Chennai girl makes it to Forbes '30 under 30’ list with de-addiction tool

17 Nov 2017


Akshaya Shanmugam, 29, the CEO of Chennai-based start-up Lumme Inc, is among the innovators and entrepreneurs in the latest Forbes '30 under 30' list in the field of healthcare.

Lumme Inc uses a combination of wearable technology, machine learning and behavioural psychology to crack the code of addictive behaviour, says the 2018 edition of Forbes `30 under 30'.

According to Shanmugam, the platform uses a smartwatch to passively monitor smoking behaviour and other factors like the time of the day, their movements and social interactions of the person concerned. It then makes an assessment of the smoking patterns of the person and predicts when he or she is likely to smoke next. Based on the prediction, the platform is able to send an alert 6 minutes before they are about to light a cigarette.

"Our platform automatically detects addictive behaviour, predicts indulgence in addictive behaviour, and prevents it by delivering clinically validated interventions. It also helps individuals gain better insights into their daily life and helps them understand the why, how, and what surrounding their lifestyle choices," says Shanmugam.

"We have had two national scale clinical trials and are in the midst of the third. With the first two, we were able to make predictions with95 per cent accuracy," she said.

The technology is in the process of being clinically validated and Shanmugam hopes to launch the product in the market by the summer of 2018. "The first phase of our launch is the smoking cessation platform. We will tie up with corporates so they can include this as part of their employee wellness programmes," she said.

The idea of creating a digital platform de-addiction struck Shanmugam while she was pursuing her PhD in an area that involved developing health monitoring systems outside hospitals. She met Abhinav Parate who was working on a thesis with wearables. With Parate and a few professors, Shanmugam set up Lumme to solve the global addiction problem.

The project is the outcome of research conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Yale School of Medicine. Lumme is funded by the National Institutes of Health and has raised $1.7 million in funding.

"It is quite an honour to be part of this list. It is a validation that there is potential in the technology that we have developed. This only drives us further to make meaningful contributions to the field of healthcare," said Shanmugam.

Shanmugam had her schooling at Chettinad Vidyashram, after which she pursued engineering at Meenakshi Sundararajan Engineering College before moving to the US for higher studies in 2009.

This is the second time in a row that a Chennai native is appearing in the Forbes '30 under 30' in the healthcare area after 27-year-old Vivek Kopparthi made it to the 2017 list for his contributions in neonatal care technology in January this year.

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