Years ago, autonomous vehicles could be thought of as nothing but fiction. As technology advances, more and more people have been cozying up to self-driving cars and their positive impact on the environment. Jeffrey Bleich, the Chief Legal Officer for Cruise, joins Dr. Diane Hamilton in this episode to talk about his work and what we can expect from technology as far as automation goes. He dives into the pros and cons we might encounter before this tech becomes integrated into our daily lives. He also shares some solutions and strategies that can be implemented in order to secure our privacy while still enjoying the many benefits of this technology.
The winner of three innovation competitions, the author of six patents, and a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of industry experience, Marko Höynälä invented the three game-changing IoT products: Skiiot, Cmicro, and Kipuwex. A natural-born innovator, Marko is making a difference in the world by helping people and solving problems. Today, he sits down with Dr. Diane Hamilton to share his journey into becoming the CEO of Kipuwex as well as what got him interested in the health-related field, particularly in pain measurement.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Jeff Bleich and Marko Höynälä here. Jeffrey is the Chief Legal Officer at Cruise. He’s the former special counsel to President Obama and US Ambassador to Australia, among a lot of other things. Marko is the CEO at Kipuwex. What he’s working on there could revolutionize the medical industry. These gentlemen are fascinating and doing great things around the globe.
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A Sneak Peek At The Future Of Autonomous Vehicles With Jeffrey Bleich
I am here with Jeff Bleich, who is a Chief Legal Officer at Cruise. He’s been special counsel to President Obama, US Ambassador to Australia, President of the State Bar, Partner of two international law firms, a Special Master in the US Courts Supreme Court Clerk, Professor at UC Berkeley Law, and even has a center of technology named for him in Australia. That’s not much. It’s so nice to have you here, Jeff.
It’s great to be on your show. Thanks for having me.
Welcome. It was so nice to have Johnson introduce us. I know that you’ve done so many amazing things. It was hard to know how to introduce you because I’m like, “Which one?” I want to talk a little bit about what you’re doing, not only at Cruise but at the Bleich Centre in Australia. Can you give me a backstory? How do you get to this level of success? You really have done a lot.
I’ve been very lucky. I’m sort of the Forrest Gump of the American policy. I happen to wander into the right room at the right time. I have not had a plan. Mostly I’ve followed things that I thought were important. That got me interested and excited about working on them. That’s led me into some very good places. The other, if there’s a key to my career, is I look for people who I admire and I try and spend more time with them. That tends to bring you into some interesting work as well.
I understand what you’re saying. I always tell my students, “You don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. You want to surround yourself with people who know things you don’t know or have different experiences to grow. You can’t imagine who you’re going to find that hasn’t done something you’ve done.” This is quite a list but before we go into Cruise and the Centre, how did you get associated with President Obama?Look for people who you admire and try to spend more time with them. That tends to bring you into some interesting work. Click To Tweet
I was clerking for a judge in the DC Circuit and we heard about this hotshot who was the president of the Harvard Law Review. The judge who had been a theater judge to the Supreme Court asked me where Barack Obama is going to be clerking and I said, “I haven’t heard that he’s clerking for anyone.” I said, “We’ll give them a call.” I called him up and had a great conversation. I remember I went and saw Judge Merrick afterward. I said, “The good news is this guy is even better on the phone than he was on paper, and he was amazing on paper. The bad news is he doesn’t want to clerk.” The judge said, “Give me his resume.” He was going to make a phone call and calls him up, it comes back into my office, and he goes, while he’s pointing at Obama’s resume, “Now this is the kind of guy I ought to be hiring.” I’m like, “Do you mean instead of me?” He goes, “Call him again.” I called him again and I wasn’t successful in recruiting him, but he got successful at recruiting me and we developed a friendship. I enjoyed working with him.
I had a few people who have worked with Obama. I don’t know what’s going on but I happened to run into a few of you guys. It’s interesting to see where your career has gone and the things you’re doing. You’re the chief legal officer at Cruise. That’s exciting. You’re teaming up with Microsoft. You got an all-electric vehicle. I want to hear a little bit about that because a lot of people are familiar with Tesla’s and different things. What is Cruise and what are you doing there?
