• Justin Sun wins record setting bid for iconic Zodiac NFT collection

    Justin Sun wins record setting bid for iconic Zodiac NFT collection
    (12 Digital Zodiac Heads auction poster/ Photo from TRON)

    Justin Sun, founder of the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem TRON, purchased a highly symbolic NFT collection of 12 Digital Zodiac Heads for a record price of USD1.55 million (RMB 9,832,500) last week. 

    The 12 Digital Zodiac Heads, auctioned by Metapoly XM, a brand under Poly Auction (Xiamen), is the NFT art collection that draws inspiration from the legendary Chinese Zodiac animals. 

    Traditional vs. digital: why the 12 zodiac animals matter

    The twelve zodiac animals are well-known symbols of Chinese culture and philosophy.  As a tradition dating back more than 2000 years, Chinese families assign their newborns a zodiac animal matching the lunar calendar year of their birth. These zodiac animals are supposed to represent and influence one’s personality, character and fortunes through life. Countless artworks have been created based on the twelve zodiac animals. Among them, the twelve bronze animal heads of the Old Summer Palace, lost during the Second Opium War of 1860, are the best known worldwide.

    Poly Auctions’ parent company, state-owned Poly Corp., had previously purchased three of the animal heads for repatriation, and now displays four of them, along with replicas of the remaining ones, in a Beijing museum.  

    To many observers, Sun’s collaboration with Metapoly XM to reunite the venerated national symbols in the digital world not only cements his stature as a world-leading NFT collector, but also indicates his grander ambitions in the world of digital art and philanthropy. 

    (12 Digital Zodiac Heads/ Photo from TRON)

    Justine Sun has his eyes on the NFT market 

    The NFT art market has seen explosive growth in recent years. Public data showed that NFT art transactions hit USD17 billion in 2021, a whopping 200-fold increase from just a year ago. 

    Global tech giants including Meta, Microsoft, Disney, and Tencent,  as well many international celebrities, have made big moves in the NFT market. But how do sellers and buyers benchmark the prices of NFT artworks properly? What are the true values of  NFT artworks? 

    Afterall, blockchain-based ecosystems are helping to build a bridge between the traditional art world and the evolving digital world. Sun has predicted that half of the world’s top 100 artists and artworks will be turned into NFTs in the coming decade.

    Sun is a visionary in his field. At the age of 26, he founded TRON in 2017, a blockchain-based operating system. Today, TRON has become one of the world’s largest blockchain and crypto ecosystems, boasting over 84 million users worldwide and average daily trading volume of USD1.5 billion on its networks.

    With a history degree from the prestigious Peking University, and a master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania, Sun is no stranger to the world of arts and culture. In recent years, he has purchased some of the world’s most famous masterpieces of art for his personal collection. The latest additions to this impressive ensemble include: the Nose (Le Nez),  purchased for USD78 million at Sotheby’s New York Fall Auction in 2021, Pablo Picasso’s Femme nue couchée au collier (Marie-Thérèse) purchased for USD20 million, and Three Self-Portraits by Andy Warhol for USD2 million, at Christie’s 20th Century Art Evening Sale. 

    Sun has since tokenized most of these artworks and launched the NFT artworks publicly. 

    APENFT Marketplace is coming

    Last March, the APENFT Foundation was established with a mission to turn the world’s top artworks into NFTs. The foundation has received world-class technological support from TRON, the world’s largest blockchain ecosystem, and Bittorrent File System (BTFS), which provides the most advanced decentralized file storage system. 

    As the biggest supporter of APENFT, Sun has donated unique tokenized versions of the above-mentioned masterpieces, as well his USD6 million NFT artwork OCEAN FRONT , by the renowned crypto artist Beeple, to the foundation. 

    The foundation aims to create and promote more high-quality digital assets through financial and technology support, helping more people to understand and get access to NFTs. In time, APENFT plans to expand its exploration and expertise into digital entertainment, culture preservation, and other fields.

    (Screenshot of the APENFT website)

    The foundation is currently testing its NFT platform, APENFT Marketplace, and plans to launch it soon. Industry insiders expect that one of the animal heads in the 12 Digital Zodiac Heads collection will be listed on APENFT Marketplace. 

    OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace today, is valued at USD13.3 billion after a latest funding round in January, the same month its trading volume topped USD 5 billion. Is the upcoming APENFT Marketplace going to become a strong challenger to OpenSea? Anybody who knows Sun’s passion and ambition would have little doubt of the question. But that may only be a start. 

  • Huami unveils Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 smartwatches

    Huami unveils Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 smartwatches

    On September 22, world-leading cloud-based healthcare services provider Huami (Nasdaq: HMI) released two new flagship smartwatches, Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2, in Beijing. The smartwatches boast upgraded health monitoring features, more intelligent features, and competitive prices.

    Strengthened health features

    Huami, whose mission is connecting health with technology, is making health monitoring and management more accessible through its cloud-based services and self-developed AI chip.

    And its strategy is paying off, as Huami has maintained its dominance in the global smartwatch and other smart wearables sector. According to a report by researching firm IDC, Huami’s Amazfit smartwatches ranked 5th in global smartwatch shipments, with a total of 1.74 million units shipped by the first six months this year. During the same period, Xiaomi wristbands designed and manufactured by Huami, ranked top in the global shipments with a total of 1.34 million units shipped. 

    The Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 feature blood oxygen monitoring capabilities through the OxygenBeatsTM data engine, which can measure oxygen levels with an accuracy of 96% and deviates only 1.67% from clinical measurement tools. Monitoring blood oxygen levels is an important tool for detecting Covid-19. Notably, Huami recently established a lab with Dr. Zhong Nanshan, China’s Anthony Fanci, to use smartwatches for follow-up treatment of COVID-19 patients. Huami will provide the researchers Amazfit GTR 2 watches to further assist their lab work.

    The watches are packed with other cutting-edge features, including the newly upgraded BioTracker™ 2 PPG sensor and RealBeatsTM biological data engine, which monitor users’ cardiovascular health. Moreover, the watches include enhanced sleep pattern monitoring capabilities with OxygenBeatsTM and SomnusCareTM. These biological data engines monitor users’ sleep breathing quality and provide recommendations for improving sleep quality.

    More intelligent features 

    Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 smartwatches boast upgraded offline intelligent voice assistants With this feature, users can initiate 70 different voice commands without an internet connection or Bluetooth. 

    Fitness monitoring is another important feature of the new Amazift smartwatches. With ExerSense™ and Huami-PAI™, two data engines that aid exercise activities and with built-in optimized high-precision GPS+GLONASS positioning systems, Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 can record motion trajectories without being connected to smartphones. With the current 12 fitness modes (which will be upgraded to 90 modes), the smartwatches not only provide rich data records, but also generate exercise analysis reports which help users continuously improve their fitness plans. Finally, the watches feature 50-meter water resistance, which allows users to swim or dive while wearing them. 

