Teddy the Guardian is a beautiful plush bear, just perfect for cuddles. What’s even more useful, is that when his paw is squeezed, a sensor inside collects both body and ambient temperature data, and can send it straight to your smartphone.
Tall Giraffe and Brave Lion, other toys in the range, measure activity, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels.
This idea, of clever diagnostic tools couched in furry forms so as not to scare children, is the brainchild of Josipa Majic, 24, a Croatian former informatics student who has now set up her company with offices in Zagreb, London, and California.
“I witnessed closely how, despite having amazing doctors, oftentimes the patient’s emotional state got neglected,” she said, suggesting that cuddly toys are a gentler way to measure toddler’s vital signs.
The field of medical technology, or ‘meditech’ is opening up, as Ms Majic comments; “the cost of sensors and components is decreasing and the amount of innovation happening in the field is increasing”.
She is not alone in her entrepreneurship; according to the StartUp Health Insights Annual Report, meditech start-ups received about £5.1bn of investment in 2015, compared to less than £1bn in 2010.
“The healthcare sector is undergoing its most substantial change in decades,” says Chris Pennell, lead analyst at tech consultancy Ovum.
“The rise of consumer technologies such as smartphones, wearable devices and mobile health applications, allows citizens to become more involved in their healthcare.”
There are risks associated with the technology-enabled trend of self-diagnosis, however.
“Searching the internet for backache or headache treatments is often simpler and quicker than waiting to see a doctor,” says Mr Pennell.
“While many will take the results with a pinch of salt, there are those that don’t and then go on to self-medicate. Others may look up their symptoms and think it’s nothing serious, when it is.”
On one side, a little knowledge can be dangerous; on the other, meditech inventions could save lives, and relieve pressure on the NHS and other overstretched healthcare providers.