Cruise was an exciting opportunity for me because I was looking for how you can have a positive impact on the world. After you’ve been the special counsel to the president and the US ambassador, you do want to be able to affect positive change at scale. What Cruise has done is they took some amazing technology. One of the cofounders, Kyle Vogt, is brilliant. This is his second multibillion–dollar company and he’s still young. He also ran seven marathons on seven continents in five days. He’s an amazing human being.
He had developed some technology that would accomplish two important things. One is great AV technology that could dramatically reduce injuries, accidents, and traffic. All the things that human-driven vehicles have been plaguing us with for decades and do some things by virtue of being an all-electric vehicle. Not just electric vehicles, but designed to be powered only by renewable, sustainable, non-carbon producing energy sources, like turbines and solar.
Were there no batteries?
There were batteries. He teamed up with some major investors. General Motors, Honda, SoftBank, and Microsoft. We’re at that exciting point in our journey. At the beginning of 2021, we’re valued at $30 billion and we don’t have a product yet. We’re looking forward to coming out. It will be a ride health service and a delivery service that will give people the freedom to have access to vehicles, who, up until now, have had all sorts of challenges with driving. Members of the disabled community and older people, but also every single person.
Once we hit superhuman driving performance, we’ll be safer in one of these vehicles than one would be by putting their own child behind the wheel with them because we’re imperfect drivers. At the same time, you clean the environment, you open up the roads by reducing traffic, you give people their time back, and reduce the cost of mobility. You open up the cities too because a lot of space that’s used for parking can be redirected to make it more habitable and enjoyable by human beings.
I have so many people on my show trying to be the next unicorn and I teach a lot of entrepreneurship courses. At what point do you go IPO? I guess you have to have a product.
I don’t know in my current world. Other companies haven’t had that philosophy. Our vehicles are already on the road in San Francisco. One of the things that we decided to do was learn how to drive in the hardest spaces.
How was the parallel parking? Is it any good on a hill?
It’s very good on hills but when you think about the great marathon, they trained in the mountains in Kenya with low oxygen. You train where it’s hardest, so that’s where we’ve been training in the streets of San Francisco. In terms of when we wouldn’t have some liquidity event, I wouldn’t be a very good chief legal officer if I were the one who slipped up on that.
I thought I might get that out of you. I’m so excited, though it’s interesting to look at some of the technology coming out and where it’s headed. My father was born legally blind so the self-driving car would have fascinated him had he lived to see all this. He had 2% vision so he would have appreciated it so much. I had Erik Weihenmayer on my show, the guy who was all the way blind, and he hiked all the mountains. He was telling me some of the cool technology they have. I’m always fascinated by that. I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes. I’m going to have to do more research on Cruise. I did for having you on the show and I didn’t realize when we’re going to have the vehicles out there. Did you ever have a timeframe when you expect this?
We have received permission, we’re actually driving in San Francisco with no one behind the wheel. If you’ve seen self-driving vehicles in Arizona, where there are a lot of them, and we were driving in Arizona as well. Normally, what you’ll see is maybe a pilot behind the wheel, to be there in case you need to take over for whatever reason. We’re the first company that’s driving with no one behind the wheel in San Francisco. As we’re monitoring how that goes, the next stage is that we applied for a couple of permits that would allow us to start taking occupants first without charge to develop the skill. Eventually, to begin having fair paying people get into the vehicles. That’s the trajectory that we’re on. We also filed the petition for us to be able to start driving people without a fare. Hopefully, that will be approved and we’ll be on to that next phase.
Your site is cool. I hope people go to GetCruise.com because they show what the vehicles look like and they give a lot of detail of how much market there is. It’s an interesting site. I want to talk about your other site, the air of your Bleich Centre in Australia. How did that get started?
When I was an ambassador in Australia, I’d given a couple of speeches at Flinders which is a University in South Australia. Although I’m a huge fan of technology and think it’s brought a lot of great benefits to us, I talked about any tool in the wrong hands or for the wrong purpose can do tremendous damage. A hammer can build a house or it can break someone’s skull, depending on who’s wielding it and why. At this point, it was probably 2010 and I gave a speech about how technology can be used, frankly, to undermine democracies, as easily as if it had been shown to help democracies. With the uprisings, which are basically Twitter, Facebook uprisings in Tunisia, and the Arab Spring which had brought down authoritarians and dictators.
