Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

Tech

Kegg, a connected fertility tracker and kegel trainer for women, launches out of beta

Published

on

Fertility tracking has seen an explosion of startup activity in recent years. Femtech startup Lady Technologies is adding to this rich mix with the full U.S. launch of a dual-purpose device, called kegg, that’s designed to measure hormonal changes in a woman’s cervical fluid to help her determine the chance of conception on a given day.

The egg-shaped gizmo, which features a gold-plated steel cap and band ringing its tip, as well as a silicone tail to house its Bluetooth radio (so it can chat to the companion app), doubles as a connected pelvic floor trainer (the ‘k’ in kegg is for ‘kegels’) — taking a leaf out of UK femtech pioneer Elvie’s playbook. Though the two-in-one function is a new twist.

Kegg relies on a technology called impedance to sense electrolyte levels in a woman’s cervical fluid in order to detect the hormonal switch from estrogen to progesterone dominance that accompanies ovulation — via a daily test that’s touted as taking just two minutes. (If you’re also using it for the optional kegal exercises that would take a bit longer.)

“A minute electrical impulse at a specific frequency is emitted from the gold plated electrodes on the kegg and received by the other (this process is then reversed). By sensing the changing trends in the impedance, we’re able to detect the hormonal change and make a prediction to the user,” explains CEO and founder Kristina Cahojova. “Since every woman’s fluids are slightly different, kegg needs to record at least one fertile window to provide personalized predictions.”

“We have numerous patents on the underlying design of kegg and key aspects of how it operates,” she adds.

Kegg was unveiled on the TechCrunch Disrupt SF stage, back in 2018, as part of our startup battlefield competition (though it didn’t go on to win). Fast forward two years and it’s now officially launching out of beta to offer the FDA-registered gizmo to the U.S. market — priced at $275.

It’s announcing a $1.5M seed round too, with investors including Crescent Ridge Partners, SOSV, Texas Halo Fund, Fermata Fund and MegaForce, as well as some unnamed angel investors.

Commenting in a statement, Samina Hydery, kegg advisor and women’s health investor, said: “Investor interest in femtech and fertility has accelerated over the last few years. While I’ve seen an influx of ovulation prediction kits, at-home blood tests, menstrual tracking apps, and temperature monitors in the consumer market, kegg’s value proposition became clear once I spoke with women about their experiences trying to conceive and medical researchers in the field. It’s hard not to get excited by the various growth vectors that can expand kegg’s market in the future — from being used as a tool for natural family planning to helping monitor postpartum/perimenopausal health.”

“We pride ourselves in having almost half of our investors women,” notes Cahojova — whose inspiration for building kegg was personal; having suffered from irregular menstrual cycles herself.

“I didn’t want to be treated with hormones. When I talked to fertility instructors or a specialized fertility doctor, all they wanted to know about was my patterns of cervical fluid. Why? Because the fertile window is defined only by the presence of fertile cervical fluid, having a positive LH [luteinizing hormone] test is nice but it won’t help you get information to fix your cycles. That’s why so many fertility doctors are interested in cervical fluid and that is why so many women are told to track it with their fingers,” she explains.

“How on earth are you supposed to be able to track objectively something so important, yet, private without the help of technology? I was frustrated and angry that every company that I talked to didn’t have a solution and didn’t want to make this so needed product because it ‘would have to go into the vagina’. So I set out to make a product that would help me and women like me.”

Thus far kegg has been hitting a chord with U.S. women of reproductive age who are trying for a baby, according to Cahojova — who says her startup has built a 2,000-strong community of fertility-tracking women over kegg’s beta period.

“Our typical user is a woman in her reproductive age,” she says. “Our users are in long-term relationships or married and they likely have been actively trying to conceive for more than three months. Fifty percent are trying to conceive their first child, while the remaining are already mothers.

“Our customers have experience with BBT (body basal temperature charting) or LH tests (ovulation tests) and they are overall interested in holistic fertility and wellness, not in medication. They also prefer the convenience of kegg over other methods that either need to be worn throughout the night or used more frequently.”

Image credit: Lady Technologies

“Each woman is unique and so are her cycles,” she adds. “Unlike ovulation trackers, kegg helps women understand their fertile window and cyclical fertility and follow their own patterns. Usually women take up to six months to learn how to read cervical fluid patterns. Our customers report that kegg gives them confidence and they feel empowered. Many keggsters conceived with kegg after years of trying because kegg gave them trends beyond ovulation. Nothing makes me more happy than an email from a customer whose life changed thanks to my work and kegg.” (On that it says “several” women have reported successful pregnancies using kegg since the beta launch in 2018.)

