Health Tech World hears from the CEO of Prevayl Innovations, a company that is shaking up the wearable tech landscape with its connected clothing.
The dynamic landscape of wearable technology has made huge strides in recent years, evolving from simple fitness trackers to encompassing a wide array of innovative devices that have the potential to revolutionise healthcare.
But, to gain a true understanding of our wellbeing, health-conscious consumers need multiple tools to monitor the full range of data that wearable tech enables us to capture.
From smartwatches monitoring heart rate to biosensors capturing vital signs, these devices often keep health data in silos.
One Manchester-based disruptor, however, is breaking down these silos by consolidating a multitude of data in one holistic platform.
Prevayle Innovations is on a mission to transform the healthcare and sports industries with its innovative approach to wearable tech.
Through its cutting-edge sensor technology, Prevayle aims to capture, measure and interpret human data via connected clothing.
Prevayl’s platform generates these insights from a huge range of data sets and works by building electrodes into apparel which then connect to a tiny sensor in the garment.
The sensor is capable of collecting close to clinical-grade ECG (electrocardiogram) data, along with breathing rate metrics, temperature analysis for the body and skin, and IMU (inertial measurement units) which offers posture and gait analysis.
Prevayl CEO Adam Croft told Health Tech World:
“With all that information, we can build bespoke metrics focusing on wellness, safety, health and performance.
“With all that we have four areas that [our] metrics will translate into and that’s the connected worker, the connected athlete and the connected soldier and the connected patient.
“Through connected apparel technology and through sensor technology, what we aim to do is make data understandable and accessible to a wide range of scenarios.”
The company has spent the majority of its existence developing the technology, but as its products now make their way into real-life settings, Prevayle’s wearable tech is poised to reshape the way individuals manage their health and wellness.
The journey up to now
Prevayle was born out of frustration with existing wearable and health tech devices.
“Underwhelmed” by what was available to consumers, Croft set out five years ago to create something better.
“There were limited outputs on the market and there were a lot of inaccuracies from most devices,” Croft said.
“Anything that wanted to get good readings from the heart and look into more detailed metrics, you would have to go and wear a big clunky device.
“There’s a massive need, we thought, to really help with that transition, essentially from collecting data to then understanding it and then enabling an end consumer to interact with the data in a positive way.”
Coming from a sports science background, Croft was curious as to why big sporting brands had tried but failed to develop a clothing-based solution.
Traditional wearable devices gather data from a single point, meaning users need multiple devices to collect a broad range of data from different parts of the body.
“Clothing opens up a massive range of opportunities, even outside of the sports sector, in which you can interact via technology,” Croft said.
“If we could enable clothing to take more data than anything else on the market and then provide a platform which can process all this information and provide performance and wellness insights on the back end, I thought we’d be onto something.”
Prevayle aimed to set itself apart from other wearable tech companies by building an entire ecosystem from scratch, encompassing every aspect of its wearable technology.
Unlike companies that outsource algorithms or hardware components, Prevayle takes pride in developing its own solutions from the ground up.
By doing so, it maintains complete control over the quality and accuracy of its technology, Croft said.
The company boasts a team of garment specialists, hardware engineers, data scientists and software developers who have developed proprietary sensor technology that enables clothing to take information from the body.
“What separates us apart from the likes of Apple or Garmin, or other [companies] is even those guys will outsource and buy in algorithms,” Croft said.
“We decided to work on the whole ecosystem. We needed to build everything from the ground up.
“We have the garment team working with the sensor technology team that then creates all our own firmware.
“And then [they] work hand in hand with a data science team who can compute and collate this massive amount of data, train our algorithms and work with third parties to test them and validate them.
“Then, we needed a software team to house the data and then be able to translate all this insight into some cool UI that people can interact with and understand.”
An essential part of Prevayl’s culture is innovation, putting emphasis on the creation of intellectual property.
The company has over 300 patents across its ecosystem, which Croft hopes will cement the company’s place in the future as a world leader in apparel technology.
“We spent a lot of time on the innovation side, the product development side and the IP side,” Croft said.
“Now it’s to a stage where we’re actually getting to put the technology into real-world situations and seeing benefits of the people interacting with the insights that we deliver.”
SmartWear: A glimpse into the future of wearable tech
Prevayl’s core mission is to make this data understandable and accessible across various scenarios.
Having initially launched into the sports sector, the company has since expanded into the military and healthcare spaces.
The company’s latest innovation, SmartWear, serves as a proof of concept for the company’s wearable technology.
The SmartWear range, which launched in 2022, allows users to consolidate various health metrics into a single app.
This testbed approach has accelerated Prevayle’s learning process and enabled them to improve the technology and validate concepts before approaching potential healthcare or defence partners.
“We plug Smartwear into and partner with gyms, predominately in the fitness industry,” Croft said.
“We connect to fitness platforms. For people interacting with their fitness and health data, instead of them having to use a WHOOP for recovery, an Oura for their sleep and a Polar for ECG information, we take all of these metrics.
“So, anyone interacting in a fitness situation can get all this information and more through one app which is free for them to use.”
“Accuracy is imperative”
Accuracy is central to Prevayl’s innovations and has been “imperative from the outset”, Croft said.
Recently, Prevayl partnered with Bournemouth University to validate the accuracy of its SmartWear ecosystem against the gold standard of ECG heart rate monitoring.
SmartWear was validated above the 0.97 accuracy rating held by the current gold standard, set by a highly accurate 12-lead ECG chest strap developed by Polar.
The research project also ramped up the size of the dataset compared to previous studies, gathering over 6000 data points compared to the average of around 200.
“Even more impressive than that was that we tested for a longer duration,” Croft said.
“The Polar and Garmin [decives] tested for around 8-9 minutes, while we tested for 16 minutes.
“The Polar test previously gathered readings every three to four minutes to plot the graph, whereas we went every four seconds.
“The speeds that they tested up to were fairly sedentary, so up to around seven or eight kilometres. We went up to 16 kilometres.
“We went a lot faster, a lot longer and tested a lot more data points. It’s really affirming.”
Prevayl has more validation projects and case studies in the pipeline as it aims to make further inroads into the healthcare space over the coming years.
Through its partnerships with private medical providers, the company hopes to prove whether its garments could act as an effective remote monitoring tool.
According to Croft, Prevayl’s devices could be a promising solution for fall detection, identifying breathing anomalies and detecting cardiovascular anomalies.
The platform will require various approvals before entering the market but the company hopes to have a commercial product ready within the next few years.