I said, “The authoritarians and dictators saw that too.” What they’re going to do is try and use the same tools and they’ll have the power of armies and the resources of massive governments and intelligence networks and all of the other things that the authoritarian governments have. They’ll say, “If a rebel could take down a government with these tools, imagine what we can do with it.” They will use it to disrupt democracies, sow mistrust, dispense misinformation and disinformation, dirty the information field. Also, undermine the two things that are central to a democracy which are truth and trust. Our building knows what the facts are, so we can make decisions as a people about who we want to represent us and the direction we want them to go.
It seemed like a very dark speech when I gave it but a couple of years later, they were saying, “You may be on to something.” They asked me if I would give the speech again because they were thinking of developing a program at Flinders in this area. Digital technology, security, and governance. One of their donors was kind enough when he said that he wanted to help on the Centre, but when they tried to name it for him, he said, “This isn’t my subject. The reason I’m donating is because I heard Ambassador Bleich speak about it, name it for him.” That’s how they named it for me.
What exactly are you doing with them now?
I serve on the advisory board, and I’m a professor simultaneously with my job.
Tell me about what you’re teaching.
I’m giving mostly lectures on these subjects relating to digital technology, security, and governance. Some of them are about what we should be doing internationally in terms of forming agreements just as there are rules of the road in India, the Law of the Sea, for example, or nations put together their own set of protocols with regard to chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. We should have laws that govern the rules of war in cyberspace. That’s one of the initiatives. I’ll take the example of what I’ve been working on. Autonomous vehicles, as I said, could do amazing things. It saves lives, save the environment, and all that.
In the wrong hands, there are countries out there that are thinking, “Let’s take these machines that are going to be on every navigable space on earth and use their data collection abilities to gather information about people who are on the street. Run biometrics on their faces, know where everyone is all the time, use it to support surveillance capitalism or authoritarian governments.” There’s going to be a race in the world. Are these going to be used to advance mobility while protecting people’s privacy, or are they going to be used as yet another platform to take people’s data without their knowledge and use it to manipulate them in other ways that people didn’t consent to?
How do you avoid that?Any tool in the wrong hands or for the wrong purpose can do tremendous damage. Click To Tweet
A combination. You need rules. We’re pushing for the development of norms in the US that could become the gold standard around the world. This is a market that we should dominate as a country. We’ve got some of the leading technology in it, but it’s not a technology race with other countries. It’s also a trust race. Will people trust this technology? I don’t think they’ll trust it unless it’s safe and that it’s being used to get them from place to place. It’s not just a vehicle for capturing their data and monetizing it.
It’s such a crazy time to see what’s being created. Having a law background helped you with a lot of things, but how did you get the tech knowledge?
As I said, I’m just lucky. I fell in love with my wife when we were in college. She was from the Silicon Valley area. Her dad was an electrical engineer who then went to tech companies in Silicon Valley. When we were deciding where to live, her will was stronger than mine, so we came out here to San Francisco, and I started working, and a lot of my clients were tech companies. I did the first cyber breach case for Microsoft. That brought me into the world of cybersecurity and cyber threats. I thought, “This is going to be important.” We’re going to be living more and more of our lives in the virtual world and we’re going to need to have true security and the internet was not designed with security in mind. We’ve been patching it ever since. For that reason, this will be a big challenge for us in the decades ahead. I delved into that world and it’s proved to be a very interesting, challenging, and important place to devote my energy.
I can’t get over the field of cybersecurity and how important it’s been. My husband is a physician and they’ve tried to hack him. This is such a huge field. This field that you’re in where you teach and you deal with all these really interesting issues of what’s going to happen in the future. I’m sure you’re talking about a lot of that. Who are your students? Who goes to your courses? I’m curious about the demographic.
One of the great things about Flinders is that South Australia was a large automotive manufacturing hub from Ford and Kenworth. Over the last number of years, because of the supply chain, the cost, and everything else in Australia, those industries had started to wither. The South Australian government decided to focus on national security, defense, and technology more generally. They took all of these former plants and had the local universities. There are some great universities like Flinders that have been around for many years to take over these facilities and start developing technology hubs.
