Reflex Wireless, a Canadian company, has been developing innovative mobile solutions to help people measure and track their nutrition intake and hydration. We found that the company’s previous offering, a Bluetooth enabled smart scale named Nutricrystal, was extremely helpful for people to measure their daily nutritional intake, and its capabilities far exceeded those of conventional food measuring scales. The company is set to launch a Kickstarter Campaign for its latest product in November, so we took the opportunity to speak with Reflex Wireless’s President and Co-Founder, Andy Tsai, to learn more about their latest offering, that has been selected as a top contender for the Engadget Insert Coin Award.
Gaurav Krishnamurthy, Medgadget: What is ReFleX’s latest product? How did you identify the need for such technology?
Andy Tsai: NutriSurface is our latest product. The Bluetooth Smart Ready Nutritional Scale will come in two sizes: disk size – for portability and chop size – for kitchen use.
We initially identified our customer requirements from a CNN article in March 2012, when we learnt that the pending new US healthcare law will require all chained restaurants (20+ locations) to provide nutritional labeling for all the food in the menu. Our first reaction was that it will put lots pressure on the independent or small chain restaurant owners, as they are competing against the large chains. The cost of getting the nutrient facts labels will be very costly, as well as keeping the labels up-to-date when a recipe is modified. According to FDA, the cost of first year compliance costs for all regulated parties could be as high as $537 million, with recurring annual costs of up to $64 million. Hence, our first target market is the independent and small chain restaurant owners who need a low cost and easy to use solution to produce a Nutrient Facts Table. Our NutriPlus NFT Builder allows the user to take advantage of the intuitive touch interface of Android and iOS mobile devices to create NFT tables based on USDA and Health Canada’s Food Databases. Unlike the traditional (key-pad) based nutritional scale, our solution can produce a NFT table in seconds and has a much larger ingredient database which can be updated any time. In addition, the wireless food scale can be used as a device platform to produce solutions for other market segments, such as sports athletes and diabetic patients.
Medgadget: What pain points does NutriSurface address?
Andy Tsai: As mentioned the NutriSurface with different mobile apps can address different pain for people in different market segments.
a) Independent and small chain restaurant owner: NutriSurface and NutriPlus NFT Builder help them to comply to the new healthcare law and stay competitive by providing nutritional information of their menu items to an increasingly health conscious customers
b) Parents with type I diabetes children: NutriSurface and NutriPlus Lite help parents to negotiate and educate their children on carbohydrate intake. And in the November 2013, NutriPlus Recipe Library will enable parents to perform portion control for their children with home cook meals instead of relying on the costly packaged meal (with predetermined nutrients).
c) Sport Athletes: NutriSurface and NutriPlus Lite enables them to track both their macro and micro nutrients (important for performance fine tuning). With the traditional nutritional scale, micro-nutrients tracking was not available.
d) People with weight related issue: NutriSurface with NutriPlus Points Tracker (available in Android on October 15, 2013) will help people with weight related issues to track their daily food intake with the established Nutripoints System (www.nutripoints.com). This is a weight loss solution designed to help people to get a simple set of numbers for influencing eating habits. We are working with our partner Dr. Roy Vartabedian on this project.
Medgadget: Can the product be used for purposes other than just tracking daily nutrient intake?
Andy Tsai: In addition to measuring nutrients, the NutriSurface Disk will also be used for measuring daily water consumption, especially for office workers. The two-way communication between the mobile app and the wireless scale will enable people to track how much water they have drank and remind people when to drink at a customized time interval. There are more applications and they are from our customers. We are just engineers. We can build devices but not very good at defining use cases.
Medgadget: What kind of external connectivity does the product have? Can it communicate with other biomonitoring devices?
Andy Tsai: Currently the NutriSurface can connect to mobile or desktop devices via Bluetooth 2.1 EDR and 4.0 Low Energy. But with our engineering ability, we can have it communicate via proprietary protocol for more security and lesser RF interference with other consumer electronics. We have had some preliminary discussion with people about integrating NutriSurface Disk with insulin pumps, but it is still at very early stage.
Medgadget: When will the product be available n the market and how much will it sell for?
Andy Tsai: The NutriSurface will hit retail store in Q2 2013. The chop size will MSRP for $149 and the Disk Size for $99. Both will be built with IPX7 Water Proof Standard (Max immersion for less than 30 minutes and at a depth of less than 1 meter) and rechargeable via induction charging. For the people who cannot wait, the NutriCrystal food scale is available now for $69.95 at our online store: store.reflexwireless.com. It is a traditional kitchen scale with Bluetooth connectivity and is not water-proof.
Medgadget: Can you tell me about your team and how you started ReFlex?
Andy Tsai: Our company began as a research project at the University of British Columbia in September 2013. Our primary research was on a concept called “Body Area Network” where multiple bio-sensors are placed on human bodies for continuous monitoring of patients in long-term care facilities. Today our company provides several digital health solutions such as remote home sleep monitoring for people under sleep apnea treatment and remote vital sign monitoring for newly discharged surgical patients. The Nutri Series solutions are part of our portfolio for wellness applications. Currently, our company operates out of an incubator facility,Wavefront Accelerator in Vancouver Canada and another one at Blueprint Health in New York City (sponsored by NYCEDC).
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