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The $11m health watch that wasn’t

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  A screenshot from the website advertising the Jupl smart watch A screenshot from the website advertising the Jupl smart watch

A smart watch company co-founded by Sir Ray Avery has launched its wristwear-cum-personal alarm products - albeit without the functions envisioned when the business won a high tech award and $10 million total investments from Spark and Bupa reports Eloise Gibson for Newsroom.

The project to develop Avery's "brainchild" also qualified for up to $1 million from the taxpayer-funded Callaghan Innovation.

The watches were originally pitched as smart medic-alert bracelets for a growing older population. They would record the wearer’s heart rate, temperature and other vital signs and track them using cloud-based software, automatically triggering an alert if there was a worrying change in pattern.

The idea attracted accolades and in 2016 Avery suggested the technology could disrupt the personal health insurance market.

Instead, the company, Jupl (pronounced ‘JOO-pill’), launched a much simpler package in May that includes a 3G watch made by Samsung, with a personal alarm button a user can press to be connected by phone, via Spark’s mobile network, to a nominated friend, family member, or call centre. The call centre can phone an ambulance if needed.

The promise of the biometric watch proved a wrist too far in development.

Jupl’s CEO and co-founder with Avery, Alan Brannigan, told Newsroom practical issues had emerged with using automatic alerts, because, for example, people wear watches with varying tightness.

“It's fair to say that we are not using the metrics as originally intended or claimed in the past,” Brannigan said. “We adjust based on feedback from users and a better understanding of how the device/platform performs and what the data sets tell us.”

“With regards to heart rate, we found that triggered alerts off patterns is difficult to control because you are so dependent on how the user wears the device (the tightness/looseness of the straps will change the heart rate signal recorded, for example).”

Brannigan noted that the Samsung Gear watches include a heart rate sensor, from which Jupl’s software can collect and analyse data, alongside movement and GPS-tracked location. . . . . . .