They also had the foresight to say, “At the same time we’re creating this technology, we should learn from mistakes of the past and make sure we have some rules of the road for how human beings are going to navigate this new digital terrain.” They have been creating courses in that space. It’s attracted this generation. This generation grew up with iPhones and iPads. They can’t imagine a world without them. They live most of their lives in the digital world. If you think about the physical world and the cyber world, and where most of their waking hours are spent, it’s in the digital world. They have a tremendous facility, tremendous curiosity, and an innate, instinctual appreciation for the challenge. We’ve been getting students from all over Australia and all over the world taking courses at the Centre.
I write and study curiosity. I’d love that, obviously. I also teach at several different universities and one of them is a technology-based University here in Arizona. Those students are some of the brightest and most interesting. It’s so much fun to teach those courses because I learn, every time I teach, from them. They bring up some technology. I have an Oculus Quest too because of that course. I’m like, “This is cool. I’m glad they told me about it.” I’m so used to teaching business, but to get the tech aspect, it’s fascinating. Do you learn a lot from your students?
Yes. It is mind-blowing. One of the great things for me about taking this job is I mostly work with younger people. I’m like the wise old owl in the building and you have these young, brilliant people who are coming up with mind-blowing solutions to challenges. Internally, we have what we call the patent Oscars where people patented their technology and wanted to talk about what it does. It’s an incredibly humbling experience to see these young engineers coming up with things that truly have never been invented in all of humankind. They’re going to have a major impact on the future of how we all live.
It’s fascinating to me because I’m teaching an entrepreneurship course right now in that particular University and they all come up with these ideas. I’m like, “I never thought of that.” One student who was transferring an old 8-millimeter film to digital in a different way than anybody’s ever tried to get some of the old archives. It’s in a much less expensive way compared to what’s out there and to make it so everybody could do it out of their homes kind of thing if they have old films. I’m like, “That’s a cool idea.” He’s thought of how to do it in a different way than somebody else. That’s why I find it so fun to teach in that realm. As you do all these things, that legal counsel, teacher, and everything else that you do, what’s your next thing? That’s like going to the moon. You’d be like, “I’ve done that.” What do you get next?
For one thing, I’m happy where I am, which is a nice place to be and that’s not always true in careers. I tend to be happier, as a general rule, than most people. Part of it is because I do try and pick things that I’m excited about doing. I look for good people to do them with but that doesn’t mean that you don’t occasionally find yourself in a place where you think, “I thought this thing was going to be one thing and it’s another.” I’m in a happy place. I enjoy the work I’m doing.
One of the other side jobs I have is, I’m the chair of the board of a company that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange that’s focused on taking unstructured data and making it useful and digestible. It’s all about the same thing. It’s truth and trust in the digital world. It’s been used for things like the Panama Papers that unpacked all that information so that journalists could see where people were hiding money offshore, engaging in misconduct, and money laundering. Likewise, the Royal Commission in Australia used the technology as part of an inquiry into banking services. There’s a concern about corruption there. I’m already finding ways in my post–White House life where I feel like you can make the world safer and I’m focusing on the digital world, making that world safer.
It’s a big place.
If I find anything different to do, I’d imagine it would be in the same space. This is something that I love doing and I’m excited when I wake up in the morning to do it.
It’s fun to look back at all the things. I was looking at the awards you’ve won. California Lawyer Attorney of the Year is quite an honor. You’ve won about every legal award. You’re on all the top lists. It’s got to be rewarding to get acknowledged but I feel that you’re so humble about what you’ve accomplished. I appreciate that quality because you’ve done some amazing things. I was reading your bio, and I love that you wrote you love dogs and cats. I’m like, “In case Luna decides to make an appearance today. We’re good.” I love bad movies too, though. What’s your favorite bad movie?
That was good. I love Vince Vaughn but that was a good bad movie. There’s one and I wish I could remember what it was called. It was about a CIA in Cuba or so. This guy corrected everybody’s grammar. It’s one of my favorite movies.
I already like that. You’re just describing it to me. That’s my kind of movie.
