June 20, 2019
The “Industrial Value Creation Program” launched by Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) was designed to help the academic department to turn knowledge into reality. They drew attention from the business world and were able to facilitate orders between business and start-ups. Professor Wu, from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU), led his team to create a software that can be able to contactlessly measure vital signs. This “image based vital sign measurement” technology is capable of measuring heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs with medical-grade precision. Its application in both the healthcare and finance industry has great potential. Professor Wu then created FaceHeart inc. and got investment from MediaTek Inc. and orders from Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank, Ltd. FaceHeart Inc. is currently at a valuation of over 18 million dollars.
The Political Deputy Minister of MOST, Mr. Xu, pointed out that there is a global trend in businesses’ participation in innovation. The “Industrial Value Creation Program” has been promoting this idea. It has pushed over 10 different businesses and raised over 36 million dollars. Despite foreign angel investments and venture funds, local businesses also participated in most of the start-ups. When the academic field finds support from businesses, it will be able to develop innovations that will create more value for the society.
The technology developed by Professor Wu and his team solved a major issue the smartwatches in the market have: inaccuracy during large and sharp movements. Through a camera, their technology is able to accurately detect one’s heart rate and blood pressure within a 2-3bpm accuracy. These data can be used even when the subject is in motion. Furthermore, their team was able to eliminate the requirement of a high-quality camera. A camera with a frame speed of merely 30fps will be enough for heart rate measurement.
Professor Wu shared that the process of commercializing the product took 5 years of intense research and full support from MOST and their programs. The popularization of long-term care and recent scientific breakthroughs has always been a hot topic for major manufacturers and businesses. MediaTek Inc. has already set eyes on FaceHeart Inc.’s technology and has invested close to 2 million dollars.