The startup also has its eye on international expansion, including to Asia (with the support of its Japanese-market focused investor Fermata) — with a plan to launch kegg in Singapore in late October, and in Japan and Canada next year.

While the kegg has a core focus on fertility tracking (and a secondary feature as a connected pelvic floor trainer), Cahojova is excited about wider possibilities for women’s health that she hopes will be opened up as they’re able to take in and crunch more data.

Kegg users’ impedance readings are uploaded to the startup’s cloud for analysis, so its algorithms can make a personalized fertility prediction. But its website also notes it uses ‘anonymized/pseudonymized’ data for research into women’s health. (Cahojova specifies users’ personal data is never shared outside the company. “Any data we offer to researchers we work with is completed anonymized,” is her privacy promise.)

Asked what areas of research she’s hoping kegg will help advance, she tells us: “Researchers have noted that health issues can affect typical electrolyte cycles. In many of our internal studies we’ve seen examples where readings were ‘out of norm’ for the user. In case after case we found evidence of underlying health issues (for example infections) were the cause. In the future our goal is to understand how kegg can help monitor overall cervical health.”

Cahojova also says the device is being used by fertility instructors and doctors to help with monitoring their patients. “The beauty of kegg is that by having a user friendly and modern device that women like to use we can get data on changes of vaginal fluids on a large scale. With kegg data we also hope to help doctors finally answer their billion dollar question — how can they improve the quality of cervical fluid.”

“We are supportive of science and are open for research collaborations,” she adds. “We provided kegg for independent peer-reviewed clinical study under Dr.Gabriela López Armas, MD, PhD, for her research on kegg and other fertility trackers. All the participants finished the protocols in summer of 2020 and the study is to be published independently in the near future.”

While the business model for kegg is currently fixed price hardware sales, Cahojova says the startup is looking at offering subscription packages in future. “In the future, we want to offer more to our users, e.g.: connecting them to specialists to review their cycles or view of additional layers of information. Once we have enhanced services ready, we’ll look at switching to a subscription model,” she adds.

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Juniper Networks acquires Boston-area AI SD-WAN startup 128 Technology for $450M

Published

on

Today Juniper Networks announced it was acquiring smart wide area networking startup 128 Technology for $450 million.

This marks the second AI-fueled networking company Juniper has acquired in the last year and a half after purchasing Mist Systems in March 2019 for $405 million. With 128 Technology, the company gets more AI SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN is short for software-defined wide area networks, which means networks that cover a wide geographical area such as satellite offices, rather than a network in a defined space.

Today, instead of having simply software-defined networking, the newer systems use artificial intelligence to help automate session and policy details as needed, rather than dealing with static policies, which might not fit every situation perfectly.

Writing in a company blog post announcing the deal, executive vice president and chief product officer Manoj Leelanivas sees 128 Technology adding great flexibility to the portfolio as it tries to transition from legacy networking approaches to modern ones driven by AI, especially in conjunction with the Mist purchase.

“Combining 128 Technology’s groundbreaking software with Juniper SD-WAN, WAN Assurance and Marvis Virtual Network Assistant (driven by Mist AI) gives customers the clearest and quickest path to full AI-driven WAN operations — from initial configuration to ongoing AIOps, including customizable service levels (down to the individual user), simple policy enforcement, proactive anomaly detection, fault isolation with recommended corrective actions, self-driving network operations and AI-driven support,” Leelanivas wrote in the blog post.

128 Technologies was founded in 2014 and raised over $97 million, according to Crunchbase data. Its most recent round was a $30 million Series D investment in September 2019 led by G20 Ventures and The Perkins Fund.

In addition to the $450 million, Juniper has asked 128 Technology to issue retention stock bonuses to encourage the startup’s employees to stay on during the transition to the new owners. Juniper has promised to honor this stock under the terms of the deal. The deal is expected to close in Juniper’s fiscal fourth quarter subject to normal regulatory review.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

The iPhone 12 won’t support 5G in dual SIM mode at launch

Published

on

Apple’s latest iPhone supports 5G networks, but not if you use the device in dual SIM mode, according to an internal Apple training document revealing the issue that began circulating on Reddit over the weekend.

