The objective of this initiative is for at-risk people to control their hearts. Technically speaking, the project has been developed by Cuatroochenta.
Cuatroochenta, a company located at the Science, Technology and Business Park of the Universitat Jaume I (espaitec) has promoted, along with its new promoting company Blast Off Partners, a smart bangle linked to an app that can detect arrhythmias in real time to prevent strokes. This bangle was 100% devised and developed in the Valencian Community (Spain) for at-risk people so they can control their hearts. What was only a fantastic idea a couple of years ago is about to become a reality with Rithmi, which has successfully passed the first tests with patients in a private hospital in Valencia. In parallel, the accelerator of emerging companies, Lanzadera, has selected it to give it the final boost.
Rithmi is backed from a scientific-medical viewpoint, and is a key issue to identify the reliability and ability of eHealth or mHealth projects. Along with entrepreneur Óscar Lozano, the promotional team of this project includes José Vicente Lozano, a doctor who specialises in family and community medicine, and Joaquín Oscá, a cardiologist and researcher of international importance. Three top research centres are also supporting it: the Valencia Institute of Biomechanics by developing and validating the algorithm; the La Fe Institute of Health Research by running tests with the device in a real setting; the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of the Universitat Jaume I (UJI) by hardware R&D.
Strokes are the first cause of death in women and the second in men; artrial fibrillation detection, the most frequent type for cardiac arrhythmia, has been revealed to be key in its prevention, and is increasingly based on patients’ self-control. Nowadays, a diagnosis can be made by performing an ECG (electrocardiography) and a Holter ECG, which consist in outpatient monitoring using an inconvenient apparatus that involves wires and sensors stuck to skin, which also needs a 24-hour period. Rithmi intends to revolutionise the form of diagnosing these arrhythmias with a simple convenient method that makes self-control for people with arrhythmias, people who practice sport or the general population accessible via a portable device like a smart bangle and an app in a mobile phone. It can be used permanently anywhere and at any time.
Rithmi technology is based on a recording system with photoplethysmography (PPG), a sensor that measures the intensity of the light reflected by the skin’s surface and of red corpuscles to allow the volume of blood to be determined at all times. The data that the smart bangle collects generate a wave of pulses from the heart with which it can determine when each heartbeat takes place. One of the project’s critical points was developing the algorithm (now validated by the Valencia Institute of Biomechanics) that is able to detect possible arrhythmias in the heart to allow users’ health to be monitored and followed up while they undertake their daily activities, whose accuracy comes very close to that of an ECG. Finally, the data monitored by the bangle are transferred to a mobile application and a web to be followed up by a warning system.
Two years work with an experienced team
The origin of Rithmi dates back to Stroke Strike, an online platform set up to prevent strokes, promoted by the same team that won the international One Mission One Million competition in 2011. Cuatroochenta has participated in its development since 2014, which was when it began to conceive the app to detect arrhythmias. The initial programming, the first tests and the corporate image design were performed at its headoffice at espaitec of the UJI to then be taken over by today’s CTO of the project, Alejandro Castillo. Moreover, the participation of company promoter linked to Cuatroochenta, known as Blast Off Partners, is also a determining factor to seek financing.
After more than 2 years of hard work, the first results with real patients have been obtained. A private hospital has this year run two tests with patients, which detected two arrhythmias in real time that were later confirmed by Holter ECG. The La Fe Hospital in Valencia has accepted to run artrial fibrillation detection tests with Rithmi in patients with arrhythmia to verify if the bangle works properly.
Finally, there is the acknowledgement of having been selected by an accelerator of emerging companies, Lanzadera, for its «Garage» programme, which means being transferred from its co-work centre, Espacio Base, to the Valencia Port installations, plus a financial injection of €32,000. These milestones have drawn the attention of publications in the journal Emprendedores, and have strongly marked the way forward with a clear goal: Rithmi will soon be on the wrists and in the mobile phones of thousands of people to help them look after their hearts.