Heroic-Faith, a Taiwanese startup that develops an AI-powered monitor for abnormal breath sounds, announced today it has raised a $4M Series A round led by Integral Group, a financial services company based in Taiwan.
Heroic-Faith has obtained clearance for the product from the Taiwan Food and Drugs Administration (TFDA) and is preparing to apply for FDA permission in the US, the company told Business Next in an email.
The company couldn’t have released the product at a better time. Due to the pandemic, hospitals are looking for solutions like theirs that allow medical staff to monitor their patients remotely, especially those who have been potentially infected with Covid-19.
Heroic-Faith's solution includes AI and connected device technologies.
Trained on a dataset of over 500k breath sounds, the AI is capable of identifying abnormal and adventitious lung sounds, such as crackles, wheezes and stridor, and then deciding if a patient is suffering from respiratory disorders like asthma, pneumonia or pulmonary edema, according to a press statement.
Heroic-Faith claims a 90% accuracy in disease detection, whereas professional medical staff correctly diagnose these disorders in around 70% of the cases, Business Next reports.
“We can use ECG to quickly measure heart rate and cardiac rhythms, but for breathing patterns, we use only our ears,” said Fushun Hsu, founder and CEO of Heroic-Faith and a former attending physician for the National Taiwan University Hospital.
“Every breath a patient exhales is a piece of information that allows us to understand their current condition, but there’s no effective device that can help us monitor breathing during a surgery.”
In response, Heroic-Faith has developed its own stethoscope in the shape of a patch. Attached to the patient’s body, the patch works as a sensor that connects to a tablet or mobile phone, which displays waveforms of respiration.
As the patch collects continuous data, the AI-powered app in the device can guide the surgeons through endoscopic, facial, or dental surgeries, in which patients are only regionally anaesthetized and not intubated, and send an emergency alert if an abnormality in breath sounds occurs.
Heroic-Faith’s solution has been used in several medical centers in Taiwan last November and helped surgeons detect life-threatening symptoms at least one minute sooner than traditional monitoring methods, the company says.
The Series A round sees other investors including LCD manufacturer AmTRAN, Top Taiwan Venture Capital, and TAYA Venture Capital, the venture arm of the TAYA Electric Wire & Cable Group. The National Development Fund of Taiwan and BE Capital, a venture capital firm that runs a healthcare startup accelerator in Taiwan, also participated.
“Heroic Faith is one of the few smart medical device startups in the world that focuses on breath sounds,” said Arthur Chen, BE Capital’s executive director. “It product not only allows doctors to examine the patient's condition remotely but also reduces the risk of respiratory system damage caused by careless monitoring.”
With the new capital, the company seeks to strengthen its AI capabilities and bring the product to global markets.
Heroic-Faith is now working with the Sleep Clinical Center of Stanford University to advance the research in sleep apnea. Moving forward, the company plans to build an online platform for the identification of a wide variety of abnormal breath sounds.