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Getting Healthier with Space Technology

The ViBo Health Scanner is an innovative tool to quickly and painlessly scan metabolic processes, using technology designed for satellite communication to improve our health by tracking several wellness indicators.

 

Everyone is familiar with the burden of going to a clinic or hospital to have a lab test, like analysing a blood sample or a tissue sample. Usually, these kind of in vitro tests involve some discomfort for the patient: factors like cost and time can be upsetting, as well as the invasive nature of most of these tests. Because of that, they are usually limited to suspected diseases, and can restrict what, and how frequently, measurements are made.

These problems lead to the need for a more practical device that offers a personalised, predictive, and preventative solution. The goal is to measure metabolic processes in the body in a non-invasive way, which allows to perform multiple tests regularly, while being cost-effective.

This is where ViBo Health comes in. ViBo Health is a start-up based in Portugal and USA that has been incubated at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) since 2020, in the ESA BIC programme. IPN has an ESA Space Solutions Centre and was the first among the 22 other European ESA centres to host, within the same entity, the three areas promoting downstream businesses: ESA Business Incubation Centres, ESA Technology Broker Network and ESA Business Applications Ambassadors.

ViBo Health’s solution attempts to offer the benefits of traditional laboratory tests, while avoiding the pain of an invasive blood draw and the waiting times and costs associated with them. On top of that, the tests can be easily repeated, allowing to keep track of changes over time.

The device is a scanner that measures the users’ levels of health and wellness, by quickly and painlessly tracking metabolomic data. Metabolomics is the study of metabolites – products of metabolism – and the processes within a biological system that uses them. This device scans metabolic processes instead of simple vital signs and the test is quite simple: it consists of placing a hand inside the scanner and it reads spectra from multiple locations along the wrist; no needles, no pain, no longer than 10 seconds.

The scanner is intended to be placed in high traffic locations (gyms, pharmacies, etc.), where the clients can easily do a test and understand the results on a dashboard app. Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) is the basis of this technology (the same physical process behind MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) machines creating images of our bodies) which, combined with advanced signal processing and machine learning, makes this process very simple. The data is then compared, analysed and shared automatically, and patients get actionable recommendations within seconds.

The device shares important health information to clinicians, as well, making it an innovative and extremely practical tool for both patients and experts.

 

 

Figure 1. ViBo Health Scanner

Figure 2: How to use ViBo Health? Here are the main steps

 

ViBo Health is combining these physical methods with ESA space technology, allowing advanced Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to reach customers, without requiring any blood samples. The presence of space technology improves the performance to a level that was previously only attainable with advanced equipment.

 

The Space Connection

 

This connection comes from the strong correlation between the evolution of Magnetic Resonance and the developments made in space technology. NMR and MRI have been improved as several developments from telecom/space are made, which have led to faster image processing, better coils, lower noise and localization.

This has to do with the fact that Magnetic Resonance is basically a telecommunications signal problem in a challenging environment (the human body surrounded by a magnetic field).

To take advantage of this connection, ViBo Health made use of two ESA Patents. The first was an antenna array with a controlled radiation signal. It was originally designed for satellite antennas, but the start-up adapted it in order to target the radio frequency required to make the scanner work at an optimal design which reduces harmful effects.

The second ESA patent used was a radio frequency blanket (an MLI – Multilayer Insulation Blanket) with a frequency-selective structure for blocking thermal radiation and managing electromagnetic interference. This kind of coating is helpful in eliminating effects at high frequencies (from mobile phones, Wi-Fi, etc., which are present in high traffic locations) and may serve as temperature control.

Gil Travish, Co-founder of ViBo Health, considers that the added-value of using such a technology is “Key to democratizing this essential technology for all of us to be able to track our health in simple and actionable way.

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