Welch Allyn partners with startup Gentag to create wearable devices

Established point-of-care diagnostics company Welch Allyn has partnered with wearables startup Gentag to develop medical devices that use wireless sensors. This isn't its first foray into wearables, making it clear that this staid provider of basic tools--for physical exams and patient monitoring such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers as well as cardiopulmonary monitors--is interested in making a technological leap forward.

The partners expect to bring Gentag's near field communication (NFC) technology to Welch Allyn products. On its own, Gentag develops ultra-lightweight, flexible and disposable biosensor patches that don't require a battery. These "smart skin patches" are for applications including glucose monitoring, diagnostics and drug delivery.

The Gentag technology is based on wireless sensors first developed at the U.S. National Laboratories for the Department of Defense. It's a small chip that can be read from miles away and can provide precise geolocation--even indoors.

Under the Welch Allyn deal, the partners expect to integrate these ultra-thin, battery-less wireless sensors into various diagnostic tools, with applications such as sending patient measurement data wirelessly directly into an electronic health record.

Gentag CEO John Peeters

"Welch Allyn has the knowledge, expertise and global market reach that will allow the globalization of NFC technologies in medical diagnostic settings," Gentag CEO John Peeters said in a statement. "By combining our intellectual property and technology portfolios with Welch Allyn, we feel that patients will be better served by the worldwide availability of high quality wireless medical devices." Peeters founded Gentag in 2001.

This is not Welch Allyn's first excursion into the latest trends in connectivity. In July, it led a $7 million Series B round in wearable sensing company Cardiac Insights. A collaboration was part of the deal, providing Welch Allyn exclusive distribution rights to undisclosed Cardiac Insight products. In particular, the partners said they would focus on atrial fibrillation diagnostics.

There are a number of wearable, wireless diagnostic cardiac monitors already making it onto the market, including one from Medtronic ($MDT) that it launched in September that was originally acquired from startup Corventis.

Last year, Welch Allyn also garnered an FDA clearance for a plug-in ophthalmoscope that enables image capture, storage and sharing via an iPhone. It's based in Skaneateles Falls, NY, and employs more than 2,600 people in 26 countries.

- here is the release

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