U of Illinois business student develops pocket-sized device for health tracking

In 2016, Chang Hun Lee — a senior at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — founded an innovative startup that helps people monitor their health, all using a pocket-sized device.

Five things to know:

1. The startup, OneSoftDigm, markets a product called OneSmartdiet — a device the size of a flash drive that uses bioelectrical impedance analysis, as well as infrared and photoplethysmographic sensors, to measure health and wellness data such as body fat, skeletal muscle mass, basal metabolic rate, body mass index, body water content, heart rate, body temperature, stress index, calorie intake and daily activity.

2. Mr. Lee hopes the data, which can be monitored through an iOS or Android smartphone app, will help users be proactive about their health. Armed with this information, users can track their progress and share their data with healthcare providers.

"A lot of people don't receive their important health information until they're sitting at a clinic, and it's too late," Mr. Lee said in an article for the Gies College of Business. "What I discovered is that too many people rely on their BMI or step counters like wearable devices. These are the wrong indicators of a person's true health."

3. Mr. Lee has been granted 10 patents for the technology, and his startup is valued at $5.5 million.OneSmartdiet isn't sold in stores in the U.S. yet, but it is available in retail stores in Europe and the Middle East. To date, OneSoftDigm has sold an estimated 15,000 units of the device, totalling $1.5 million in sales.

4. Mr. Lee has traveled around the world to promote the device, participating in conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show and the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition. He was awarded $10,000 at the GITEX Dubai Expo in 2018 after winning first place in a competition among 200 startups, and the device has been accepted into Target's Open House, a San Francisco-based space to demo smart-home products.

5. Launching OneSoftDigm has taught Mr. Lee the importance of not only having a strong product, but also strong business and networking skills. He moved to Silicon Valley to pitch the OneSmartdiet device after his sophomore year of college, but the product was rejected by investors 49 times. The 50th investor he pitched to contributed $50,000, which helped get the business off the ground.

"When I went to Silicon Valley, I thought it was all about good technology," Mr. Lee said. "There was much more networking than I realized. I decided I needed to earn my degree, represent Gies College of Business proudly, and hopefully, down the road, I can be a resource for other Illinois students and help pave the way for them."

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