OrbiMed backs an Israeli startup developing a futuristic, hand-held diagnostic device

Tyto Care Tyto diagnostic device--Courtesy of Tyto Care

Israeli startup Tyto Care is the latest company focused on developing a futuristic hand-held device that enables remote diagnosis for a wide variety of conditions. OrbiMed Israel Partners and early-stage investor LionBird are impressed enough with the company's prospects that they led a $4 million Series A funding round.

Plans call for using the investment to finish product development and begin commercialization, Tyto CEO Dedi Gilad said in a statement.

Tyto's device is designed to let anyone collect a variety of readings to enable a doctor to make a remote diagnosis based on data from the throat, ears, skin and also temperature and lung and heart analysis. The idea is that a patient could use the device to conduct a self-examination, transmitting data over the web so a physician can make a remote diagnosis once the raw data comes through.

OrbiMed managing director Anat Naschitz said in a statement that Tyto's approach would essentially establish "the missing piece to productive telehealth, by introducing diagnostic data which aims to be equivalent to face-to-face clinical examination."

Tyto isn't the only company going for a "Star Trek"-style hand-held diagnostic device. But the approaches vary widely so far, and they remain few in number. Among them: California's Scanadu is developing a "Star Trek"-inspired device that would do most of the analytical work rather than sending raw data to a physician for analysis. It is designed to analyze, track and trend a patient's vital signs after one 10-second scan. The company secured a $10.5 million Series A funding round last fall after some promising crowdfunding results on Indiegogo. Blackberry mastermind Mike Lazaridis launched a $97 million fund last year to support entrepreneurs developing real-life "Star Trek"-style blood-test scanning devices.

Tyto Care is relatively new to the game, having launched just in 2012.

The push to automate and simplify the diagnostic assessment of a patient will continue in the age of healthcare cost management. While these hand-held diagnostic devices are a long way off from the market, it is a matter of time before one approach or another succeeds.

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