Dual SIM mode is a feature introduced on the iPhone line with the iPhone XS, and it’s useful for those traveling or staying abroad (or people who maintain work and personal lines on the same device) by allowing both a physical Nano SIM line and data-only service from another carrier using an eSIM simultaneously.

But that apparently interferes with the iPhone 12’s ability to run on 5G networks, at least for now. Here’s the wording from the Apple document:

“Does 5G work with Dual SIM?”

When using two lines in Dual SIM mode, 5G data isn’t supported on either line and will fall back to 4G LTE. If customers are using eSIM only and are on a 5G supported carrier and service plan, they’ll have 5G access.

Apple is reportedly planning an update to fix the issue later this year, according to MacRumors, which cites an internal Verizon slide detailing the company’s 5G support for the iPhone. For now, you can access 5G networks on the iPhone 12 with either a Nano SIM line or an eSIM, so long as you use only a single line at one time, meaning any eSIM users will have to remove the physical card from their iPhone 12 to access 5G speeds.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on its plans to fix 5G compatibility while using an iPhone 12 in dual SIM mode.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Should You Wear a Mask Outdoors?

Published

on

woman in mask runs down a beach path at sunset

Photo: ParinPix (Shutterstock)

Masks protect us from the coronavirus, indoors as well as out. But do you really need a mask outdoors? In some cases, you can go bare-faced, but you should still have a mask in your pocket just in case. Let’s talk about the factors you should consider when deciding if a mask makes sense outdoors. (When in doubt, wear one anyway.)

Advertisement

Outdoor air dilutes the virus

One of the problems with indoor environments is that some of the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus are tiny. Indoors, the air containing these droplets has nowhere else to go. That’s why outdoor dining makes more sense than eating indoors, for example. The risk isn’t zero; there have definitely been super-spreader events at backyard parties and very likely a certain Rose Garden political event.

Advertisement

Many factors contribute to whether an interaction is likely to be a higher or lower COVID risk, and being outdoors generally takes the risk down a notch.

Brief encounters are low risk

Next we have to consider what you’re doing outdoors. Considering that Rose Garden event for a moment, should you wear a mask if you know you’re going to be near other people for hours, shaking hands and hugging? Absolutely. In fact, you probably shouldn’t go at all. That goes double if you know the other guests have been disregarding safety measures until now.

Advertisement

But passing somebody when you’re out jogging is a different scenario. To understand this more intuitively, it may make more sense to think of someone with bad breath or who has been smoking recently. Would the scent be overwhelming if you’re in the same park with a few such people? Or would you just detect a mild whiff as they pass you on the trail?

Very brief encounters, like passing someone as you jog or bike past them, may not be zero risk, but they are very low risk. “Any single brief, passing exposure is low-risk, but such exposures might add up over time,” airborne transmission expert Linsey Marr told the South China Morning Post. Wearing a mask makes sense if you’ll be encountering many people while you’re outside. It’s also a reasonable precaution even if you won’t.

Advertisement

Decide based on circumstances

It makes sense to think of the different layers of safety, and use a mask as one of them. If you’re outdoors, exposures are short, and people are nearly always more than six feet away, the mask doesn’t add much protection. If you’ll be encountering many people—for example, on a busy city street—a mask is a helpful safety layer to include.

Advertisement

I don’t wear a mask for most of my outdoor walks and runs, but that’s because I know I’m unlikely to come within six feet—or even ten feet—of anybody else. I go for walks on a quiet neighborhood street where I rarely pass anyone and can cross the street if I do. I go for runs on paths where I’m often the only person there.

But since I prefer to jog without a mask, I’ve given up my favorite running path, the one where I’d probably pass at least one or two people each minute. (If I did jog there, I’d definitely wear a mask; but since most other people on that trail are maskless, it feels like it’s not worth the risk.)

Advertisement

There is no official answer as to whether you should wear a mask outside. The CDC suggests that if you can’t stand wearing a mask when exercising, you should consider moving your workout outdoors. The University of Maryland Medical System says that masks aren’t needed if you’re outdoors alone, but that if you’re jogging down the sidewalk you should mask up. If your city or state gives guidelines for when to wear a mask outdoors, follow those. If not, consider the factors above and wear a mask anyway when in doubt.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending