WAT Medical enhances homecare medical technology with neuromodulation-based devices

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

WAT Medical develops the anti-nausea wristband to relieve motion sickness. Credit: WAT Medical

Medication has been the most common but not always the best way to treat debilitating conditions like motion sickness and migraine. Vancouver-based WAT Medical Enterprise uses neuromodulation to develop medical technologies, offering the public an alternative. Its non-invasive therapy options have become available in Asia this year.

According to Dr. Peter Ji, WAT Medical's co-founder and product manager, although plenty of medical technologies are accessible, the homecare medical technology - one can use at home - has been insufficient. Moreover, medication may produce the intended results for some people, but it could also add burden to others due to the side effects.

Ji said WAT Medical aims to deliver therapy options without medication. The company's core technology is based on neuromodulation, using target electrical impulses to trigger specific physiological responses in the human body's central nervous system.

Using electrical impulses to tackle motion sickness, migraine

WAT Medical has launched EmeTerm, an anti-nausea wristband, and HeadaTerm, an anti-migraine device.

Ji explained that the anti-nausea wristband sends electrical impulses modulated to target the vomiting center in the brain. The vomiting center sends out signals to the gastrointestinal system, inducing contraction and vomiting when one gets carsick or experiences drug-induced vomiting and other conditions.

Ji said the device uses electrical pulses to shut down signals from the vomiting center to achieve an anti-nausea effect.

The anti-migraine device, which is put on one's forehead, also leverages specifically target electrical impulses to stimulate the human body's central nervous system, according to Ji. He said electrical pulses will induce more release of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and endorphins, and hormones like norepinephrine to combat migraine and increase pain tolerance.

The two products are available in the US, Canada, Australia, and many other countries. WAT Medical also began to sell the devices in China earlier this year.

Ji said the company sells about 100,000 anti-nausea wristbands annually, with most sales occurring in the US.

"Even though it may appear at first glance that motion sickness is a pretty niche market, there's a pretty high demand for it," he added.

WAT Medical is seeking the US Food and Drug Administration's over-the-counter approval for the anti-migraine device, which is available through prescriptions in the country. Ji said the company anticipates receiving the approval in early 2024. It has no doubt that the device will achieve a greater sales number than the anti-nausea solution once it becomes over-the-counter available.

Creating consumer devices containing medical components

According to Ji, WAT Medical improves the current prototype and device constantly, even if they have hit the market. He said the company is working on integrating the anti-nausea wristband with a smartwatch so people can use it as a medical device and day-to-day wearable technology. The new product is slated to launch in June 2024.

The effort of designing a smartwatch with an anti-nausea function shows how WAT Medical is targeting the sweet spot between a medical and a consumer device. Ji said the goal is to make users not feel like they are wearing a medical device.

"We want them to, hopefully, wear a watch that can serve their day-to-day needs but also has an anti-nausea function if that is what they need at the moment," he said.

The approach will also benefit WAT Medical's sales in online platforms besides pharmacies and hospitals. Ji said the company foresees most of its upcoming technologies as a consumer device with a medical component.

One of the products that WAT Medical has been developing is a device using neuromodulation to lower blood pressure. Ji said the product has shown promising efficacy and is undergoing clinical trials in China. The company is looking to receive FDA approval and introduce the device to the market by 2024.

WAT Medical has conducted most of its research and development in Canada and produced products in China. The US has been the company's primary market, according to Ji.

As its medical solutions become available in China, WAT Medical is ready to expand its footprints to Taiwan and form partnerships. Ji said the company is interested in contacting distributors in Taiwan. It is also looking for clinical trial partners. He said WAT Medical's experiences in the North American market would facilitate its expansion in Asia.

Dr. Peter Ji is WAT Medical’s co-founder and product manager. Credit: WAT Medical

Dr. Peter Ji is WAT Medical’s co-founder and product manager. Credit: WAT Medical