Meet Scanadu, an innovative health tech startup I daresay you’ll be hearing a lot more from in the future. It’s not the easiest of tasks explaining what the company is building at this point, but let’s call it a personal, mobile, auto-diagnostics product – they refer to it as a Medical Tricorder.
Founded in January 2011 by a team of entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds, the roots of Scanadu actually go way back. One of the company’s founders, and its chief executive officer, is Walter De Brouwer – something of a legend here in Belgian entrepreneurial circles, and beyond.
He says he had the basic idea for a personal health monitoring service back in 1999 when he was working at the renowned Starlab research institute, which he jump-started alongside MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. And from watching Star Trek.
“Sci-fi stories are business plans in disguise,” De Brouwer tells me, referring to the invention of the mobile phone, which was inspired by the Star Trek communicator. “I’ve tried to build the Tricorder once before, in 1999 at Starlab, but the technology was too immature.”
De Brouwer says the idea resurfaced in his mind in 2006, when his son was hospitalized for 3 months following a serious accident. So he conjured up the idea of using one’s smartphone as a personal doctor of sorts, leveraging many of the things modern cellphones can do to help people auto-diagnose and manage many of the easily identifiable health conditions that may arise.
Scanadu’s first product, the ‘Medical Tricorder’, is built specifically with parents with kids in mind, and to help avoid expensive trips to hospitals based on insufficient information and/or anxiety.
“Today, the health tools in your home probably consist of a thermometer and a box of band-aids. We can do a lot better,” says co-founder and COO Misha Chellam.
The company has worked with IDEO to create a video that captures its core vision well that includes the quote I used for this posts’s headline, albeit paraphrased. You can watch it below.
Scanadu has raised $2 million from a network of global angel investors, including Playfish co-founder Sebastien De Halleux, and is currently moving the team from Belgium to the San Francisco Bay Area (the lab is being established at NASA’s Research Park).
The company is building a core team of biomedical engineers, software and hardware developers, and AI specialists. They also have a Medical Advisory Board that includes Stanford-affiliated Dr. Daniel Kraft and Dr. Jordan Shlain, founder of Healthloop and Current Health.
Scanadu is currently seeking technology partnerships with telemedicine and diagnostic technology startups, and hiring more people to join its quest to build a personal ‘pocket doctor’.