Social Startups

Medical Checkups Are Now An iPhone App Away, Thanks To This TED Fellow

Myshkin Ingawale is a senior TED Fellow and has presented at the TEDGlobal conference twice, both the times unveiling revolutionary medical technologies. At his first TED conference in 2012, Myshkin showcased his invention ToucHb, a low-cost, portable, handheld device that could do a blood test without bleeding to scan for anemia. At TED 2013, Myshkin unveiled a smartphone app called uChek, that could analyse your urine in seconds to check for a range of medical conditions including diabetes, urinary tract infection, liver and kidney problems. Don’t worry you don’t have to pee on your phone for that. The way uChek works is described on their site.

I first spotted Myshkin Ingawale at the Social Capital Market (SOCAP) conference in 2011 where he was showcasing his medical device ToucHb. I was enamored by his easy to use technology for detecting anemia, a major medical condition commonly found in women and especially pregnant women which if not treated could be life threatening to both the mother and child. I featured his startup in my post – Five Social Startups That Will Make You Go Wow. I was stunned again this year when I heard about his new invention uChek and connected with him recently to understand how and what motivates him to develop such cool technologies.

Deepa Chaudhary (DC): You are an Electrical Engineer and have done Ph.D in Management. How did you venture into the medical field and came up with these ingenious ideas?

Myshkin Ingawale (MI): It’s pretty much a team thing. I started Biosense Technologies in 2008 with my school friends who come from different professions – doctors, engineers, designers. One of my doctor friend had experienced first hand problems in public healthcare system in India. His experiences inspired us to develop ToucHb, an affordable, easy to use medical device that can enable doctors and health care workers in rural, low-resource areas to proactively screen for anemia right at the doorsteps of pregnant women.

DC:Tell us about uChek and how people can use it?

MI: uChek is a smartphone app that people can use to test their urine to regularly assess and manage their health. Urine testing is used by clinicians for 25 medical conditions, including complications of diabetes, kidney problems and Urinary Tract Infection. Now with our app people can run the urine test right at the comfort of their home and can instantly get results. The test result shows presence of compounds like glucose, proteins, bilirubin, ketone and more that could provide information on range of medical conditions. To get started one has to first download the app, currently available for iPhone at the app store for 99 cents and buy the uChek kit for $40 which consists of of the cuboid, the mat, and sample dipsticks. The uChek system automatically records the test strip result and log test data. The stored results may be analyzed as a trend over time. We’ll soon have the app for Android phones too.

DC: Tell us how does it feel to be a TED Fellow and to present at TED?

MI: It’s a great honor and privilege to be a TED Fellow. Feels great to be surrounded by other people who are all doing ridiculously crazy things in their respective areas. I was pretty nervous to present, especially the second time over as I had to do a live urine test.

DC: How has the TED Fellowship helped you in your work?

MI: The TED fellowship has definitely given credibility to our work. Being on the TED stage has helped create global awareness about the issue. We’ve had so many offers for help, direct and indirect that has really helped to further our work.

DC: So how did TED spot you?

MI: It was at the Unreasonable Institute (Incubator for social startups) demo day where I showcased my technology ToucHb for detecting anemia. The TED people present there really liked what I showed and encouraged me to apply for TED Fellowship. To become a TED fellow one needs to go through the formal application process.

DC: You’ve recently authored a book called, ‘The Unreasonable Fellows’, could you tell us about that?

MI: The book is a story of 10 crazy people on a mission to change the world. They were my fellow mates at the Unreasonable Institute. The institute brings together highly talented and crazy people to live together under the same roof for six weeks. When I was there with these people, it was like a novel unfolding around me. So I decided to capture their stories and started interviewing 10 of the entrepreneurs about their personal life, how they grew up, what motivated them to do what they do, what they plan to accomplish, etc. I started writing the book while I was there in 2011 and just got around to completing it. Which was good in a way as I got to capture what happened with their ventures post the Unreasonable Institute. Many have done really well, some are doing good and many have failed. The entrepreneurs have been really candid in their interviews about what led to their failures, how they changed path, etc. If you’re interested in learning about the stories of these entrepreneurs and how they are doing today, you could get a copy of the book here.

DC: So what’s the next big thing you are working on?

MI: We’ve already covered urine, maybe sweat analysis might be next

To learn more about uchek and how it works, visit their site.