Hong Kong-Based Wearable Tech Startup Digi-Care Building A Lightweight Healthcare Wristband With Long Battery Life

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Healthcare tech has been getting a facelift as the wearables space teems with competition. Seasoned players and startup companies alike are all tinkering away in their shops to reiterate what’s already on the market, or have been innovating to bring something new to the table.

The latest to hit the scene via Indiegogo is ERI: a new lightweight fitness tracker with an unnaturally long battery life – you only need to charge it twice a month. We met up with Jimmy Liao, co-founder and CEO of Digi-Care, the Hong Kong-based company behind ERI, and he told StartupsHK about his passion for consumer products.

“I studied High Polymer Materials and Engineering at the Harbin University of Science and Technology,” said Jimmy. “The school was working in cooperation with the military so all of my classmates either went on to do research for the army or work for the government.” Despite the conventional path of all of his classmates, Jimmy said that he’s always known he’s wanted to use technology to improve the lives of people, and was the only one in his class to go rogue and work on consumer products.

With a background in hardware, Jimmy started his career at Nokia working on product quality and injection molding until they closed up one of their Shenzhen operations in 2009. That’s when he went back to Harbin to work on a graduate petroleum project.

Midway through his master’s, inspiration showed up. The iPhone had just been released in China and Jimmy saw that opportunity in China’s mobile space was about to blow up. Hightailing back to Shenzhen, Jimmy made the switch to software and began developing iOS programs for a Japanese company called Twin Fish. It was there that he met his co-founder and fellow tech evangelist that prompted him to start Digi-Care. “We decided to start a company because we love technology,” said Jimmy passionately, “We want to use technology to create amazing products that will improve and change people’s lives.”

And what better way to do that then to disrupt the wearable space with a solution to the short battery lifespan problem? ERI’s elegant, nano silica unibody is as fit as you strive to be: thin as 6 millimeters weighing in at just 20 grams. And its curved polymer lithium battery’s stamina is like no other: it only needs two charges a month. “We spent extra time on the battery because in wearable products, battery life is very important as we can’t charge it every day like our cell phones,” said Jimmy. He explains that unlike the Samsung Galaxy Round which features a curved battery cell, ERI is powered by an elongated battery that’s painstakingly sliced up into identical segments that are then connected with wires.

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Unlike other fitness trackers that have built-in GPS technology, ERI forgoes satellite-based navigation to very effectively preserve battery life. Instead, it uses a magnetometer to collect the users’ geomagnetic data, which is essentially information taken from the earth’s magnetic field. With help from a compass that picks up on the direction the user is headed in, the data is then run through an algorithm, synchronized with the smartphone’s GPS and fed into the mobile app.

According to Jimmy, the benefits of not using GPS in wearables is a longer battery life; as collecting satellite signals uses a lot of power, and a more lightweight body; as the GPS antenna takes up too much space. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, a single NFC chip for communication, and compatibility across iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows 8.1 platforms. Also, ERI has an SDK available for developers keen on accessing its sensors and open API for the motion database.

With just 34 days left in its Indiegogo campaign, ERI is more than an idea and currently exists as an engineering sample that created quite the buzz at the mid-November TechCrunch Shanghai event. Jimmy felt that having physical product would help the campaign and aims to ship ERI out to North American backers at some point in January with European backers receiving theirs soon after.

If you’re based in Hong Kong or China and have helped fund ERI’s production – you’ll be the first to get your hands on a wristband that’s the very first in Asia to use sensors instead of GPS technology.

Back this project and learn more about ERI on their Indiegogo campaign.

 

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