    Additionally, Huami has customized its smartwatches’ music features by partnering with NetEase Music, a popular Chinese music streaming service. Users can access the NetEase Music App with both Amazfit GTR 2 and Amazfit GTS 2 and can auto-sync their favorite playlists, as well as directly play or download music.

    Amazfit GTS 2

    The rollout

    The Amazfit GTR 2 comes in two versions: the sports model priced at RMB 999 (USD 147) and the classic model priced at RMB 1099. The Amazfit GTS 2 is available in black, grey and gold. Both products are sold across China on largest ecommerce sites including JD, Tmall, Suning, as well as Amazfit offline stores.

    Besides the new smartwatches, Huami’s Amazfit ZenBuds, the wireless sleep aid earbuds which were unveiled at the 2020 CES in January, are also available for purchase via online and offline stores. Priced at RMB 999, Amazfit ZenBuds can monitor users’ sleep quality in real time and helps them sleep better with its noise-blocking in-ear design and interactive music modes.

    In August, Huami released its Q2 financial report which showed steady growth despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Huang Wang, Huami Chairman and CEO, announced the company raked in RMB1.137 billion in revenue with 9.5% growth in the second quarter. The company will continue to spend on smart R&D to improve its smart wearable technology.

    (Top photo features Huami CEO Huang Wang rolling out Amazfit GTR 2; Photos from Huami)

  • Genetron Health joins hands with the National Cancer Centre to tackle early cancer screening in China

    Genetron Health joins hands with the National Cancer Centre to tackle early cancer screening in China

    Genetron Holdings Limited (Genetron Health; Nasdaq: GTH), a leading precision oncology company, has participated in a significant national research project for early screening of lung and digestive system cancers led by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The project was launched on August 29 in Beijing and was opened by Sizhen Wang, Genetron Health’s co-founder and CEO, as well as Jie He, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of the National Cancer Centre of China (NCC).

    Genetron Health specializes in molecular profiling tests in China and has become an industry pioneer. The collaborative project aims to achieve breakthroughs in liquid biopsies for cancer screenings. This includes building a highly sensitive, efficient, and affordable liquid biopsy-based early detection technology platform and developing proprietary cancer screening and test kits.

    Dr Jie Wang and Sizhen Wang (from left to right) /Photo from Genetron

    Why Genetron Health

    The collaborative project will include a prospective cohort lung cancer study of 120,000 high-risk individuals in 20 Chinese provinces. The partners are also setting up a cohort study of digestive system cancers which will include more than 100,000 patients in urban areas and the Huai River Basin in southern China. The study will build on earlier research from NCC and may be one of the largest of its kind in the world. 

    Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in China. According to a 2019 report fromNCC, about 4 million Chinese people were diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and there has been 3.9% annual growth in the incidence of cancer over the past ten years. In many cases, Chinese patients come to seek treatment when their cancers have reached a terminal stage. Therefore, earlier screening, detection, and treatment can effectively improve the clinical outcomes of cancer patients. 

    Existing cancer diagnosis and screening mechanisms, however, only use a single biomarker target that lacks precision, specificity, and sensitivity, which can lead to poor testing accuracy. Thus, to create better early detection technologies, it is necessary to collaborate with diagnostic services companies that use  DNA sequencing technology.

    “We chose to partner with Genetron Health for its leading technology capabilities, and we expect to develop a proprietary malignant tumor screening and early detection testing kit that  will significantly improve the survival rates of those who suffer from cancer,” said Dr. Jie Wang, a leading researcher of the project and a director from the Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

    Genetron Health is now the only company in China that is involved in national-level research and development projects for liver, lung, and digestive cancer early screening. Genetron Health and the MOST plan to adopt the company’s self-developed Mutation CapsuleTM technology which requires only a small amount of blood to simultaneously detect methylation and several types of gene mutations in ctDNA including SNV, Indel, CNV, which lead to cancer. 

    Genetron Health focuses on multi-omics and multi-dimensional data analysis, both of which are promising paths for companies trying to achieve better early cancer screening outcomes. For example, Freenome, an early cancer detection company, recently received financing from Google. The company is trying to roll out its multi-omics platform using molecular biology and machine learning to do early colon cancer screenings.

    In the near future, Genetron Health aims to develop an independent, low-coast early screening product for high-incidence cancer types with the help of its innovative technology. Its long-term goal is to combine the biomarkers of different types of cancer to develop an early screening product for multiple cancer types.

    “We are honored to be involved in this major government-led project based on our Mutation CapsuleTM technology. In addition, we are delighted to apply this technology beyond liver cancer and now into lung and digestive system cancers,” said Sizhen Wang.

    All about Genetron Health

    The collaborative project makes use of Genetron Health’s research on early-stage liver cancer detection. In March 2019, Genetron Health and the NCC/ the Cancer Hospital, CAMS, published the promising results of their liver cancer early screening study in at-risk individuals using liquid biopsies in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It is the world’s first prospective study on early liver cancer screening, according to Dr. Jie Wang.

    Preliminary data from the liver cancer study shows Genetron Health’s technology is accurately detecting cancers. The company has continued to optimize HCCscreenTM, which uses its Mutation CapsuleTM technology. In its ongoing cohort study on liver early screening tests with 2,000 hepatitis B patients, Genetron’s preliminary data on 297 patients demonstrated high sensitivity, specificity (both over 92%) and positive predictive value.

    Founded in 2015, Beijing-based Genetron Health provides a comprehensive product and service portfolio that covers full-cycle cancer care from early screening to diagnosis and monitoring. The company’s mission is to transform global cancer prevention and treatment by driving technological innovation and accelerating the adoption of precision oncology medicine. On June 19, 2020, Genetron Health went public on Nasdaq at USD 16 per ADS, raising USD 256 million, a milestone mark of its kind of company. 

    Genetron Health collaborates with biopharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and research institutions in China and abroad on genomics research and clinical development. It has published about 20 research papers with multiple institutions in prestigious academic journals including Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, PNAS, and others. Genetron Health also offers customized products and services to global biopharmaceutical companies.

    What’s the next big thing in China

    The future of cancer early screening products looks promising. This technology not only provides clinical screening solutions but also has economic value. 

    That’s why the industry has begun to make deep investments in the field of early cancer screening. For example, Grail, the world’s best-funded American cancer detection company, has carried out 4 prospective cohort studies which include over 100,000 people. 

    However, the Chinese market is under-penetrated but even larger. Take liver cancer as an example. It is one of the most common malignant tumors among Chinese people, and more than 50% of new global cases are in China each year. Early screening can largely reduce the mortality rate caused by liver cancer while providing value for investors.

