Health IT, Startups

This startup’s technology relies on hand gestures to monitor eating and drinking behaviors

Through its technology for the Apple Watch, Klue can track how much and how quickly a consumer is eating and drinking, as well as offer up occasional reminders to stay hydrated or eat more mindfully.

Wearables are nothing new. But a startup out of San Mateo, California, is approaching the space through a different lens.

Katelijn Vleugels cofounded Klue in 2016 after noticing a general push toward wearables. In a recent phone interview, she explained that after more closely examining the issue, she started to wonder: “What information might be being encoded in our hand movements?”

That question is what Klue is seeking to solve. Through its AI technology, the startup is able to detect eating and drinking gestures and distinguish them from other hand gestures. In addition to tracking how much and how quickly a consumer is eating and drinking, the technology gives users occasional reminders to stay hydrated or eat more mindfully.

Klue runs as a mobile app on the Apple Watch, but Vleugels said the company plans to make announcements regarding availability for other wearables in the future. The Klue app is on the user’s phone as well as the Apple Watch.

Recently, the company unveiled partnerships with Stanford University and Crossover Health, a provider of employer-sponsored healthcare.

The collaboration with Stanford is led by Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine and director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. The entities worked together on a five-week clinical study to look at Klue’s application. The startup also teamed up with Crossover Health in the company’s Bay Area clinics.

Vleugels noted Klue has several other partnerships in the works.

At the HLTH conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, the San Mateo company revealed two modules: the Mindful Eating Messenger and the Hydration Coach. The Mindful Eating Messenger pinpoints when, how fast and how much a user consumes. It also gives personalized nudges to help users adopt healthier habits. The Hydration Coach works similarly, enabling patients to set their hydration goals and track their progress, then offering reminders.

Looking ahead, Vleugels simply summarized her company’s goals: “Our focus right now is on further developing and growing that portfolio of partners to really realize this new healthcare delivery model that’s based on micro-nudging.”

Klue’s recent announcements have emerged as other startups are capitalizing on the benefits of wearables. Another San Mateo company, Notable, also made news at HLTH this year. However, Notable is utilizing wearables for a different purpose. The startup offers a voice-powered assistant for the Apple Watch that allows physicians to capture data during interactions with patients. A doctor can simply speak during the patient encounter, and the app records it.

Photo: KucherAV, Getty Images