Yacov Geva, CEO LifeWatch : “LifeWatch V opens up new markets, in addition to the US.”
In an exclusive interview to Geneva Business News, Dr. Yacov Geva talks about the opportunities opened up by LifeWatch’s latest breakthrough product : the LifeWatch V, a smartphone equipped with sensors that are used to perform seven healthcare tests, as well as lifestyle monitoring. The product is the first of its kind and has received a great deal of press coverage. It is poised to help reduce the dependency of LifeWatch on the US market. Dr. Geva would also welcome alliances with other smartphone manufacturers in order to increase the reach of the product.
Further details on LifeWatch V can be found here.
Geneva Business News: LifeWatch V has received a great deal of press coverage. Tell us the story behind the scenes. What led you to the design of this product?
“The story began in 1999 with my first patent on the use of cell phones to monitor one’s health and lifestyle.”
Dr. Yacov Geva: The story began in 1999 with my first patent on the use of cell phones to monitor one’s health and lifestyle. My background in telemedicine convinced me of the need for a single device that would be available 24/7, be user-friendly, and be able to monitor the evolution of diseases anytime, anywhere. Consider a child with diabetes. The parents would like to know, at any time, if she has taken the drug according to the prescription, at the prescribed times and right dose. Regardless of where the child is! Furthermore, people have become more conscious about their lifestyle; body fat an
d heart rate are good examples of parameters that they want to monitor. As you may suspect, it has taken us many years to integrate all these healthcare and lifestyle monitoring features into one single device. But we are there now, and proud to be the first on the market.
Now that the product is out, what is your strategy to secure your lead and increase your market share?
Our strategy is simple: keep innovating! We will keep filing as many patents as possible and managing our large intellectual property portfolio. We will also translate our technological lead into breakthrough products and set up strategic alliances to promote these products. With LifeWatch V, we intend to reach out to the consumers, as well. This will give us access to a much larger, worldwide market.
Making phones is not your core business, at least for the time being. Would you then consider licensing your technology to other smartphone manufacturers?
“We are open to alliances with other smartphone manufacturers.”
We are always open to new business models. Although our current focus is on launching LifeWatch V, we are open to alliances with other smartphone manufacturers to extend our reach even further. We would welcome such opportunities.
Where can I buy LifeWatch V?
LifeWatch V will be available within the last quarter of this year. Currently, the main obstacle is getting the approval by regulatory authorities in the targeted countries, as these authorities never certified such a device before. Therefore, there is no time benchmark for us to know how long the process will take. However, we are optimistic. As for the distribution channels, we have explored many of them: selling via local partners and/or directly from an online store. In short, as soon as LifeWatch is approved by regulatory authorities and the agreements with distribution partners are finalized, we will announce all the details about the availability of the product within your area.
“LifeWatch V will be available within the last quarter of this year.”
Are there any plans to partner with mobile operators or health insurance companies?
Definitely yes, there are. We already have many mobile operators and distributors interested in distributing LifeWatch V. Actually, many of these future partners spontaneously contacted us.
There are some deficiencies related to point-of-care testing by non-professionals. For instance, the patients might not have the skill set needed to thoroughly understand the instructions. How do you get round these concerns?
We have many years of experience with consumers, even senior consumers, using our products and services. The feedback is excellent. In April 2012, we conducted a consumer survey which showed that 94% of US LifeWatch Services customers were satisfied with our products and services. We are not talking about satisfaction here but service excellence! We have integrated this excellence into the design of LifeWatch V and therefore expect a very comparable customer feedback right from the launch of the product.
“LifeWatch V opens up new opportunities in new geographical markets and new demographic categories.”
LifeWatch currently depends heavily on the US market. Are there any plans to increase your expansion into other countries?
Geographical diversification is part of our strategy and LifeWatch V will greatly contribute to this plan. As a device that can be purchased by the consumer and used anywhere for both healthcare and lifestyle purposes, LifeWatch V opens up new opportunities in two dimensions: new geographical markets, and new demographic categories. Indeed, patients are not the only market for our product. Anyone who wants to improve their lifestyle, without necessarily being sick, will find in LifeWatch V a very convenient assistant trainer. Diversification in these two directions (new countries and new demographics) will make us less dependent on our current US market.
Talking about Switzerland specifically, how do you intend to reach out to middle-class families willing to monitor their health?
We have already received a huge amount of requests from Swiss consumers asking for a place where they could buy LifeWatch V. As I said, we are in discussions with some partners to get the product out to the consumers. We expect this to be finalized within the fourth quarter of this year.
Currently you do not provide any services in Switzerland similar to to what you offer in the US. Why is this?
”We will announce yet another breakthrough product by mid-November.”
What do you see as the next steps for the LifeWatch V?
The next step has already been planned and is well in the pipeline. We will announce yet another breakthrough product by mid-November. Stay tuned!
There have been some issues between some of LifeWatch’s shareholders and the executive management team. We refer to the Schildknecht-Eberhard group. How do you see these tensions going forward, now that this group has acquired 25.6% of the shares?
From time to time, along the lifetime of a company, there are tensions between some shareholders and the executive management team. The resolution of these tensions has strengthened our strategy and positioning. LifeWatch is on the right track. Our efforts are already paying off, from both financial and product perspectives. We will continue to add value to LifeWatch and benefits to our shareholders.
Dr. Yacov Geva is a co-founder of Card Guard, which acquired LifeWatch, Inc. in 2000, and Instromedix, in 2001. In 2009, Card Guard was renamed LifeWatch AG. Prior to Card Guard, Mr. Geva served as a Chief Mechanical Engineer with Vishay Israel, a subsidiary of Vishay Intertechnology, USA, from 1979-1989. From 1976 -1979 Mr.Geva was employed by the Koor Industries Group as a special projects manager for electronic communication projects. Mr. Geva is a graduate of the Technion-Israeli Institute of Technology, holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical and Nuclear engineering and is a doctor of business administration from the ISM Paris, France.
 Yacov Geva, Personal ambulatory cellular health monitor for mobile patient, US6366871, Filed on March 3rd, 1999. http://bks7.books.google.ml/patents/US6366871?hl=fr