    The Chinese market for early cancer screening products is still in its infancy. The industry is still rather immature, a “vast blue ocean” as Genetron Health CEO Sizhen Wang said at the launch. However, some breakthroughs in early screening technology are drawing near thanks to the widespread use of early screening products, such as Genetron Health’s study and services on liver cancer early screening, he added.

    The early cancer screening market in China will see new companies flooding in. However, the market requires advanced technological innovation, which will be the focus of competition. Genetron Health will continue its emphasis on research and development and commercial operations, which are the foundations of the company.

    “Our goal is to develop tests with high performance and affordable pricing in order to reduce cancer-related healthcare expenses in our country, and more importantly, to save more lives,” said Wang. 

    (Top photo by Colin Behrens from Pixabay)

  • Huami Q2 report shows smart R&D investment boosting growth

    Huami Q2 report shows smart R&D investment boosting growth

    Huami (NYSE: HMI), a leading cloud-based healthcare services provider, released its financial report for the second quarter this week, which revealed the company pulled in RMB1.137 billion (USD161 million) in revenue. Huami shipped a total of 8.9 million units, a 7.2% increase YoY.

    Huang Wang, Huami Chairman and CEO, said, “I am proud of our teams and our brands that generated revenue growth of 9.5% in the second quarter and 21.1% for the first half of 2020 despite the challenges of the worldwide pandemic.”  

    He explained that new products launched in the first half of 2020, including smartwatches, earbuds, and other smart health devices, had helped the company grow despite the economic issues caused by the pandemic. He added that designing new smart health devices and applying Huami’s proprietary health data analysis tools for healthcare insurers and providers will remain important strategies going forward. 

    New technology and smart R&D

    Huami’s mission is to connect health with technology. The company is dedicated to developing new products and technologies. In Q2, it launched its second generation AI chip, the Huangshan-2, which hit the market just 18 months after the first generation AI chip was released. The Huangshan-2 features significant improvements in power usage, data collection, and analytical accuracy. Huangshan-2 can reportedly detect atrial fibrillation 7 times faster than Huangshan-1. The Huangshan-2 chips will be released during the first quarter of 2021. 

    Huami CEO Huang Wang launched Huangshan-2 chip (photo from Huami)

    Also in June, the company released the next generations of its biometric sensors and biometric algorithms that monitor a variety of health metrics. Huami said global consumers have responded positively to its health- and fitness-focused products, approving of their affordability and advanced technology features. Huami’s products are now sold in over 70 countries worldwide.

    In Q2, the company’s R&D expenses totaled RMB117.2 million, an increase of 25% YoY. Huami believes that smart R&D investment is key to boosting the rapid development of new smart devices.

    Overseas shipments and partnerships

    Huami CEO Huang said that in the first half of 2020, the company expanded the breadth of its product offerings. In Q1, its Amazfit smartwatches ranked 5th in global smartwatch shipment volume, according to an IDC report. Sales in the US, Western Europe, and Southeast Asia increased by triple digits. During Q2, the newly released Mi-band 5 also became a hit. Huami aims to maintain its momentum and is planning to soon release its new Zepp line of smartwatches .

    In June, Huami announced the launch of its Huami AI Research institute, which aims to drive innovation in healthcare big data in the wearable device industry by working with the world’s leading scientists and researchers. In July, Huami established a lab with Zhong Nanshan, China’s Anthony Fauci, to use data from wearable devices to follow up with recovered COVID-19 patients in China.

    Also in July, Huami’s wholly-owned subsidiary, PAI Health, announced an agreement with Prudential Corporation Asia to incorporate its science-backed activity metrics into Prudential’s Pulse digital health app.

    Impact of Covid-19

    Huami’s Q2 financial report also addresses the impact of Covid-19 on the global retail sales across industries. China recovered and opened many retail establishments toward the midpoint of Q2. However, many Asian retailers said that shoppers have been slow to return, which negatively impacted Q2 sales. In the US and Europe, continued Covid-19 outbreaks have kept many stores closed. As a result, global retailers reduced their inventories and orders during the second quarter. 

    Still, Huami CEO Huang is positive about the business outlook for the second half of 2020. “While the first half of 2020 was a challenging period for all of us, we are proud of our performance in smart wearable product shipments, and the strong execution of our health service strategy. We are confident that our device shipment volume will continue to climb in the second half of the year, and we look forward to delivering value to all of our stakeholders,” he said. 

    (Top photo from Pixabay)

  • Huami’s Fireside Chat: Connecting health with technology

    Huami’s Fireside Chat: Connecting health with technology

    Huami (NYSE: HMI), a cloud-based healthcare services provider, held a Fireside Chat conference call with American investors on July 21 to discuss the company’s mission, strategies, products and operational plan. Main speakers included its Chairman and CEO Wang Huang, CFO David Cui, and COO Mike Yeung.

    Huang, the CEO kicked off the call by sharing the company’s mission and vision of “connecting health with technology.” The company will continue to realize this primarily through its smart wearable products, which are able to collect personalized data that is used to improve healthcare services including health monitoring, diagnosis and treatment. However, Huang outlined several key challenges that the wearables industry has yet to overcome, such as quality of data collection, validity and accuracy of data analysis, and users’ adoption rates of monitoring technology and long-term engagement.

    “Huami’s mission is to address many of these challenges with its growing products and services portfolio, to achieve our vision objective of improving health through the application of technology,” he said.

    AI chip and data quality

    During the call, Huang explained that the company has been working to address these issues, including by improving the quality of data collected from smart wearable devices. In June, Huami announced the second generation of the Huangshan AI chip, one of the core technologies powering Huami’s wearable products. The Huangshan-2 chip features significant improvements in power savings, data collection and analysis accuracy. It is reported that Huangshan-2 detects atrial fibrillation 7 times faster than Huangshan-1 and 26 times faster than competing chips. Moreover, Huami wearable’s detection of atrial fibrillation is far more accurate, identifying cases at a rate of 93.27%, according to a study done by Peking University First Hospital last year.

    Along with the launch of Huangshan-2 AI chip, Huami also rolled out the BioTracker™ 2 sensor, a bio-tracking optical sensor based on PPG technology that collects biological data 24/7. The new sensor supports five of the latest biological data engines: RealBeatsTM, OxygenBeatsTM, SomnusCareTM, ExerSenseMT and huami-PAI™. RealBeatsTM sensor monitors wearer’s cardiovascular health by keeping track of their heart rate, while OxygenBeatsTM measures respiratory levels and blood oxygen saturation. SomnusCareTM data engine keeps track of the wearer’s sleep data and is able to identify whether they suffer from sleep apnea, a common danger during sleep. ExerSenseTM and huami-PAI™ are useful during fitness activities, automatically identifying the type of exercise appropriate for the wearer and setting reasonable fitness targets.

