Meet the Cork firm set to bring the heat

Thalman Health aims to save lives and costs with its wearable temperature monitor, writes Trish Dromey.

With the development of wearable technology that can continuously monitor core body temperature, Cork and San Francisco-based startup Thalman Health has set out to revolutionise the science of thermometry.

“It is the most significant development in thermometry since the invention of the thermometer in 1870,” said Thalman Health co-founder and head of operations, Ian Kerins.

He explained that technology has already been developed to continuously monitor heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, but that Thalman Health is the first to create a device which can do the same for body temperature.

“The measurement of temperature is crucial in identifying disease because fever is the first sign of infection,” said Mr Kerins, adding that the company is starting out by using the device to detect infection in cancer patients but it has multiple potential applications across a range of medical disciplines.

He believes it will signal the end of the age-old practice of nurses taking patient temperature manually and says the future is this wearable device which takes temperature continuously.

“Early detection of infection can reduce the risk of sepsis and result in saving lives and reducing costs,” he added.

The company originally developed its body temperature-measuring technology in order to help women to track their fertility. Set up in 2014, it was called Ayda, but rebranded in 2016 when it changed direction.

“When we were completing development of the technology, we got feedback from doctors that there was a massive need in general healthcare for a device with the ability to detect
infection,” he said.

Prior to that, the company had raised $550,000 (€468,820) in investment from private investors including Liam Casey of PCH International and Enterprise Ireland. CEO and co-founder James Foody had won the overall award at Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition in 2015.

Since its change of direction at the end of 2016, the company’s team of three engineers, based in Cork, has been working on developing a wearable device for healthcare use. Global patents have now been applied for, while Mr Foody, based in San Francisco, works on business development.

In a significant development for the company this year, it secured support and funding from the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre based at the Tyndall Institute.

Mr Kerins says this will result in its technology being used to monitor the body temperature of astronauts during missions.

The next major step for Thalman Health will be carrying out clinical trials of the device with cancer patients, at two centres in the US.

“We expect the trials to start within the next three to six months, after which we will apply for approval from the FDA (Federal Drugs Authority,” said Mr Kerins.

Future plans include developing predictive algorithms, which will use the data collected from the devices.

“This will detect infections and sepsis hours before the current standard of care, potentially saving thousands of lives a year,” Mr Kerins said.

Noting that Ireland has a good track record for medical device companies, Mr Kerins says Thalman Health is now looking for a company in Ireland to produce the device for it.

“We have already had numerous enquiries from medical device companies interested in integrating our technology into their wearable patient monitor devices for use in areas such as surgery, general wards, outpatients, and also for consumer applications.”

The plan is to launch the company’s own product and consider other options at a later stage. Mr Kerins says later in the year Thalman will also initiate a fundraising round, which will help it employ an additional two engineers early next year, bringing the staff to six.

Securing a place in the regional finals of this year’s Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn Competition, its long-term aim is to be a global leader in personalised detection of illness/infection.


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