Case Study: Kaya Life

Diabetic Monitoring Made Easy (2013)

Kaya Life is an ecosystem is a series of products designed to help individuals with diabetes live their lives easier and with less pain. This ecosystem offers a prickless, bloodless way to measure glucose and ketone levels.

The Preface

As part of TYE Vancouver, high school students in grade 11 and 12 learn about the challenges and rewards of becoming an entrepreneur from seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors. Students work in groups and work together to create a business concept that solves real world problems.


The Group

My group, Care 4 Mankind, comprised of my siblings and I. Though we are siblings, we each have our own special talents. Moreover, we have experience in developing apps, particularly for iOS devices, and have published over 40 apps to the App Store and 7 to Google Play. The team has a love for entrepreneurship and, with Care 4 Mankind, we will work on helping people around the world lead happier and healthier lives.


My Role

USER EXPERIENCE
I led the design of the Kaya Life app and website. I uncovered insights on what it’s like to live with diabetes, address their pain-points, and turned concepts into features that will address user behaviours and motivations.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
I worked closely with my team to ideate different solutions and create each component of the Kaya Life ecosystem and determine how it would all work together to help diabetics manage their health.


The User

We interviewed diabetics dealing with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. These interviews were done via email, FaceTime, and/or in-person. To demonstrate to our stakeholders what a typical day as a diabetic is like, we created this short clip A Day in the Life of a Diabetic.

Original footage courtesy of Rebecca Smith, one of our interviewees, and she oh-so-kindly let us use and modify her footage to create this video for our stakeholders.

Meet Rebecca
Rebecca draws out her blood after she goes to sleep, before and after every meal, and before she goes to sleep. She carries around a book filled with information on the calories of the foods she will eat, so she can then calculate the insulin she will later inject herself with.


The Problem

There are two common options diabetics use to monitor their stats, the blood glucose monitoring system and the continuing glucose monitoring system.

Blood Glucose Monitoring System

First, there is a blood glucose monitoring system, or prick and monitor, which is what Rebecca uses as well as the majority of the market. With this system, users have to draw out their blood with per use strips. Not only is this very painful, but this also causes scarring on the tips of your fingers. Can you just imagine having to prick yourself as much as seven times a day?

Continuous Glucose Monitoring System

The second option is the continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM). Current CGM’s require uses to awkwardly stick a sensor on your abdomen and monitoring on your waist throughout the entire day. These devices are very visible and uncomfortable, and they also cause bruising.


The Solution

We recognized the need for a solution for monitoring diabetic health and are passionate about making it a reality. We came up with a unique, comprehensive, and innovate solution. Our Kaya Life ecosystem comprises of a sensor, wristband, app and website.

Sensor
The sensor measures glucose and ketone levels thru sweat. It’s half the size of a postage stamp, it bends with your skin and looks and feels like a temporary tattoo.

Wristband
The wristband receives the data from the sensor and is equipped with an LED light display to show users their current stats. By using hypo-allergenic medical grade silicon, we reduce the number of skin sensitivity issues.

App & Website
I created the user interface and crafted the user experience for users of the app. All the information from the sensor and wristband can be viewed on the user’s KayaApp smartphone application.

The application automatically logs in and graphs glucose and ketone levels, has a built in food guide, tells the how much insulin they may need, warns users of unstable health via push notifications, and allows users to share their health information with doctors and/or caregivers.

Our final component of the Kaya Life ecosystem is the website. The site is an extension of the information available on the app. This information can also be sent to the user’s doctor’s and/or caregivers.

The Solution: App Features

Tracker

The front page of the app, the tracker tab, will show the user’s current stats and trends as well as their historical data. This takes away the need for people with diabetes to manually log glucose and ketone levels.

Food Guide

We included a food guide in our app to eliminate the need for diabetics like Rebecca to carry around and flip through a bulky book of foods to see what they can or can’t eat. Our food guide constantly updates and is not only a guide but also a log so users can see the previous meals they’ve had and the effect it had in their vital signs.

Kammunity

In our Kammunity (Kaya + Community), we bring diabetics together so they can make friends, support one another, and have discussions in the forums.

Gamification

We added gamification to make our app more fun and user-friendly. Users can set goals and when they acheive them, they receive virtual badges. Users can also receive virtual badges by eating healthy, exercising a lot, and being active in our Kammunity.

Push Notifications

We feel the most important part of our app is the push notification feature. Our app will notify the users if their stats are getting too high or too low so they can take action, immediately.


The Market

There are 371 million diabetics worldwide. We’re targeting 11% of them. We know that these 41 million people are between the ages of 15–55, and they have smartphones. Our market is ever-growing thanks to the increasing number of smartphones, as well as an unfortunate 3% increase of diagnosed diabetics each year.


The Impact

My team presented Kaya Life to an esteemed panel of venture capitalists, bankers, and business leaders and won the TYE Vancouver Venture Challenge in 2013. We were then flown to Washington D.C. to present our ideas to venture capitalists on a global stage, and competed against hundreds of students from 17 cities around the world, and won the TYE Global Business Plan Competition in May 2013.

In 2014, Richmond Review’s 30 Under 30 list featured our team and project.


Reflections

Our idea was to redefine the diabetic experience and we did just that. The inspiration behind Kaya Life came from our grandfather, who was a remarkable person and a successful entrepreneur. Unfortunately, most of his life was plagued by a chronic disease, he had diabetes. The Kaya Life concept is an innovative, affordable and painless solution to glucose monitoring.

I’m so proud of the work that became Kaya Life, through this experience as part of TYE Vancouver, I learned that with science, technology, and innovation, we have the ability to improve the lives of millions and millions of people and truly make an impact on the world.


Words & images by Michelle and the team

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