    Huang said that to improve the company’s innovation in wearable technology and healthcare big data, it opened the Huami AI Research Institute, and is also in the process of partnering with Professor Ramesh Jain, a well-regarded AI scientist from the University of California, Irvine. The Institute has already launched three joint labs with leading Chinese universities to develop smart wrist wearables, improve data analysis on fitness, and study brain-computer intelligence. By expanding its AI research capabilities, Huami is able to secure its data credibility and further develop its technological capacity, enabling it to upgrade and launch its products more efficiently.

    Huami also began PAI Health’s partnership with Prudential Corporation Asia.  It reflects the value of PAI’s algorithm (Personal Activity Intelligence), and is a great example of the kinds of business relationships we are beginning to build. 

    In June, PAI Health published new clinical proof of the value of its unique heart health algorithm based on a 15-year longitudinal study of 56,000 people in Dallas.  The PAI metric provides actionable intelligence to consumers and clinicians which can result in improved heart health and longevity.  Continuing to operate under its own identity, PAI Health is working to establish relationships with insurers and clinicians to leverage this intelligence to improve member health.  

    Consumer adoption and long-term engagement

    Huami has a clear view on its product positioning and target groups. Huang said that consumers always look for new features and leading-edge technologies or products that are perceived as good value. He believes Huami may be “the industry’s leading driver of value for the dollar,” as the company develops its own Amazfit brand and continues the partnership with Xiaomi as the developer and manufacturer of its Mi-Band products.

    “The strong value proposition of all our products is a factor in any market we enter,” COO Mike Yeung commented at the conference call.

    With innovative technologies such as the AI chip and bio-tracker sensor, Huami’s smart wearable products offer strong values at reasonable price points. Take the Amazfit T-Rex as an example. The smartwatch is now hitting the market in the U.S., which features 12 military-spec certifications, both GPS and GLONASS, 5 atmosphere water resistance, and a 20-day battery life, all while priced at USD139.99. Xiaomi’s latest Mi-band 5, designed and manufactured by Huami, is about to hit the market in Asia and Europe, priced at about USD45.

    Huami continues to upgrade the Amazfit series and roll out new smart products. Their most advanced product yet, Amazfit X, is scheduled for launch this fall, and features a 92 degree dramatically curved display with buttonless operation. At CES in Las Vegas in January, new products unveiled by Huami include the Amazfit Home Studio, a smart gym hub; Amazfit AirRun, a foldable treadmill; and two new hearables, Amazfit PowerBuds and ZenBuds. Amazfit PowerBuds was awarded “the Best TWS Fitness Earphones” from IDG.

    Leading the global market

    Leading the industry of fitness tech and wearables, Huami ranked top 5 in both global watch shipment and market share in the first quarter of 2020, according to IDC. With a year-on-year growth of 80.2%, Huami outperformed the overall growth rate of the adult watch market. In addition, Huami Amazfit ranked No. 1 by shipments in Spain, Indonesia and India. Huang said that the 42.3 million units of Amazfit, Xiaomi and Timex products they shipped last year accounted for 26% of the global market, generating USD835 M in revenue in 2019 and USD1.29 M in fully diluted GAAP earnings per ADS.

    Huami managed healthy growth due to its “lesser reliance on markets in China and further expansion into the United States, Europe, and other parts of Asia,” according to IDC. Yeung, the COO, mentioned that 2020 may be a year of “reaching critical mass and accelerating [their] business” in the U.S. market. Huami has been expanding distribution channels and launching new products in America, with Amazfit products now available online through Best Buy, Amazon and several other specialty online retailers, as well as through the Amazfit website. Mike Yeung also announced that their products will be expected to be available in Walmart stores in the U.S. by September.

    Operational updates

    Huami’s lab with Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s team (In the centre: Huami’s CEO Wang Huang and Dr. Zhong Nanshan)

    Huami has continued the resiliency of its first quarter revenue growth into the 2nd quarter, despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, CFO David Cui said in response to an investor question during the call. Nevertheless, Cui said that the company is raising their guidance for Q2 2020 revenue from RMB1.1 B to RMB1.14 B (USD 155 M to USD160 M), based in part on its strong operational cash flow, which allows it to withstand the impact of the pandemic.

    More importantly, Huami expended lots of energy ensuring their products could help the public cope with COVID-19, focusing on the role of wearable devices to improve public health management. The company has been doing research analyzing biometrics and proposed AI models to predict the spread of COVID-19. With smart wearable devices, Huami aims to update their ability to monitor an individual’s biometrics to detect signs of COVID-19, such as flu-like symptoms. On July 15, Huami established a lab with Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s team to use data from wearable devices to follow-up with rehabilitated COVID-19 patients in China.

    (Photos from Huami)

  • Huami aims to upgrade healthcare infrastructure through its AI innovation and research institute

    Huami aims to upgrade healthcare infrastructure through its AI innovation and research institute

    On June 15, cloud-based healthcare services provider Huami (NYSE: HMI) unveiled its latest chip for wearable devices, Huangshan No. 2, its new sensor BioTracker™ 2, along with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm for health big data at the the AI Innovation Conference in Hefei, Anhui Province. Huami CEO Huang Wang also announced the launch of a new institute, Huami AI Research.

    The Huangshan No. 2 chip is the upgraded version of Huangshan No. 1, which was launched in 2018. The new chip uses the advanced RISC-V structure, the IoT era’s most promising design, which boasts the fastest processing speeds and efficient energy usage. Huangshan-2 is faster than its predecessor due to improved local biological data computing technology. For example, it can identify atrial fibrillation 7 times faster than Huangshan-1 and about 26 times faster than other chips. It is estimated that the Huangshan-2 chip will go into mass production during Q4 this year and that new chip-powered wearable products will debut during the first half of 2021.

    AI data engines 

    In a 2019 letter, Huang Wang mentioned that those keen to make use of data must make sensors themselves. At the conference, Huami showed it has followed through, as it launched the BioTracker™ 2 PPG sensor, which enables Huami’s five latest biological data engines. BioTracker™ 2 is the most accurate human biology sensor Huami has developed so far. With the great AI computing capacity that Huangshan No. 2 offers, BioTracker™ 2 may become the world’s leading wearable sensor. The set of five new biological data engines has brought Huami’s current data analysis to a whole new level. 

    RealBeatsTM, a biological data engine launched by Huami in 2019, is used to monitor the wearer’s cardiovascular health and identify abnormal signs through heart rate data analysis and ECG (Electrocardiograph) readings. The newly launched RealBeatsTM 2 has improved on the original by eliminating signal noise disruptions from sports and more effectively and quickly monitoring atrial fibrillation. 

