other devices like headphones or glasses that sit in or around the ear. Lee said the device is meant to be comfortable, and users can leave it on while they are in the shower or sleeping. 

The earpiece is made up of an optical sensor, an accelerometer, a pressure sensor and temperature sensors. The battery life lasts over three days, but it is also fitted with a small solar panel, which means some users might not even need to take it off to charge.  

“It’s just supposed to be comfortable, stable, get good signal quality in the midst of your normal daily activities,” Lee said. 

STAT Health said it is targeting a $50 a month subscription for its device, and it will aim to decrease the cost over time for long-term subscribers. Pricing is still subject to change, but the company is taking preorder reservation deposits of $1 for the earpiece starting Tuesday. The deposits will save a spot in line for earlier access.

Lee said he thinks the STAT device will ultimately help patients learn about their bodies and what works best for them. “The goal is, give them a tool to measure what matters so that they can live a normal life more of the time,” he said. 

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