Founded in Febrarury of 2013 by a group of KAIST alumni, the Korea-based healthcare wearable startup Ybrain (CEO Kyongsik Yun) announced that it raised a $3.5 million funding from DSC Investment and Stondbridge Capital Inc.
Ybrain’s Yband improves the brain functions of Alzheimer’s and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) patients and is currently on clinical trials to test the effectiveness and safety of the device.
Yband uses a kind of deep brain stimulation method, a neurosurgical procedure that sends electrical impulses, through implanted electrodes to specific parts of the brain to treat Parkinson’s disease. The only difference is that Yband sends electrical signals from outside the head deep into the brain through the neural network. Although each Alzheimer case differs in level of severity, CEO Yun predicts that about 30 minutes of wearing the Yband for 3 months will have positive effects.
Korea’s LG Electronics also launched its first healthcare wearable a few months ago, creating a competitive environment in the market. LG’s Lifeband Touch and Heart-rate Monitor (HRM) Earphones use altimeter and acceleration sensors to track distance, speed, steps walked, and calorie consumption. The clip-on earphones monitor heart rates by measuring blood flow behind the ears.
Samsung also recently presented their new health care platform, Samsung Digital Health Vision and concepts for a wearable device, Simband. Simband goes beyond calculating basic physical activity information and collects real-time health data of the user with its multimodal sensors.
Not long after raising a $700 million funding right after its foundation, Ybrain has raised a total of $4.2 billion in investments after the recent funding from Stonebridge Capital Inc. and DSC Investment. CEO Yun attributes this change to the fact that “the development of healthcare wearable devices based on innovative neuroscience technologies has gained recognition.” He added that all funding will go to research and development of healthcare wearable devices and clinical trials.
As a pioneer in the burgeoning Korean healthcare wearable market, Ybrain anticipates to become the world’s first Alzheimer’s disease treatment device developer. While many experts predict that new medication for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease will not be available until 2025, Ybrain can be a good alternative for mitigating the effects of the disease.