    Another Huami biodata engine, OxygenBeatsTM, monitors blood oxygen saturation, an important vital sign that has gained prominence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The device marked an important milestone recently, as its readings deviate only 1.67% from those of other blood oxygen monitoring tools available in the market. Partnering with Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s research team, Huami will provide COVID-19 patients follow-up management using OxygenBeatsTM technology to monitor blood oxygen saturation. New smartwatches with OxygenBeatsTM will be available by 2020 Q3. 

    Studies on sleep data have always been a focal point of Huami’s research. The new SomnusCareTM AI engine makes use of Huami’s large healthcare data pool and will help users better understand their sleep patterns and nap behaviors. Sleep apnea syndrome is a hidden killer, but by pairing OxygenBeatsTM and SomnusCareTM, Huami will help users identify sleep apnea and remind them to seek professional medical advice. 

    Heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and sleep pattern monitoring are the main pillars of Huami’s healthcare infrastructure. However, Huami has also set up an epidemic early alert forecast model with its health data and other external factors. With the additional data engines, the model will make epidemic forecasting an essential part of Huami’s healthcare infrastructure.

    On top of the vital sign monitoring applications, fitness is another important segment of Huami’s business. At the conference, the company introduced ExerSenseTM and huami-PAI™, two biological data engines that aid fitness activities. ExerSenseTM can automatically identify when wearers are exercising, while Huami-PAITM helps users set reasonable fitness targets based on their age, gender, resting heart rate, and other biological information.

    Huami AI Research

    Huami’s own chips, algorithms, and sensors are driving the rollout of a comprehensive healthcare management infrastructure. Huami announced that it is now shifting its focus to AI development. The institute, Huami AI Research, will drive innovation in healthcare big data in the wearable device industry by working with the world’s leading scientists and researchers. Huami Vice President Wang Kongqiao is the director of the institute and will be working with Professor Ramesh Jain, a well-regarded AI scientist from the University of California, Irvine. The institute’s recently-formed research committee is chaired by Wu Feng from the University of Science and Technology of China and consists of 7 leading researchers specializing in AI, sensors, and medical and other studies. Huami announced the institute will undertake a strategic partnership with voice recognition startup Unisound to collaborate on smart voice assistant technology.

    As Huami pivots to AI research, the company’s development and enhanced research capacity have laid a solid foundation to continue building the healthcare ecosystem in the long run. The institute’s first three labs cover a wide range of research interests, from practical clinical research and fitness training applications to advanced human-machine interactions. It will be exciting to see how Huami further improves its wearable devices and expands its AI research horizons. 

    (Top photo from Huami; photo features Huang Wang, Huami CEO)

  • The 3.0 era for China’s bike-sharing business is coming. What’s it about?

    The 3.0 era for China’s bike-sharing business is coming. What’s it about?

    Hellobike, China’s leading bike-sharing service platform, recently announced that the industry has entered the “3.0 era.” Hellobike believes that bike-sharing in China is set to play an increasingly integral role in fulfilling public transportation services. But why?

    What is the “3.0 era”?

    Following an initial era of vicious competition and high cash burn rates, the bike-sharing industry has now shifted its focus to financial sustainability and higher profit margins. According to a report released by Dongxing Securities, this was caused by changes in the competitive landscape of the industry, which has raised prices and increased the profitability of the bike-sharing business model. 

    “The bike-sharing industry has passed the early stage of extensive growth and cash burning. The business now comparatively relies on technological innovation and focuses on refined operation and management,” Hellobike’s co-founder and CEO Yang Lei said at a press briefing on April 27 in Shanghai.

    Hellobike executives also said the company’s bike-sharing business made some profits last year; since last March, the e-bike business in particular has seen an increase in profitability. In addition, Yang also revealed that the company has healthy cash flow and relatively ample cash reserves.

    Going forward, the bike-sharing industry’s new “3.0 era” will see growing cooperation between companies and the government, with shared-bikes playing an increasingly indispensable role in public transportation networks. As a greener and more efficient way to get around, shared bikes help to ease traffic congestion in cities. Everyday, more than 1 billion rides are completed on two-wheeled vehicles in China. 

    One challenge that remains unresolved is the orderly parking of shared bikes. Randomly parked bikes often obstruct roads and can cause temporary traffic jams. Consequently, municipal transportation commissions in many cities including Beijing and Shanghai have introduced policies to regulate bike parking, and bike-sharing companies have dedicated themselves to solving the problem and improving maintenance.

    “We are looking for new ways to co-manage the disorderly parking with the government with the help of new technologies,” said Chu Yiqun, a manager of Hellobike.

    This year, in cities such as Shanghai, Hellobike has piloted a new mode of parking shared-bikes at designated locations using bluetooth road nodes, launched in a new initiative last year. Within a certain parking area, the nodes can scan the bikes and tell whether users have properly parked them. If not, the nodes will transmit commands to the bike: The lock of the bike flicks open to warn the user, telling them the bike is parked in an improper location. As a result of the new features, the city of Shenzhen allowed Hellobike to distribute an additional 750,000 bikes to the city, all equipped with the new parking capabilities.

    New technology is driving much of the changes in common practices across the bike-sharing industry. Last August, Hellobike upgraded Hello Brain, a smart transportation OS that incorporates big data, cloud computing, and AI-based technologies to help streamline the distribution and maintenance of bikes. The smart system can monitor bike distribution in different areas and provide real-time updates to the company’s staff; this helps improve the efficiency of bike redistribution and avoid bike congestion in certain areas.

    Shared-bikes at designated locations

    Era 1.0 and 2.0, relics of the past

    About five years ago, when the bike-sharing business started to grow in China, investors  poured cash into the industry, reinforcing its rapid growth. That period was considered the “1.0 era” in the bike-sharing industry, and was characterized by direct competition between the startups Ofo and Mobike. Founded in 2014, Ofo, had received millions of dollars over several funding rounds from investors including Shunwei Capital, DidiChuxing and Alibaba. Similarly, Mobike secured large funding rounds from investors including Tencent and Sequoia Capital upon its launch in 2015. To compete over market share, the two startups burned through cash, bleeding “billions of dollars offering freebies to get customers,” according to Bloomberg.

    The cutthroat competition came with a price. In 2018, the founder of Ofo admitted the company was considering bankruptcy, leading users to clamour for the return of their deposits. According to the report from Dongxing Securities, Ofo’s problems were due mainly to its rapid expansion into new markets and its failure to control cash flows. Earlier that year, Mobike was sold to China’s group-buying giant MeituanDianping for USD 2.7 billion, and has since been rebranded as Meituan Bike. 

    But despite these struggles, the bike-sharing industry still showed promise; this was realized through more innovation and competition. While Ofo and Mobike were busy battling for markets in big Chinese cities and overseas, Hellobike, a company founded in 2016, outmaneuvered the two start-ups by conquering China’s 3rd and 4th-tier cities. The company has since grown into the largest bike-sharing platform in China, claiming that 300 million users have taken more than 12 billion trips on its vehicles in the past 3 years; today, it operates in more than 360 Chinese cities and supports more than 20 million daily rides. Notably, China’s ride-hailing giant Didi also entered the bike-sharing business in 2018, with the launch of its bike-sharing brand Qingju. Qingju just finished its series A funding round this April. 

