Place both the thumbs on the glass slots and just wait for the readings on the mobile app,” says Rahul Rastogi, demonstrating the credit-card sized device Sanket. In 15 minutes, the phone displays crests and troughs on a red graph — the ECG, thankfully, is normal. “We have been found to be 98% accurate when tested against digital ECG machines,” he says.
Sanket 1.0 as Rastogi calls it doesn’t stop at producing an ECG. It also calculates stress levels. “In the next version, you will be able to send it to our doctor for a quick review. We will also be able to predict diseases by observing user patterns, and caution users about 17 diseases,” says the co-founder of Agatsa Software, which has developed the device.
There is little doubt that heart disease is on the rise in India. But it was his father’s own heart condition that prompted Rastogi to build Sanket. Diagnosed with a heart condition in 2012, he couldn’t be operated on because he was diabetic. “Someone had to be around him all the time,” recalls Rastogi.
Ideally, a patient with a possible heart issue should get an ECG done in an hour. “That’s the golden window but in India it takes 6-8 hours. About 4 crore people die each year because they don’t reach the hospital,” he says. When Rastogi and his wife looked for a solution that could detect heart trouble in time, that’s what they experienced. “We couldn’t find any device that produced ECG in time and conveniently,” says Neha Rastogi, co-founder, Agatsa. Even in hospitals, the process is cumbersome. Moreover, she adds, 70% Indians live in rural areas, away from diagnostic centres or hospitals.
That’s when the couple, both engineers from Aligarh Muslim University, decided to build Sanket by putting their experience across companies such as LG, Samsung, Hewitt and CSC India to use. But the challenge was to bring down the cost. A conventional digital ECG machine costs anywhere between Rs.40,000 and Rs.200,000. Sanket, on the other hand, is priced at Rs.9,999. “Conventional machines are hardware heavy. The innovation on our part was that we were able to transfer the intelligence built in the hardware to the software. For