Vestigen is a Slovak company specialized in new biomedical technologies. They are focused on building smart sensors for portable diagnostic use. The company is working on a Project Ara module which enable users to analyze various types of substances, such as blood or water, to monitor your health or the environment.
Andrej Mošať is one of the founders and CTO (Chief technical officer) of Vestigen. Being a Doctor of Technical Sciences in chemical engineering from ETH Zurich and postdoctoral researcher at The University of Illinois at Chicago, he is also the founder of myspectral.com (experimental spectrometer for lower orbit and earth research).
In a recent interview, he told us the story of Vestigen and many other interesting details on the development of the Project Ara module.
-Can you tell us the story of Vestigen (how the company is born and why) ?
As a child, I always had passion for tools, useful instruments for everyday life. My godmother, the kindest person on earth, passed away due to kidney disease. I remember till this day how difficult and debilitating the disease was, even as a kid.
This experience made me determined to apply research and technology for actual solving health problems and helping people.
Years later, Vincent Touquet and I met at a Startup Weekend, where our project “Check your health from urine”, won a prize. We shook hands and in following months dedicated most of our time to the project. And it certainly paid off, resulting in winning Science Entrepreneurship prize which helped to obtain investment from Brazil. Consequently, we founded a company in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2013. When Alexander Krisko joined the team as a CEO, we combined the technological, entrepreneurial and social worlds to a unique execution force, which specializes in the speed of execution.
Currently, we are building a strong team of passionate and dedicated young people. Together we are making the vision come true as a simple, precise and affordable technology. With our expertise in electronics and chemistry we want to bring blood and water tests from hospitals and labs to the hands of public.
-Can you talk about the Project Ara module and the Liquid Diagnosis technology ? Why have you decided to develop these products ? How this platform will expand in the future (partnership, etc) ?
Such technology has already been here for years, but nobody has yet attempted to exploit it in its fullest. If you think about analysis of liquids, the possibilities are endless. Combining an extremely precise laboratory hardware with the simplicity of glucometer resulted in an amazing and highly versatile innovation. One drop of blood or water can reveal if your kidneys, blood sugar or water are within acceptable limits. This would not be possible without our amazing team members – there were sleepless nights, weekend hackatons, no-vacation summer until we all were satisfied with our results.
Based on the prototype and hard work, our CEO Alexander Krisko was invited to speak at Project ARA developers’ conference in Singapore presenting our vision of ARA health kit for 5 billion people.
As for other cooperations, several global Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations expressed interest in our technology. The common topic in these talks is that our business partners have reach to millions of farmers, patients or athletes, and would like to bring value to their end-customers through on-the-spot liquid measurements. The applications range from precision agriculture to telemedicine. We believe people have the right to demand better tools for their health, to switch from reactive health care to preventive and thus improve their lives.
-What are the positive and negative aspects in the module development ?
The best thing and the worst thing on developing Project ARA modules is: everybody can build one. You have to realize that this is a completely new and unique process, the old models of hardware development do not work here anymore. I do believe with proper team, there is currently no obstacle, no limit in what can be built. Everyone worldwide has access to all required components, plans, ideas and collective knowledge of hardware making.
If your team members, investors, customers and business partners put aside their self-interest for a limited time of just mere months, we could see a major, global break-through in health care, this year. Timing is essential. Luckily, we all can observe digital health care transformation today, see the Obama precision medicine initiative , Apple Research Kit / Health Kit, Samsung Digital Health platform or Google Fit. Therefore I personally believe the time is ripe for truly personal and universal health assistant, such as Google ARA phone with Vestigen liquid diagnosis module.
-What are the basic steps for developing a Project Ara module ?
Although it may look easy, the development process is a tough journey. It requires knowledge of electronics, mechanical engineering and industrial design, so a diverse team is highly recommended. Once you are set, you should study Project ARA pages containing all the details and necessary documents for developers in Module Developers Kit .
There is also the forum discussing development questions, which helps a lot when you get stuck during development.
-Google Atap is helping you ? In what way ?
We were given a chance to show our answer to very important question – “Why is ARA smartphone different than any other phone?”. Our team is thankful for the opportunity to present at Project ARA Devcon2 in Singapore amongst other companies and researchers. Our CEO Alexander Krisko gave an answer, which resonated clearly with the audience and started a discussion about the utility of smartphones of the near future.
-Can you explain the Neprosense technology (in particular, its main features and its arrival on the market) ?
The idea of this diagnostic device and smartphone app was our pilot project, being able to detect kidney health from a single drop of blood. (Vestigen NephroSense) . Later it became clear that it does not have to be necessarily an independent diagnostic device. Through ARA we could make it a part of a phone, something people are so much familiar with and accustomed to use every day. How does it work you can see in our second video “Vestigen vision of modular feature phone for masses on Google Project ARA”
Project ARA announced the release of first phones in Puerto Rico later this year (2015) and we are doing everything in our powers to bring the technology to customers for testing.
-Do you want to add more information or interesting news ?
We are working on the first high-tech lego phone ever. We are thrilled at the idea that our technology can possibly be in hands of thousands of people already this year; We hope this will continue in new dimensions and together we will be able to deliver the breakthrough technology to every part of the world for everyone who can benefit from it.
The original article was posted on the blog of Phonebloks