    In the new “2.0 era,” companies are focusing more on customer service, efficient maintenance and cost control. Hellobike was the first bike-sharing firm to go deposit-free for all users who meet a certain threshold in Ant Financial’s Sesame Credit system. Hellobike also continuously releases new bike models, to ensure constant improvements in bike quality and the user experience. On March 30, Hellobike launched its fifth model in Guangzhou, Yunxing, equipped with a new smart lock. This came a week after Hellobike’s launch of a new e-bike model, Yunqi, equipped with a  smart voice navigation system that can be connected through Bluetooth.

    The potential for growth in “e-bikes”

    Shared electronic bikes, or e-bikes, can become the new market darling of China’s two-wheeler industry, meeting the needs of users who take trips between 3-8 miles. The travelling experience during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that e-bikes can offer safer transport, helping to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Hellobike, DidiChuxing and Meituan all compete in the e-bike game, but Hellobike now boasts the largest market share with over 300 million registered two-wheeler users.

    As a result, Hellobike’s co-founder Li Kaizhu said, “Shared e-bikes will expand even faster than shared bikes this year.”

    The e-bike market is shaping up to be very competitive, with a large number of daily users. Right now about 700 million daily trips are made on e-bikes in China. From September 2017 to the end of February 2020, Hellobike’s e-bikes have expanded to over 320 cities, with a total of 3.7 billion kilometers ridden.

    Moreover, there is a high likelihood that growth in the e-bikes industry will promote the development of the shared battery market. Efficient battery swapping remains a challenge for e-bike providers. Hellobike continues to improve the batteries of its e-bikes, which are supplied by CATL Battery, a leading vehicle battery manufacturer based in Ningde, Fujian Province. In April, Hellobike’s joint-venture with CATL and Ant Financial raised RMB200 M (USD28.3 M) in funding from Hangzhou-based power electronics solution provider Zhonhen.

    Many cities including Kunming and Hefei have welcomed the launch of e-bikes. In November 2019, the City Management Committee of Kunming announced that e-bikes can be launched in the city. Some first-tier cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen currently have a quota system for the launch of shared-bikes based on the operation performance of bike-sharing companies. The method will hopefully be adopted in the management of shared e-bikes.

    China’s bike-sharing business has entered a new stage of healthy competition and development, focusing more on its operation and management and promoting technological innovation. The two-wheeler industry hopefully will see the blooming of shared e-bikes.

    (Photos from Hellobike)

  • Hellobike sees shared bike and e-bike rides resume as Covid-19 pandemic passes

    Hellobike sees shared bike and e-bike rides resume as Covid-19 pandemic passes

    The COVID-19 outbreak has been contained in China over the past few weeks. A remarkable milestone appeared when China lifted the lockdown in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus. The nation may be first in the global community to rebound from the pandemic. More businesses are reopening and people are returning to work. Hellobike, China’s leading two-wheeler transportation platform, said its business has largely recovered, as it is now operating at 80% of where it was over the same period last year. The company estimates its business will return to normal in May.

    Despite the outbreak, the outlook for China’s bike sharing industry is still promising, as investors continue to inject cash into it. In April, Zhonhen pumped RMB 200 million into Hellobike’s joint-venture with CATL and Ant Financial after Hellobike had completed a new round of financing at the end of 2019. Also last month, Chinese ride-hailing platform DidiChuxing’s Qingju Bike reportedly raised USD 150 million  in series A financing.

    Hellobike executives forecast that the business will grow 100% in the year 2020 despite the coronavirus outbreak. In a press briefing on April 27 in Shanghai, they told reporters that last year Hellobike made some profits from its bike and ebike-sharing businesses. And the company’s car-pooling business has expanded quickly, into more than 300 Chinese cities. 

    The Chinese two-wheeler transportation industry has much space to grow. Every day more than 1 billion rides are completed on two-wheeled vehicles in China. Founded in 2016, Hellobike has completed several financing rounds, including funding from known investors such as Ant Financial and GGV. The platform has more than 300 million registered users, 63 million of whom are monthly active users according to a QuestMobile report.

    “Our core strategy is to boost the development of our new businesses, and to continue to invest in new fields and new technologies,” Hellobike’s co-founder and CEO Yang Lei said at the briefing.

    In fact, China’s bike sharing industry has transformed from fighting to attract customers to focusing on new ways to retain and better serve customers. Hellobike’s co-founder Li Kaizhu said at the briefing that the company has recently revamped its app and included more functions including travel route plans, bus-riding QR codes, as well as personal finance and other lifestyle functions. 

    Right now, Hellobike is focusing on the fast-growing e-bike industry. In China, 700 million daily rides are done on e-bikes, more than are taken on regular bikes, and residents in lower-tier markets are driving this trend. Yunqi, Hellobike’s new e-bike launched on March 23, is equipped with a Beidou navigation satellite system and a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, both of which improve rider safety. Together with the e-bike battery swap service launched last year, Hellobike has set up both the vehicle and battery network to roll out e-bike sharing services. Pilot tests in Kunming, Yunnan Province, and Hefei, Anhui Province, showed that e-bike sharing has become very popular among locals. For example, in Kunming, each e-bike is used more than 5 times each day on average, according to Hellobike. Right now, DidiChuxing and MeituanDianping are also investing in e-bikes. 

    While the COVID-19 pandemic heavily damaged China’s economy, it may have revealed new business opportunities for the e-bike industry. In Wuhan, when public transportation was shut down, essential workers rode bikes to work. Hellobike provided free rides for essential workers during the outbreak. Compared with often-crowded buses and subways, bikes and e-bikes are considered safe and healthy, as riders can practice proper physical distancing. The WHO, in fact, recommended bike riding in an April 21 technical guidance manual.

    Hellobike’s data reveals that trips were longer than usual during the outbreak. Customers are likely to maintain their newly cultivated biking habit while China faces the prospect of new sporadic outbreaks, as they have gotten used to the combination of exercise and transportation. Finally, commutes on shared-bikes are increasing as riders look to avoid public transportation. Hellobike’s March 5 morning orders were 3 times higher than average February orders in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. DidiChuxing also reports orders have recovered to about 60-70% of pre-pandemic levels and have increased by 5 times since the outbreak’s February peak.

    China’s two-wheeler market is clearly entering a new era. The future is bright for companies that can seamlessly integrate e-bikes and battery technology with public transportation.

    (Top photo from Hellobike)

  • From Flu to COVID-19, why do wearable devices help public health management?

    From Flu to COVID-19, why do wearable devices help public health management?