It’s one of those movies that everybody else would never think is great but I loved it. Maybe it’s because my father corrected everything on grammar. It was so fun to have you on the show. I’m glad that everything that you’re working on sounds amazing. Just from my work on the board of advisors at DocuSign and Radius AI and some of the boards that I’m on, I appreciate the high tech of what people do and the amazing minds behind it. I know there’s GetCruise.com, and if they go to Flinders.edu.au and look up your name, they could find you. If anybody wants to follow you or follow your company, is there any other site or social media or anything you’d like to share?
I have a website, but I’ve never got around to populating it. One of the nice things about it is it’s got a way of getting in contact with me. If you look up, Jeff Bleich and go to the website, Squarespace will send any inquiries to me. I try and keep up with emails. I may not respond in the same day but I’ll respond. The nice thing about the internet is, if you’re not trying to hide, it’s pretty easy to find you. You can find me on LinkedIn.
All the things that you do are so amazing. Thank you so much for being my guest, Jeff. It was fun to meet you.
It was fun to meet you too, Diane. Thanks for having me.
Innovating The Measurement Of Pain With Marko Höynälä
I am here with Marko Höynälä, who is the CEO of Kipuwex. He’s the winner of three innovation competitions, author of six patents, and serial entrepreneur with more than twenty years of industry experience. A father of following game-changing Internet of Things products. It’s so nice to have you here, Marko.
Thank you, Diane, for inviting me. It’s a pleasure.
I was looking forward to this because I’m interested in what your company works on. I was in the pharmaceutical industry for 15 years of the 20 years I worked at AstraZeneca. Medical devices and the pharmaceutical industry, in general, fascinate me. I watched a video of some of the stuff that you’re working on there. I want to get into that, but before we do, can you give a little background on how you became the CEO of Kipuwex? What led up to this point, your backstory, if you wouldn’t mind?
I graduated in 1995 as a telecommunication engineer. I started to work at a large company called Nokia. I started to work a couple of years in Finland. I then moved to Denmark when Nokia was expanding. I was in Denmark for five years. Nokia still kept expanding. There was new technology coming on board. It was 3G at that point. I moved to UK where I lived for three years. Nokia was expanding again and a new technology came on board, which was 4G. I was asked whether I want to go to India. This was a bit of hesitation from my side. In the end, I decided to go there together with my family. I had three young children at that time. I spent two years in India in a city called Bangalore.
After ten years, I returned back to Finland. I continued working in technologies. All the time, I was involved in digitalization, innovations, and operational matters. Our modern technology was acquired by a Japanese company called Renesas. I was with Renesas for three years and then a company from the US, Broadcom acquired the modern technology from Renesas. I worked for two years with Broadcom. Overall, I’ve been working in the mobile business for around twenty years. It was in 2015. At that time, there was a new technology coming heavily. A technology called the Internet of Things, IoT. I decided to start as an entrepreneur. This is how I started. I gathered quite a lot of experience from these large companies. In 2015, I was brave enough to start my own company.
That’s quite a background. As you were mentioning the 4G thing, I’m wondering how big is the 5G thing going to be? Is that a huge difference or not? I’m not up on how the difference is.Pain is very difficult to quantify. Click To Tweet
That remains to be seen. It will bring some extra benefit. Data speed is the key thing here but it’s not yet widely deployed. It will come. Later on, they will be coming out with 6G. 5G will still take a little bit of time before it’s deployed globally.
Your background is fascinating. You’re talking about a lot of different industries. What got you interested in the health-related field?
In 2015, when I started as an entrepreneur, I wanted to do something in the medical field. At that time, I didn’t have proper connections to the right healthcare people, so I could not open the doors with the hospitals. Even though I knew at that point that the current processes or methods and equipment are quite old-fashioned, and there will be a lot of room for improvement. Digitalization will play a big role there.
I started with a sports-related technology but I was keeping an eye on that all the time that when I had a chance, I will do something for medical because it has been close to my heart. Finally, in 2017, there was an innovation competition organized by Oulu University Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals in Finland where doctors and nurses listed the four major problems. It was global problems where they would like to see a solution.
One of these problems they listed was pain management and pain identification of babies. This raised my interest that maybe I can do something for healthcare. I was surprised that no one has ever done innovation or solution, which could take and identify and measure the pain of the child or baby. I made my own proposal on how pain can be measured. To my surprise, I won that innovation competition. This was how Kipuwex got started in 2017.
