Technology worn with a sensor of pride

Dublin firm Shimmer Technology aims to generate turnover of €3m this year and €10m in 2015 with its sensor platform, which monitors movement and biophysical readings, writes Trish Dromey

Paul Doherty: Scope for technology 'enormous'.

THE concept of wearable wireless sensor technology has moved out of the realms of science fiction and into the real world.

Dublin firm Shimmer Technology has developed a sensor platform, which is used in devices designed to track athlete performance, to monitor health and analyse people’s biophysical response to products and movies.

In March, Shimmer signed its largest deal to date with US company Emerge Diagnostics. Worth $10 million (€7.39m) over three years, this will involve Shimmer’s sensor technology being used in a product which can analyse injuries in order to determine how old they are and whether they are acute or chronic.

Shimmer’s vice president of sales Paul Doherty says this is a hugely exciting space and the scope for this technology is enormous. Currently a division of Realtime Electronics, Shimmer is in the process of spinning out to become a separate entity.

This follows strong growth over the last 12 months, and a move to a separate premises in the DCU innovation campus in January this year.

“Sales have grown by 400% over the last four years. We currently ship to over 70 countries worldwide and are targeting growth of 300% this year,” says Mr Doherty.

For the last six years the company has been selling its technology to universities and research organisations around the world. But since 2013 it has adopted more aggressive marketing tactics and has begun targeting medical, sports, and marketing companies which can use Shimmer’s platform to develop new products.

The original wearable sensor device was developed by Ben Kurtis at Intel in 2006. In 2008 Intel offered Realtime CEO Paddy White the global licence for the platform. This led to the establishment of Shimmer — an acronym for Sensing Health with Intelligence, Modularity, Mobility, and Experimental Reusability.

The technology uses sensors to monitor movement and biophysical readings such as heartbeat and blood pressure.

“It delivers unprocessed raw data, and is unique in being an open source platform, which can be used as a development tool,” says Mr Doherty, explaining that by adding software to analyse the data it can be used in the creation of a wide variety of products.

In 2009 Mr Kurtis joined Shimmer as chief technical officer and the company began to expand the product offering and develop new modules.

By 2011 it was selling in 40 countries and by 2012 it had begun to engage with industry.

A project with Spanish communications giant Telefonica produced Rehabitic, a device which uses sensors to monitor exercises carried out by knee replacement patients.

“Launched in 2012, this is now being rolled out across Spain,” says Mr Doherty.

Up to 2013 the vast majority of sales were to research facilities, but in 2013 Shimmer switched its focus and recruited additional sales and marketing staff, including Mr Doherty.

“We were getting enquiries from a variety of companies but we didn’t really have an offering for them. To offer a complete solution we added software,” he says, explaining that in addition to providing hardware, the company now offers consultancy, design and software development.

Over the last year sales to the enterprise sector have grown from 30% to 70% of the total, while the firm’s staff size has grown from 12 to 22.

Shimmer has three primary target markets; clinical assessment, which uses sensor technology in medical devices; neuro-marketing, which uses it to monitor people’s biosignals and analyse their response to products; and sport, which uses it to track players and manage performance.

Customers include one of the leading global players in sports performance management, which used Shimmer in a device used by 15 of the 20 Premier League clubs in England last year.

Sales to neuromarketing grew significantly in the last year and customers include Sensum in the UK, as well as iMotions and Innerscope in the US.

Monitoring of the elderly is another area with potential and Shimmer is working with Irish firm Kinesis to develop a product in this area.

Profile

Company: Shimmer.

Location: DCU Campus, Innovation Centre, Dublin.

CEO: Paddy White.

Staff: 22.

Business: Provider of wearable wireless sensors.

Markets: US and Europe.

Exports: 95%.

Website: www.shimmersensing.com


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