    A paper titled “Learning from Large-scale Wearable Device Data for Predicting Epidemics Trend of COVID-19 was published on Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society (DDNS) on May 5. In their paper, 12 researchers from world-leading wearable device maker Huami (NYSE:HMI) developed a framework to predict COVID-19 infection trends using data from wearable devices. The experiment on which the paper is based revealed that Huami’s prediction model can alert public officials in the early stages of an outbreak of COVID-19.

    Using big data for epidemic forecasting is not a new idea. Though useful, many models use official epidemic statistics that are reported after an epidemic has passed and are therefore not applicable in real time. Real-time big data has been used to try to improve the timeliness of predictive models. Google launched its Flu Trends (GFT) model in 2008, which used people’s web searches about flu symptoms to predict outbreaks earlier than the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, GFT failed to achieve its goal because the search queries were affected by social hotspots and driven by users’ self-diagnoses. Indeed many people who have flu-like symptoms get tested and find they actually have other illnesses. The percentage of positive flu tests ranges from less than 1% to about 30%, demonstrating how difficult it is for people to self-diagnose. According to Time Magazine, GFT overestimated the prevalence of flu by 50% due to the fact that user data does not always reflect real trends.

    CDC graph illustrating the number and percentage of flu positive specimens in the U.S.

    Aiming to address the limitations of previous outbreak-tracking attempts, Huami’s researchers proposed a COVID-19 prediction model using physiological data collected from wearable devices paired with an anomaly detection algorithm. Additionally, the researchers performed a correlation analysis to decide whether abnormal physiological signs could predict a virus outbreak. Huami’s team leveraged a data set including 1.3 million users who wore Huami devices between July 1, 2017 and April 8, 2020. Data was obtained with the consent of users and anonymized. All the users were notified that their anonymized data could potentially be used for academic purposes under Huami’s privacy policy. 

    In the study, Huami defined anomalous physiological signs using two key indicators: resting heart rate (RHR) and sleep duration, changes to which can suggest influenza-like illnesses. Each user’s data was compared with the average data, and anomalous readings were determined using standard deviations. Furthermore, to distinguish COVID-19 from other influenza-like illnesses, a heterogeneous neural network regression model was built and trained with data inputs including holiday activity, season, weather, historical  physiological  anomaly  rate,  active  user  density,  and  the  official reported COVID-19 infection rate. The online learning model is constantly updated and trained with newly available official data which has allowed it to better predict the outbreak’s trends.

    The paper highlighted findings in China and Southern Europe, including in Spain and Italy. Wuhan’s data showed the predicted physiological anomaly rate from official data inputs in 2020 fits well with the rate calculated by the anomaly detection algorithm. Researchers also analyzed data from 4 other cities in China and compared them with Wuhan. They found that each of the cities reached an outbreak peak which may correspond to the official confirmed numbers. Taking Wuhan as an example, the results also showed the proposed model could predict the outbreak of COVID-19 as early as 10 days in advance. On the contrary, the lab test and diagnosis results are often delayed because not all patients have access to professional opinions as soon as they develop symptoms.

    The study predicted physiological anomaly rates with official data inputs in 2020 

    The study data on 6 Chinese cities including  Wuhan

    Similar data trends were observed in Europe including Italy and Spain. The predicted infection rate in both countries coincided with the official outbreak numbers. The model found both countries’ outbreaks peaked at least one week ahead of the officially-reported peak. If the prediction model could be trained and applied appropriately, it could provide public health officials valuable lead time to help them better prepare for the next outbreak.

    The predicted COVID-19 anomaly rate is ahead of the officially reported peak of COVID-19 infection numbers in Italy (a) and Spain (b).

    The study revealed promising results for using data from wearable devices and machine learning to predict COVID-19 outbreaks in advance. But the researchers also mentioned some limitations of their data, such as potential issues using information from holidaymakers, as drinking may lead to elevated heart rates which could skew the data. Furthermore, using large data inputs is important for ensuring the validity of results. If a particular age group’s wearable device user base is not large enough, it will be difficult to draw solid conclusions. However, the researchers believe that early warnings are useful for both individuals and healthcare professionals, and they aim to incorporate more data points such as BMI and gender into future research. 

    The wearable device market is expanding. According to Technavio, the wearable technology market will grow by USD 35.48 billion between 2020 and 2024, progressing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 13% over the forecast period. The more devices sold, the more data will be collected. On May 12, Huami announced its unaudited 2020 Q1 financial results which showed a 36.1% revenue increase compared with the first quarter of 2019. During the first three months of 2020, Huami shipped 7.6 million wearable devices, representing 35.7% growth from its 2019 Q1 figures. The report also showed the company spent more on R&D, as innovation is the company’s cornerstone.  

    On April 9, Huami announced a collaboration with Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s team to use data from wearable devices to monitor COVID-19 patients after they’re discharged from hospitals in China. The project will give researchers real-time data to identify abnormal signs that can predict lingering illness. With the development of algorithms and sensor technology, future wearable devices will enable researchers to explore new ways to use data to serve both users and society. When we discuss how big data can help us in the future, one must mention Huami’s contributions to building a healthcare ecosystem with its innovative technology and health data.

    (Top photo from Pixabay)

  • E-bikes offer safe transport during the COVID-19 pandemic

    E-bikes offer safe transport during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Shared e-bikes can become the next big thing in China’s vast transportation market. On April 8 Hellobike, China’s two-wheeler industry leader, announced that its joint venture NingdeZhixiang, a partnership with CATL and Ant Financial, raised RMB200 M (USD28.3 M) in funding from Hangzhou-based power electronics solution provider Zhonhen, which will work with Hellobike to improve its e-bike battery technology. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, citizens are wary of taking public transportation. Shared e-bikes, however, are safe and efficient, which could boost their popularity.

    Yunqi E-bike

    On March 24, Hellobike launched Yunqi, a new e-bike model equipped with smart voice navigation systems which can be connected through Bluetooth. Voice navigation helps users focus on riding and road safety since they do not need to constantly look at their phones for directions. 

    Yunqi e-bikes are equipped with special chips that enable precise navigation and positioning services based on the Beidou system, the most advanced Chinese satellite navigation. It is the first e-bike to use the Beidou navigation system. Hellobike has succeeded in enhancing the location precision of its new e-bikes through enabling “Beidou+GPS+WiFi” functionality, which improves operation and maintenance efficiency by allowing staff to quickly find damaged e-bikes.

    Hellobike has also improved the batteries of its e-bikes which are supplied by CATL Battery, a leading vehicle battery manufacturer based in Ningde, Fujian Province. By forming the joint venture with CATL and Ant Financial a year ago, Hellobike has further expanded its cooperation with Zhonhen to develop battery swapping stations. Moreover, Yunqi e-bikes are set to automatically disable the unlock function if their batteries are below 30% full. This will reduce malfunctions and mitigate vandalism.

