The 'Fitbit for fertility' celebrates a milestone: A baby
Lizzie McGee and her infant son Jace McGee.
Jace McGee, the first infant born after a couple used the Ava fertility tracker to aid conception.
“I would put on the bracelet at night, then sync it in the morning and find out exactly where I was in terms of ovulating. We had been trying for almost a year. After I started using Ava, it took three months to conceive.”
Worn only at night, the slim, lightweight silicon wristband tracks clues to a woman’s most fertile days. It measures resting pulse rate, skin temperature, breathing, and other metrics — a total of nine physical indicators that could tip the scale toward a much better chance at a pregnancy.
“Ava detects a woman’s entire fertile window, as opposed to ovulation predictor kits that only detect the last day or two best for conceiving, or the temperature method, which only confirms ovulation after the fact,” says Ava Sciences CEO & co-founder Lea von Bidder.
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A clinical study published in Scientific Reports and conducted by the University Hospital of Zurich that used Ava and other wearable fertility trackers backs up the science behind the company’s claims, demonstrating that resting pulse rate is a good predictor of the fertility window.
“I love having the first ‘Ava Baby,’ I think it’s just so exciting,” McGee’s says, in a voice akin to someone who’s just getting used to the fact they’ve won the lottery. “I emailed Ava before I even told my husband, I was so shocked and so grateful.”
Von Bidder says Ava Sciences know of at least 500 'Ava' pregnancies since its consumer launch in August 2016.
"But it’s just the beginning, because Ava users [around the world] are reporting an average of 5-10 new pregnancies a day,” she said in an email interview.
The Ava bracelet can track a woman's ovulation, and track data like pulse rate and sleep when they are pregnant.
While Baby Jace might feel like a miracle to his family, he also represents a significant milestone, adding legitimacy to this budding new health tech industry as well.
Ava Sciences has already raised more than $12 million in funding, while the period app Clue has raised $30 million, according to Business Insider. Worldwide, the market for connected health devices like Ava is expected to top $400 billion by 2022, compared to just under $60 billion in 2014, according to Grand View Research.
Being able to solve a common problem is one of the most important indicators of whether a new product will survive. Ava’s accuracy and promising science make it an early leader, but it’s hardly the only company vying for women’s attention. Ovulation app Ovia and Clue are two of Ava’s top competitors, while cycle-tracking app Kindara syncs with the company’s own Wink smart thermometer to streamline temperature readings in a similar way to Ava.
Other devices built by startups like Daysy and Yono use temperature readings to estimate when women are most fertile, and even Clearblue, which is well known for its pregnancy tests, markets a digital fertility monitor, though that one still requires test sticks and a trip to the bathroom. Thus far, Ava seems to be the only one that has nailed the balance between powerful data and ease of use, but that could change at any moment.
With tens of millions of dollars already on the line, and the possibility of an entirely new industry built around fertility tech, baby Jace isn’t just a bundle of joy for his delighted parents, he’s the first result of a new technology “baby boom” as well.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.
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