Rubi, the world’s first wearable pregnancy monitor, launches in May through a Kickstarter campaign, said co-founder Nathan Neeley, a senior from California majoring in business management.
The BYU-Hawaii Enactus team plans to present how the pregnancy monitoring bands impact women in rural areas and the islands at the Enactus competition in Kansas City.
The non-profit will distribute the pregnancy monitors throughout clinics in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands since the statistics for stillborns are high in the Pacific Islands, he said. Neeley explained this sector of medical technology has not been updated in decades. In explaining this unique vision of Rubi, he said, “We are a pioneer product of prenatal development. We hope [to] bring down [the] infant mortality rate and increase peace of mind.”
Rubi functions to prevent stillborn deaths, he said, because embedded in a sleek maternity band, patented sensors count the duration of kicks from the baby. The data from the baby is sent to an app on the mother’s smartphone to alert when the baby’s life is at risk.
Worldwide one of every 75 babies are stillborn, while nationwide in the United States 12.5 percent of pregnancies are high risk.
The team’s vision is tied with the United Nations to reduce prenatal mortality rate by 1.2 percent or one of every 60 babies. Rubi is aligned to realize this vision for every mother who is high-risk. The objective is for each mother to walk out of the obstetrics and gynecology clinics with the Rubi pregnancy monitor as firm hope in her hands.
Neeley shared his personal tie with the product. “Growing up my mom worked night shifts as a labor and delivery nurse, and I always wondered why she would come home crying sometimes. Even with my mom working at the top hospitals in California, she still experienced preventable stillbirths. I truly want to be more than just another entrepreneur. I want to create a change in the world, and I believe Rubi is bringing that into fruition.”
Kailey Searle, a junior from Colorado majoring in business management, expressed her excitement in being the newest member of the Rubi team. “The effect of the pregnancy monitors will ripple generation to generation.”
According to Neeley, infants are not surviving to full-term when women lack healthcare access. The mothers and babies remain in critical need. The Rubi team seeks to establish relations with third world countries to form the non-profit.
Bianca Neeley, a former midwife and Nathan Neeley’s wife, reflected on her personal experiences with pregnant women in clinics. With care, she remarked, “I immediately thought of the tiny hospital I worked at in Vanuatu and how beneficial a Rubi band would have been while you’re out there in the middle of nowhere with an anxious first-time mother, a prehistoric Doppler giving inaccurate readings, and a power outage. A Rubi band would have been a game changer on so many levels.”
The technology for Rubi first began in 2010 when Dr. Anton Bowden, a professor at BYU, developed the world’s most highly deflective piezo resistant nickel infused silicon strain gauge sensors. Throughout the past decade, these sensors have been tested extensively, Nathan Neeley said. Rubi Life LLC has been in progress for a year now. More than $1 million in funding, and accredited through 13 Ph.D. researchers, who have studied applications from the technology for thesis work, Rubi placed first in the Utah Entrepreneur Competition and second nationwide.
This summer Rubi team will be traveling to China to meet with manufactures. Professor Jason S. Earl, academic director for the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship said $1,000 has been allocated for the Rubi Project in the goal to establish a distribution center for Rubi.
The support for Rubi includes participators from BYUH, BYU in Provo, the University of Utah, and midwives throughout the United States, Neeley said.
Tonga is one of the target countries to distribute the Rubi pregnancy monitor. Mele Morey, a freshman from Utah majoring in Hawaiian studies, offered her immediate family in Tonga connections to network Rubi in the region. Morey explains: “My roots in Tonga come from a legacy of doing things for others ,and in doing so, changing the world around you as well as expanding that influence. The people there [in Tonga] are open and welcoming to things that can allow them to progress, such as Rubi.”
The Rubi team would like support from students and local community members to form solid connections with the medical clinics of the Pacific Islands.
If there is any interest in networking, “RubiKicks” can be found on Twitter and Instagram.