This is fascinating to me because my husband is a physician and with my pharmaceutical training and everything that I’ve had in the medical field, our perception of pain could be different. Since I write about perception, this ties into that as well. Are you measuring someone’s actual pain? What are you measuring?
Obviously, pain is difficult to quantify. The pain of the child is our focus. Measuring the pain for babies under the age of seven. It’s a combination of things that will happen when a baby or toddler is having pain. There are some behavioral factors and physical factors that will contribute to the pain event. In our device, we need to take into account both physiological and behavioral factors. Let’s do an example. When a baby is having pain, crying is one indicator of pain. It’s not the only indicator but it’s one good indicator that the baby is in pain.
There are other things that will happen when babies have pain. Blood pressure will change. Breathing, the respiratory rate will change, temperature. Skin conductivity, and EGT, meaning heart rate variability and many other things will happen. We’ll start in the body. How they try to assess the pain in the hospital is they take all these factors into account, and all of them will be evaluated separately. I’ll give you 2 points for crying, 3 points for movement, 2 points for skin conductivity. Calculating all these biomarkers. Summing them up, seventeen points equals seventeen pain. It’s an observation-based method.
The baby is also hooked up to several different machines. It’s time taking, visual-based, and expensive. In hospital settings, they only do this pain assessment a few times per day. Consequences are fatal if the pain is not assessed and managed properly because the central nervous system of the baby is not yet developed. If the baby is constantly suffering from the pain, then the consequences are fatal. It can cause lifelong trauma, disorder in development, mental disorders, or mental problems later on. It’s important that pain is properly managed, especially when the person is young or a baby. It’s a combination of behavioral and physical factors that we take into account. We capture all these different parameters and biomarkers with a single device. It has been quite surprising for us to integrate all these sensors and biomarkers into a single device. We have simplified the process entirely. We pretty much follow what they currently do in the hospital, but we have automated the entire process.
I’ve seen your video. The device is small enough to fit in your hand. You attach this to your skin somehow. How does it work exactly?
It’s a tiny device. It will be put on the chest with the disposable ETC pad. All these different biomarkers will be measured with a single device. Basically, a patient doesn’t need to wear any additional device. With a single device, we are able to monitor all the key vitals and with the help of AI. AI is playing a key role here. We look at a correlation between different signals. The AI is then able to determine the pain based on the correlation between the signals.
Does it replace how many devices by having it into one thing? What kinds of things don’t you need if you have this?
It’s better to ask, what do we measure?
That might be better.
We capture both the behavioral and physiological parameters. We measure, for instance, the movement of the baby, the vertical angle, the sound of the baby, temperature, respiratory rate, skin conductivity, ETT, heart rate variability, R to R interval, heart rate, and ENT, which is muscle tension. In total, we measure eleven. With the help of eleven parameters, we are able to determine the pain of the child.
Is this just for children? Is this another use? I’m curious who else can use this?
When we have all these different parameters or biomarkers indicated in a single device, it will make it possible to measure the pain, but this is not only a pain measurement device. It’s a patient monitoring device or a remote monitoring device but it has the ability to measure the pain as well. When we talk about pain, the chosen parameters are relevant for babies. For instance, crying doesn’t play any role when we talk about pain for adults. In our first version, we are just focusing from the pain point of view of babies under the age of seven. Later on, we’ll try to get it working also for adults. As of now, we focus on babies.
Where are you using this? In what countries and what areas? Is there an app associated with it? How does it work?
Where we are focusing, if we think about global problems, we are addressing three major global problems. One is erasing the cost of healthcare. Approximately, around 100 million people are pushed into poverty because of health spending every year. Chronic pain is a global problem. Around 20% of adults are suffering from pain globally. In the US, pain management will cost around $600 billion every year. The third thing that we want to address is the fact that 3.7 billion people still do not have access to essential health services. We have been tackling all these three major problems with Kipuwex.
We are making this solution affordable also for developing countries. Most of these problems are valid in developing countries. They are lacking in medical devices simply because they are expensive. Of course, the current monitoring devices are also large, big boxes with wires and everything. We have simplified the entire process. Our initial focus is developing countries but as soon as we have validated the pain calculation part, then we will be targeting ourselves into the EU and later in the US market as well.All problems are solvable; it's just a matter of time and money. Click To Tweet
I’m just curious how this works in technology. Does it send a signal to the computer or to something else where you’re able to monitor it? How does it work exactly?
