Non-Invasive Alerts: AerBetic talks to Beyond Type 1
Editor’s Note: AerBetic is ramping up to release diabetes alert sensors, engineered to utilize gas sensor technology that is wearable and non-invasive. Beyond Type 1 spoke with AerBetic’s founder, president and CEO Arnar Thors and co-founder and COO Eric Housh. The company is currently looking for beta testers to provide feedback on their current technology, the form to sign up can be found here.
Where did you get the idea for AerBetic?
Arnar: A few years ago, I was picking up my dog from a kennel and I noticed they were training diabetic alert dogs. So I became aware of the ability of a dog to assist with diabetes monitoring. Then we started partnering with AerNos in San Diego, who developed the gas sensor. And with the scale and the sensitivity of the sensor, it just clicked that we could use that technology to basically replace the dogs.
Eric: We’re headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and diabetes is a disease that hit this region seemingly particularly hard – it’s prevalent around where we are.
How does the technology work? What is the size of the sensor?
Arnar: We’re training these sensors and we identified key gasses for indications of highs and lows. So we’re using that for individuals, who are giving us input and feedback from their actual glucose readings and we’re applying machine learning to make the device better for that person over time. So currently, we’re bringing this to market as an alert device – it doesn’t give you an actual number and will still require user input… The sensor itself is 3 mm x 3 mm, so it’s very small. It can easily be integrated into other packages. We’ve got different form factors: one is a B-ring that can be clipped onto a backpack, one’s got a clip so it can be clipped on the waist or lapel, and one is the wearable device.
Eric: The research that we’re operating on and what we’re building the concept around, is that there’s essentially a cluster of nine to ten biomarkers [for risk of diabetes] and the concentration does fluctuate pretty closely with blood glucose levels. And within those biomarkers, there are timelines. What we’re finding out is that pattern is unique to everyone. Everyone has their own pattern of how those biomarkers change. And that’s one of the big problems we’re solving with this product.
Can you speak to the accuracy of the device? Is there a margin of error?
Arnar: Most everything that has occurred up to this point is laboratory-based so that’s why we’re excited to get our beta chips out there, first with a select group of people and then we’ll expand as we grow confident. Then we will be able to give a plus or minus 10 or plus or minus 20. We’re in the recruitment phase for beta testers right now. We have a link on our website and we’re asking anyone interested to be part of it to sign up there. We’re thinking it’s going to be second quarter of this year when we’ll launch into beta or the very early stage of beta and again, we’ll expand that group size as we go.
Do you have a target date for a public launch?
Arnar: We’re targeting the middle of 2020. We are still early-stage, so any sort of support, specifically in terms of beta testers willing to help us with data collection and feedback is helpful. We really invite those conversations – check out our Facebook page.
Are the notifications on the device itself or on the phone? Do alerts come in the form of vibrations or alarms?
Arnar: Notifications are on both. Alerts will be on the device itself. There will be haptic and there will be visual, so LEDs will give you an alert and then also alert the phone. We wanted it to be able to alert without necessarily having the phone there, but then use the phone so that it can push to other caregivers.
Will the device be covered by insurance?
I think once we can teach providers or show them the ability of this being a tool to help keep folks within a safe range, I think we will be able to get it covered by insurance. But initially, we’re assuming this is just a direct-to-consumer product.
Is it battery-operated or do you charge it?
Arnar: It will be rechargeable — we’re talking similar to Apple Watch battery life, so anywhere from a day, to a day and a half, depending on how the beta turns out… And the good thing is, if it’s next to you on your nightstand, that should be good enough. That’s another thing that we’re testing right now, but it goes back to the dogs. A diabetes alert dog senses down to parts-per-trillion and they can sense it across the room. We’re not quite as good as a dog, but we’re down to the part-per-billion level so the device should be able to just be within arms-reach and be able to detect highs and lows.
Are there any other uses for this technology? Could it be used as a diagnosis tool?
Arnar: Potentially… As this technology advances, the ideal platform for this is to be in a fitness tracking device. So whether it’s an Apple Watch, a Fitbit, a Timex – to be able to integrate with the sensors and technology that they’re using so that you can start catching Type 2 or prediabetes before it’s diagnosed.