Amid The Device Hype, This Startup Is Taking Wearables To Heart

Play associated audio

There's been a lot of talk about wearable devices being the next big thing in the technology world. It's easy for the hype to get ahead of the products, but there's actually some serious innovation going on.

"What we're going to see over the next couple years is going to be extremely exciting," says Dan Ledger of Endeavor Partners, which consults with the companies that are inventing wearables. "As the technology improves ... we're going to get devices that solve a lot of useful and unique problems for a lot of people out there."

Quanttus, located near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is trying to find those solutions. The startup is called Quanttus because its products will quantify human health, says Vice President of Product Development Jordan Rice. Rice used to work on wearable technology at Nike, before Quanttus recruited him.

Unlike simpler step-counting bracelets, Quanttus' products will have a cluster of tiny, sophisticated sensors. An object smaller than a fingernail can measure the body's biological signals.

Rice won't say exactly what all the sensors will track — that's still secret. But some will probably record metrics like heart rate, temperature and blood pressure.

He won't say what form those sensors will take, either: They could be bracelets, necklaces or something else entirely.

David He, who co-founded Quanttus after graduating from MIT, says his products will likely first be used to track patients with heart problems.

"Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer, and it all boils down to this pump inside your body ... that drives everything," he says.

He uses a car analogy to explain: "It's like you're an automobile and there's the car engine."

Automobiles have 15 to 20 computers monitoring all the time, and a mechanic can get the data that your car has stored.

In the future, your doctor might do the same thing, but would get it from a wristwatch that has been quietly gathering the information about you.

That's bound to create privacy concerns, but venture capitalists are pouring money into all kinds of wearable startups. In the past couple of months, Quanttus has grown from 25 to 40 employees.

Wearables still need a lot of improvement, yet the innovation continues. A report in February counted 79 different companies with wearable technology products — and that doesn't even include the newest or more secretive startups, like Quanttus.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


No Meekness Here: Meet Rosa Parks, 'Lifelong Freedom Fighter'

As the 60th anniversary of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott approaches, author Jeanne Theoharis says it's time to let go of the image of Rosa Parks as an unassuming accidental activist.

Internet Food Culture Gives Rise To New 'Eatymology'

Internet food culture has brought us new words for nearly every gastronomical condition. The author of "Eatymology," parodist Josh Friedland, discusses "brogurt" with NPR's Rachel Martin.
WAMU 88.5

World Leaders Meet For The UN Climate Change Summit In Paris

World leaders meet for the UN climate change summit in Paris to discuss plans for reducing carbon emissions. What's at stake for the talks, and prospects for a major agreement.


Payoffs For Prediction: Could Markets Help Identify Terrorism Risk?

In a terror prediction market, people would bet real money on the likelihood of attacks. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Stephen Carter about whether such a market could predict — and deter — attacks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.