The device itself will be put on the chest with a disposable ETC pad and then it will send all this information via Bluetooth into a mobile phone or tablet. Alternatively, it’s possible to use a gateway. People with the proprietary gateway. Hospitals, for instance, don’t want to use mobile phones at all. It’s possible to use the Kipuwex gateway for that purpose, but it’s wireless with Bluetooth.
As we’re talking about this, my daughter had seen a doctor during this COVID time. They didn’t want her to come in so they gave her some kind of device to take home to look down her throat, ear, and different things. It will take pictures or do whatever and send it back to the doctor. I’m curious what the market is for these kinds of devices, in general. How do you compete? Do you have competition for what you’re doing?
In the basic monitoring area, there’s a lot of competition. There are so many players for that. What the future will be like is a remote monitoring device. As we have seen during the COVID-19 situation is that people are hesitant to go to the hospital. They only want to go there if they are suffering from something fatal but for normal checkups, they don’t want to go there. They just go online. In the future, we’ll make it possible to do all the necessary measurements from home. In many countries, they have realized that but they lack a proper solution.
What they do is they pack different types of equipment and they send these boxes to homes. Obviously, it’s not the entire solution or complete solution because they send a thermometer, heartrate bell, some other machines, and some instructions on how to use it. It’s not the complete solution because people don’t know how to use the different types of equipment. The information doesn’t go from home to hospital settings. It doesn’t address this problem properly. What will happen in the future is that there will be 1, 2, or maybe 3 devices and all these three devices are able to capture all the essential biomarkers from the patient. The information will go from the home directly to the hospital ID system. This is appealing and where we’re coming into the picture.
I’m curious for a company like Apple who has worked on sensors for their watches and their different things. Have they incorporated anything that comes close to what you’re doing into their technology?
With Apple Watch, it’s possible to do many things. They have more biomarkers but some of these biomarkers that we measure are difficult to measure from the wrist. You need to place the device on the chest in order to get reliable measurements. The difference is that there are some medical devices like sports watches. They measure many biomarkers, but they are not medically approved devices and the measurements are not necessarily reliable.
How did you learn all the sensor requirements? What did you have to do to figure out how to do this? This is complicated. You’re measuring a lot of different things. Sensors are not exactly taught in every aspect of every job that you might have had. I’m curious where you got this knowledge.
It’s probably my mindset. All the problems are solvable. It’s just a matter of time and money. This is my attitude, even though I necessarily have not answered all the problems, but I know that they can be solved. One example, because this is also my nature, when I see some problems, I start to think about how we can solve this problem. Obviously, many problems are not necessarily big problems and there is no business opportunity, then I don’t do anything.
If I see a global problem and I have an idea that this can be solved, then I start thinking about what kind of technology can be used for that. As an example and this is one of my innovations, I was using a microwave oven. Almost everyone has used a microwave. You put food in the microwave and then you need to choose power and time. Let’s say pizza, two minutes, and then when you hear a bing. You take the pizza out from the microwave, it’s either too cold or too hot. How would you then ensure that it is at the right temperature? Do you use your finger to measure the temperature? How do you do it?
This was one problem that I faced. Why can’t we choose the right temperature from the beginning? From the control panel, you could choose, “Baby milk, I want to have it at 37 degrees. On my pizza, I prefer to have it 67 degrees.” Why can’t I choose the right temperature instead of choosing the power and time or guessing? Is it possible to make a solution for that? I was thinking of the impossible. You cannot put any metal into a microwave.
I was in a sauna. Most people know that Finnish people like a sauna. People go a couple of times, maybe three times. Some people even go every day to the sauna. I was sitting in the sauna and thinking of this problem, “Is it possible to put anything metal into a microwave?” “I will test.” After sauna, I drink 1 or 2 beers. I took one of the beer cans. I put it in the microwave. If I am right, I can have it. Nothing happens. I put it in for ten seconds and nothing happened. I then took the beer can out from the microwave and it was still cold.
