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Breathings, a Developer of IoT-based Lung Health Management Solution

#Power of Businesses l 2019-08-05

Business Watch

© breathings

The company we’re going to introduce today is Breathings, a developer of a lung health management platform integrated with the Internet of Things or IoT technology. Let’s hear from its CEO Lee In-pyo. 


It’s been eight months since Breathings was created in 2018 as a spin-off from Samsung Electronics. Upon its creation last year, the health tech firm was selected for the government’s startup support program. More recently, the company’s excellent business item won a prize at a contest hosted by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service and the National Health Insurance Service. The contest was about creative startup ideas using big data in the healthcare sector. 


While working at Samsung Electronics, I found a team of medical professors and researchers that floated an interesting idea about breathing. I was attracted by the idea as my mother was suffering from a respiratory disease. After being inspired, I applied for the company’s incubation project as an engineer. In the course of carrying out the project, I became confident about the business potential of my item. In the belief that it would benefit a lot of people once it was commercially released, I decided to start my own company. 


Breathings started from Samsung Electronics’ in-house venture nurturing program. Among the countless items, Lee showed interest in a respiration-related one. Based on a new idea presented by local medical staff, he developed a system that measures and records breathing capacity and speed before it delivers the information to doctors. 


Hospitals and health examination centers use medical equipment designed to check lung function. But it is difficult to use those bulky and expensive devices at home. In the U.S., healthcare workers carry portable devices to examine lung function when visiting the homes of patients with chronic respiratory diseases. But the devices are also rather big and overpriced. Moreover, the results are explained in difficult medical terms that are hard for general citizens to understand so they are not appropriate for home use. 


To ease this inconvenience, I developed an IoT-based device that allows users to check their lung situations easily using a smartphone app. It is designed to help people manage their lung health individually by tracking the data consistently. The device is reasonably priced but is as accurate as the ones used in hospitals. This small, hand-held device is easy to carry around and store. Unlike other alternatives, it can also help users perform breathing exercises as well. I’ve already applied for four patents regarding relevant technology. 


© SAMSUNG

When people run a fever at home, they take their temperature with a thermometer and when they have a high fever, they may choose to go to a doctor. But that’s not the case when one has a breathing problem. Even if they cough or have phlegm, some people don’t really take it seriously. It is not until they cough for too long that they go to a pulmonologist to get their lungs examined. 


Taking note of this, Lee created a system that connects a device for pulmonary rehabilitation with a smartphone application. His invention drew a positive response from Samsung Electronics’ in-house venture startup development program. He founded Breathings jointly with his two colleagues, Yun Gi-sang and Song Chang-ho, and developed an IoT-based solution for managing lung health. Using this convenient device, anyone can measure his or her breathing capacity easily and precisely at home. 


For now, the product is focused on checking lung function. But the company plans to link it with hospitals to benefit patients suffering from respiratory diseases. 


The lung and the liver are known as silent organs. Even when lung or liver failure occurs, symptoms often go unnoticed until more than half of the organs are damaged. When people experience the symptoms and visit a clinic, it’s too late in many cases, as they miss the right time to be treated.


In Korea, citizens are more prone to respiratory diseases due to very bad levels of fine dust air pollution. Many doctors agree on the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of such diseases. Thermometers designed to take one’s temperature awaken the need to go to a doctor. Unfortunately, there is no such device available for respiratory infections. 


Our new solution can provide objective information about people’s lung conditions and encourage them to see a doctor when they find a problem after checking their respiration, just like when they take their temperature using a thermometer. In other words, this solution can connect individual patients with clinics. 


The International Agency for Research on Cancer under the World Health Organization classified outdoor air pollution and particulate matter as leading environmental causes of cancer. Ultra-fine dust particles are known to weaken lung function and increase the risks associated with the occurrence and deterioration of respiratory diseases, including lung cancer.


But sometimes people hardly experience difficulty in breathing until they have lost 50 percent of their lung function. Even X-ray images may not detect the diseases. For that reason, there are growing calls for including lung function tests in the national health screening program. Even though the ultra-fine dust problem is becoming increasingly serious, it is difficult to reduce air dust pollution at the moment. Therefore, many have raised the need for the early diagnosis of lung disease through relevant tests. 


If this argument is accepted, Breathings can play an important role in promoting lung health. The company’s role has already garnered recognition overseas. 


We’ve carried out clinical research in cooperation with a large hospital in Korea to verify the efficacy of our product. The research was published in one of the world’s leading journals of science and technology in February of this year. When the product developed during Samsung Electronics’ venture incubation project was displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show last year, a number of foreign buyers showed keen interest in it and proposed cooperation projects. I still remember that various foreign media outlets covered the story about the device. It was a great opportunity to gauge the market sentiment and discover the potential of the device as a business item. 


The company will unveil a new product at the IFA, one of the world’s three major trade shows for consumer electronics, which will be held in Berlin in September. 


We’ve decided to participate in a global exhibition like the IFA to introduce our product to people all over the world and regain motivation to grow more. At the upcoming event, we’ll showcase an unprecedented product that has never existed before. It was designed by one of our staff members Kim Ha-eun(김하은), who has won an international design award.  


As the company name indicates, Breathings will make consistent efforts to develop technology to allow citizens in Korea to breathe comfortably. We’re also working on various solutions aimed at providing help to people all around the world. So please give us your support and interest. 


The company has challenged the rather unfamiliar field of breathing and explored a new scope of healthcare equipment. The name, Breathings, is a combination of “breath” and “things,” as in the “Internet of Things.” It contains the firm’s hope that it will offer various useful solutions related to breathing. We look forward to witnessing more groundbreaking innovations from the company.

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