    E-bikes in China

    Shared bikes have become popular in China, and the e-bike market is shaping up to be very competitive. Chinese people take nearly 1 billion daily trips on two-wheelers, 700 million of which are made on e-bikes. Companies including DidiChuxing, Hellobike and Meituan are the major players in the e-bike game, but Hellobike boasts the largest market share with over 300 million registered two-wheeler users.

    Shared modes of travel, along with advancing technology and online platforms, have reshaped travel habits in China. Shared two-wheelers ease traffic congestion and take pressure off public transportation, providing users a convenient way to get from subway stations to their offices. While users usually ride shared bikes only over short distances, shared e-bikes are targeted at those who need to take trips between 3-8 miles. E-bikes are more efficient and save labor over long distances.

    E-bikes are constantly improving, as new models come equipped with smarter technology and better batteries. A number of 3rd and 4th-tier cities have welcomed the emergence of e-bikes. However, shared e-bike businesses still face the problems of high costs, bike maintenance, and limited parking. Efficient battery swapping is another challenge for e-bike providers.

    Moreover, shared batteries will soon debut in Chinese e-bikes and scooters, according to a report from Shenwan Hongyuan Securities. Battery swapping stations, where e-bike users can replace dead or dying batteries with fully-charged ones, allow riders to take longer rides with fewer hassles. The future of the shared battery market looks promising, as the number of two-wheeler users continues to expand.

    Potential of shared two-wheelers 

    The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the global community’s well-being and lifestyle over the past few months. During the quarantine in Wuhan, public transport including buses, subways, and taxis was suspended. Two-wheeled options, however, became an important mode of transportation for essential workers.

    According to a report released by the Wuhan Transportation Planning Institute, more than 23 million people used shared bikes during the 2.5-month lockdown, and shared-bike rides made up more than half the number of total trips taken during that time. The areas surrounding designated COVID-19 hospitals saw the most shared-bike usage. On April 8, when Wuhan reopened, local users took ten times as many rides as they did on January 23, the day the city was locked down, according to Hellobike.

    Shared two-wheelers are considered safe and convenient modes of travel during outbreaks of infectious disease. Chinese newspaper Health Times commented that riding alone is safer than taking public transportation. While users can ride shared bikes over short distances, they can make use of e-bikes for longer trips while reducing their risk of contracting the virus.

    (Top photo from Hellobike)

  • Smart wearable devices are helping improve COVID-19 prognosis and health management

    Smart wearable devices are helping improve COVID-19 prognosis and health management

    Huami (NYSE:HMI), a global leader in the wearable devices industry, recently announced a partnership with the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease and Guangdong Nanshan Pharmaceutical Innovation Research Institute that will focus on how  smart wearable devices can help combat COVID-19. The Research Center is led by Dr. Zhong Nanshan, who heads a team advising the Chinese government on the management of the COVID-19 outbreak, similar to the role of Dr. Anthony Fauci in the United States. The three-party collaboration will provide follow-ups and rehabilitation management for COVID-19 patients in China after their discharge from the hospital.

    Huami’s lab in Hefei

    The partnership will utilize a ‘medical-research-corporation’ model, where each party focuses on its speciality in addressing the current challenges of patient post-discharge management. Studies suggest patients in convalescence may still be contagious, and that the reemergence of COVID-19 after discharge is possible. By April 11, there were more than 77,900 patients in China who had recovered from COVID-19. Frequent monitoring and communication is critical to detecting anything abnormal with patients in the early stages of recovery. However, asking patients to visit hospitals frequently, or asking physicians to do home visits, is very challenging and resource-demanding. Wrist-worn devices such as Huami’s Amazfit series can serve as an economically feasible solution to address these needs. 

    For the discharged patients who are willing to join the program and give their consent, they will wear an AMAZFIT Smartwatch. The device collects and analyzes data on the patient’s activities, sleep patterns, and heart rate, and has built-in features to monitor the patient’s health 24/7, including the BioTracker PPG heart rate sensor. It runs on the Huangshan No. 1 chip, an AI-powered chip that allows patients to receive an ECG (electrocardiogram) without visiting the hospital. The embedded RealBeats AI-based biological data engine can identify arrhythmia and warn patients. According to a study done in Beijing No. 1 Hospital, the RealBeats AI technology is about  93% as accurate as what ECGs can do in hospitals.

    When someone is unwell, they tend to sleep more, exercise less and their resting heart rate (RHR) increases. Coupled with RHR data and sleep data, population data trends may help forecast and monitor the onset of infectious diseases, according to an article from the Lancet. In fact, a Stanford University study found that Huami’s devices measure sleep patterns quite accurately. The company has collected large amounts of quantitative healthcare related data, including a cumulative 81.2 trillion steps, 7 billion nights of sleep data and 21.1 billion hours of heart rate data, by the end of this March, under the consent of its users. 

    The data can be used for alerting and warning patients about anything abnormal, as well as for medical research and epidemic forecasts for healthcare professionals on a larger scale. In January, Huami compared the data from its users in Wuhan with those of other Chinese cities and found abnormal physiological trends this year, such as RHR and sleep pattern changes, correlating with the outbreak in Wuhan. It is a hypothesis yet to be verified. 

    To lessen the number of hospital visits patients are required to make, Huami has a VIP healthcare package for its users that includes ECG readings, telemedicine services, appointment services, and in-hospital fast track treatment. The unlimited internal medicine queries included in the package are not intended to replace actual visits that require lab tests, but to better allow users to find quick answers to common questions. If the COVID-19 patients who participate in prognosis management have access to these remote services, they will likely benefit from them through greater safety and efficiency. 

    As of today, the risk of reinfection for COVID-19 and the transmission rate of asymptomatic carriers remain unclear, but China is working hard to prevent a potential second wave of the outbreak. The data gathered from patients who recover from COVID-19 will offer researchers first hand information to produce new findings and potentially guide physicians or pharmaceutical firms in their practices. The data may help find some correlations between the recorded physiological measurements and reinfection cases, as well as identify abnormal trends at an earlier stage.

    Moving forward, the new partnership will dig deeper into the data, in search of findings that will further improve the ability to predict the outbreak and allow the authorities to be alerted and act as soon as possible. 

    From serving customers who seek wellness to those who recovered from COVID-19, Huami is continuing its strategy of building a healthcare ecosystem that connects technology with healthcare for everyone. Huami donated smart watches that can help relieve pressure for healthcare professionals in Wuhan. Most recently, Huami signed an agreement with The Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) to help athletes prepare for the Olympics using the smart wrist-worn devices and earwears. Huami aims to use its data, and analysis conducted by both itself and its partners, to create a health ecosystem in the long-run that better mitigates public health risks.

    (Top photo from Huami)