Has the time come for wearables pioneer DorsaVi?
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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Well before the advent of the Apple Watch, DorsaVi paved the way in the “wearables” sector with its first sensor-based wireless device to measure human movement.
The instruments are small but intricate, containing gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers to assess the way that people twist and step.
DorsaVi (ASX:DVL) operates in the occupational health and safety sector (the Visafe division), clinical measurement (Vimove) and the sports market (Viperform)
The flagship workplace product my Visafe has been launched in the Australian, US and UK markets.
“With regulatory approval behind us our focus is now firmly on execution and scalability,” says CEO Andrew Ronchi.
The next-gen clinical product Vimove2 has just been launched in Australia and in July the company gained Food & Drug Administration 510k (device) clearance to launch in the US.
In the beginning
The underlying technology was devised by physiotherapist Andrew Ronchi and his brother Dan in 2000.
At the time, Andrew was working both in private practice and for AFL footy club Melbourne and was becoming frustrated at the use of visual and subjective data to make important patient decisions.
He teamed up with IT guy Dan to devise the first wireless sensor monitoring systems.
Eight years later, the venture was evolved enough to attract the support of Dr Michael Panaccio’s Starfish Technology Fund, which remains the company’s key backer (Panaccio sits on the board).
DorsaVi was formed to acquire the IP from the brothers Ronchi in 2008. By the time DorsaVi listed in December 2013, $10m had been spent on development.
Move to the Vimove groove
Vimove 2 is slated to be launched in the UK this calendar year and in the US in the June quarter next year.
Vimove2 measures, records and analyses movements and muscle activity in the lower back.
As well as being a pain in the lumbar region, dodgy lower backs are said to cost the US economy $US100-200 billion annually.
DorsaVi cites clinical trials that suggest Vimove has reduced the incidence of back pain by 45 per cent and improved functionality by 73 per cent for chronic back pain sufferers.
The devices turn algorithms picked up from the sensors into usable data; and also suggest an exercise and treatment regime for the patient.
Relative to the first iteration of the device, Vimove2 has cut the start time from three minutes to ten seconds and reduces user training time from four hours to ten minutes.
Vimove2 also has “run” and “knee” modules, with Japanese shoe-maker Mizuno using the run and analysis function to help customers choose their shoes.
Vimove currently is used by the US clinical trial group Select Medical across 45 locations.
Sporting chance of success
The sports version is used by all the major US acronyms: the NBA, the NFL and NHL. It’s also deployed by the AFL, the NRL, Cricket Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport here.
The company bashfully adds that it’s used by the New England Patriots, winner of this year’s Super Bowl (and National Hockey League champs Philadelphia Flyers).
The most popular module, the Athletic Movement index, allows sports administrators to benchmark players in terms of susceptibility to injury.
Adding to Dorvasi’s local sporting cred, running hero Herb Elliott was chairman until he retired at last month’s AGM.
In another boardroom change, Caroline Elliott — daughter of John ‘Pigs Arse’ Elliott and no relation to Herb — gained a board seat.
Promoting a safe workplace
In the occupational health and safety sector, Visafe enables managers to measure and mitigate high-risk activities based on actual data, rather than gut feel and opinion.
DorsaVi directly sells Visafe in the UK and here and uses seven agents to tap the $US200 billion US occupational health and safety market.
While DorsaVi gleaned almost half of last year’s revenue from workplace safety consulting, the latest version is pitched more at a do-it-yourself approach.
“Senior management is most interested in the ability to remotely monitor their workforce through an easy to use dashboard,” Ronchi says.
Customers include Crown Casino, Heathrow Airport, the London Underground, the Snowy Hydro Scheme, Coles and Woolworths, BHP Billiton and box maker Orora.
Crown Casino gambles on DorsaVi workplace solution
How many Crown Casino workers does it take to change seven million light globes a year across the gambling den’s vast facilities?
Sorry about the lack of a decent punch line, but the answer is: lots. As with so many other tasks across Crown’s Melbourne and Perth facilities, renewing the globes must be done manually, as do 700 other tasks at Crown’s Melbourne and Perth facilities.
With 15,600 employees and contractors and a rocketing workers compo bill, Crown was an ideal candidate to become DorsaVi’s first dinki-di client.
According to Crown’s general manager (health and wellbeing) Tony Graham, the use of DorsaVi resulted in subtle but important changes to the layout of gaming tables to reduce the incidence of back and other strains suffered by croupiers.
Despite Crown’s palpable enthusiasm for the product — the company has even dubbed its health and safety program The DorsaVi Way — the company has only bought eight sensor kits to date but expects to purchase up to 100.
In December last year DorsaVi raised $7 million in a private placement and share purchase plan.
Last month the company secured a $1.1 million federal government grant, under Canberra’s advanced manufacturing incentive program.
True to the gist of the program, DorsaVi will invest in robotic loaders and optical tracking and calibration equipment.
While DorsaVi’s revenue trajectory has been solid – it’s more a Herb Elliott middle distance stayer than a Stawell Gift winner – we get the impression that potential workplace clients are reluctant to be first movers.
But sales leads have strongly increased in six months, in line with the company’s bolstered marketing push that includes engaging more resellers and other parties such as insurers and health and fitness networks.
“We can’t forecast revenue but these are strong indicators,” Ronchi says.
At DorsaVi’s recent AGM, chairman Tweedly said the US clinical market was critical, as the health sector there is more willing to accept data-driven decision making.
Current Visafe contracts range from $40,000 to $300,000 each. The clinical and sports deals involve an up-front sum of $2000-3000 and then a similar ongoing annual leasing payment.
Dr Boreham’s diagnosis
DorsaVi is often compared to the listed wearables play Catapult Group (ASX code CAT, $1.41), which has developed sports performance monitoring devices and boasts a similar list of big-league clubs as clients.
But while Catapult shares have, well, catapulted since listing in December 2014 at 55c apiece, DorsaVi shares are stuck below their December 2013 listing price of 40c a share.
Still, there’s no denying DorsaVi is playing in a go-go sector.
This column first appeared in Biotech Daily.
Disclosure: Dr Boreham is not a qualified medical practitioner and does not possess a doctorate of any sort. He avoids problems by moving very slowly and very gently at all times.
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