Zume Life is a San Jose start-up that is planning to develop its own dedicated device to allow individuals to keep track of and manage their own care regimen. It’s target users are individuals with complex care requirements- taking a multiple medications, specific diets, frequent measurements, daily exercise etc. What they offer is a ‘Zumi Life Service’ that helps coordinate the logistics of doing these multiple activities. The service can be accessed via the device, an iPhone app, and a website. The device (designed by Dubberly Design Office, seems still under development) is called “Zuri” and below is a pic and video that, interestingly enough, I found elsewhere on the web.
In an effort to understand what is unique about Zumi Life, I stumbled upon this interview with its CEO. Crunchbase tells me that they started with $700k seed funding in 2007 and got a Series A infusion of $1M in April 2008. With that context, several questions come to mind. Zume Life needs manual input for all the data it needs from the user- and that assumes the user to be reliable enough to put it in. If Zuri had a sensor to automatically capture the critical vitals (like Zeo, Bodymedia, DirectLife, FitBit, LifeShirt and scores of other devices), that would make it infinitely more useful. But I understand that there is no automatic sensor for your mood or for what you just ate, so somethings need to be captured manually. Which is why there are services like RememberItNow, Reqall, Zealog, Polka etc. Still, why not get the medication list for Zuri from PHR platforms like Google Heath? If we assume that the chronically ill and overworked individual remembers to input their care regimen in one place, why wouldn’t they use a simple paper sticky note or a smartphone reminder app? Even a simple Google Calendar or 30Boxes event can be configured to deliver reminder emails that show up as audible, sms alerts on your phone. So is there really a need for a dedicated hardware device in a world that is slowly converging mobile computing platforms? Zuri reminds me of the device that is made to do twitter only.
The price tag was also a bit of surprise. Although there is no official mention of pricing on the Zume Life website, I found a PCmag article from Sept’09 that quotes $35/month or $300/year for the service, and $4.99 for the iPhone app. That sounds way too much money for a basic alerting and journal-keeping service that is 100% manual entry based.
Of course, it’s easy to criticize others idea. I don’t have the complete facts on the service, its utilization and its founder’s vision. The overall trend of using patient-oriented hardware devices integrated with web and mobile dashboard/analytics to manage chronic conditions is for real. I just think sensors are a key aspect of such devices and that pricing can be Achilles heel for adoption.
Early 2010 Update: ZumeLife has closed operations and is no longer in business.