“What will happen if I keep it there for one minute?” I keep it there for one minute and the beer was still cold. Nothing happened to the beer can in the microwave. I was like, “It’s possible to put some metal inside the microwave. What if I put electronics inside the beer can, can it still survive?” That was my first experiment. I managed to put in for three minutes. I opened the beer and put some electronics inside, I then put that beer back in the microwave and I tried again.
Now I have electronics inside the beer can in the microwave. It’s still survived. That was my first prototype that we are able to put some electronics inside the microwave. We started to proceed further. It was three years of hard work and experiment. I’m still right that we have the only microwave in the world which is temperature-controlled. You can choose the right temperature from the microwave panel. That is the microwave that we use in the office on my employees.
I love the curiosity. I’m a curiosity expert. I love that you’re fascinated. It’s interesting to see what leads to innovation. A lot of it is what will happen if I do this and why don’t we do it this way, or why do we do it that way kind of thinking. I don’t know how it works in Finland. Bear with my ignorance here. Is your company public or private? Where are you in that process? Can people buy stocks in your company? Where are you in the development?
We’re talking about a medical device. Making a game-changing medical device is a long journey and it’s damn expensive. We have been developing this awesome device for about 3.5 years. We are in the final stage of R&D. We have done 4 or 5 different prototypes. We have the final hardware in our hands. We have done most of the approval tests and other tests that will allow us to go to market. When we talk about the medical device, we need to get medical accreditation and that is still pending.
As soon as we get the medical accreditation, we then can start production, and start delivering the product. It’s been an extremely expensive exercise and most of the time, we are screaming money. We have funding round open and seeking investors so that we can finalize the final bit then we can start delivering solutions to customers, initially, for those developing countries who are lacking adequate equipment there.
Are you looking to be bought out by a big bigger company? As a serial entrepreneur, do you have other future companies in mind or is this your lifelong project?
That’s difficult to say. I cannot say more. I’ll see what will happen. There is a likelihood that someone will acquire us. We’ve been invited to IPO already, but I don’t think we necessarily want to do that at this stage. We are not ready to become public. It’s difficult to say where we are in a couple of years. Investors, especially venture capitals, are looking for an exit. I cannot say where we may be in a couple of years, but we hope that we can help millions of people with our technology.
It’s amazing what you’ve been able to accomplish. It drives me crazy as a parent when you can’t tell what your kids are feeling. How much pain, what they’re trying to tell you. Do this work on animals?
This is a common question.
I’m looking at my puppy and wondering if she’s in pain.
Hopefully, someday we can do some experiments with animals. It’s not our focus and we are a small company. We cannot change our focus but it’s going to be interesting. Hopefully, someday it’s going to be possible with our technology but not as of yet.
I was thinking of that movie where they put that sensor on the dog, and you could tell what they were thinking. They kept thinking squirrel. Apparently, squirrel was the big thing. This is amazing what you’re working on. It was so nice that you got to introduce us. What you’re working on is so important, and I admire all your background. I was looking at many companies and things that you’ve done, and I was looking forward to this. A lot of people will want to know how to find out more about Kipuwex and follow you or whatever. Is there some site or something you’d like to share?
A good starting point is our homepage, www.Kipuwex.com.
There’s great information there. It’s interesting to watch the YouTube videos and things that you have to show, how this device looks, and how it works. I hope everybody takes the time to check it out. It was so nice to have you on the show, Marko. Thank you for being my guest.
Thank you, Diane. This was my pleasure.
It was fun.
I’d like to thank Jeff and Marko for being my guests. We get so many great guests on this show. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
- Erik Weihenmayer – Previous episode
- Bleich Centre
- Radius AI
- Jeff Bleich
- LinkedIn – Jeff Bleich
- YouTube videos – Kipuwex channel
About Jeff Bleich
Jeff Bleich is the Chief Legal Officer at Cruise, leading the legal and compliance teams. He previously served as a special master in the U.S. District Court, and as a partner at both Munger, Tolles & Olson and Dentons. He has over three decades of experience in resolving complex domestic and international disputes. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, and as Special Counsel to President Obama in the White House. For his federal service, Ambassador Bleich received numerous awards, including the Sue Cobb Medal, the State Department’s highest award for a non-career ambassador.
About Marko Höynälä
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