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If dogs can smell cancer... why can't we?

Designed after a dog's olfactory system and olfactory neurones, The Blue Box is an AI-powered biomedical for in-home BREAST CANCER testing.

$3,695
pledged of$55,000 goal
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Campaign Ends on December 5, 2021

Project Description

Hello :)

Ever heard of dogs being able to smell cancer?...

Designed after a dog's olfactory system and olfactory neurons, The Blue Box is an AI-powered _medical device_ for pain-free, non-irradiating, low-cost, in-home _breast cancer testing_ – just by introducing a urine sample in a box! Our AI-based algorithm reacts to specific urine metabolites and outputs a _classification rate of >95%._

The Blue Box is a 3D-printed box that contains 8 _chemical sensors_ that are specifically sensitive to some breast cancer biomarkers – i.e. some molecules whose presence or absence in one's physiology is correlated to the condition of breast cancer. When a urine sample is introduced inside The Blue Box, the aforementioned sensors “read” the sample for 30 minutes, and then send the reading to the user’s phone via _Bluetooth_. The Blue App will then send it to the cloud via WiFi, where our _artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm_ is allocated. Once AI reaches a diagnostic, it will be sent back to the user's phone and displayed in the app.

 

Women deserve a better solution

During my undergrad years, I came across a study by the CDC reporting almost _40% of women skipping their mammogram_ screening (41% due to pain), potentially resulting in 1/3 cancers detected too late, and thus worse survival chances for women.

This frustration motivated me to discover that _93.55%_ of breast cancers diagnosed by a mammogram are "false alarms" (Catalan Department of Health). Moreover, image-based techniques typically fail to properly identify tumors when used with women with fibrocystic breasts (breast tissue with healthy lumps). Shockingly, around 60% of women worldwide do currently have fibrocystic breasts.

Finally, although a single radiation dose is not harmful, yearly exposure to a mammogram increases breast cancer risk itself. In fact, in 2017, the World Health Organization published the "WHO Position paper on mammography screening" stating that there is an urgent and tangible _need for a better solution_ for breast cancer screening.

Consequently, there exists a need for a pain-free, accurate, non-irradiating, low-cost, in-home breast cancer test.

 

The science behind the box

As early as Roman times, medicine has paid special attention to human physiological metabolites, e.g. uncontrolled diabetes was historically diagnosed by a sweet taste in urine, liver failure produced a fish-like smell... However, human metabolic studies did not meet the oncology field until April 1989 when Dr. Hywel Williams and Dr. Andres Pembroke from King’s College Hospital, London reported a case in The Lancet about a Collie-Doberman who was constantly smelling a mole in its owner's leg. The mole was then shown to be cancerous, saving the patient’s life. This event proved that cancer causes metabolic changes, thus altering the body's smell.

We have followed a different approach to the challenge. We have studied the _dog's taste buds_ and the sensory neurons they connect to and realized what makes them fire a signal. We then decided that if the dog was able to feel it, so was our Arduino microprocessor. And so we translated the dog’s olfactory system into a _microprocesor and a couple sensors_ and mimicked the dog's olfactory cortex into _an AI-based code_.

 

Our journey

In October 2017 I started testing the viability of such a device during my biomedical engineering bachelor thesis at the _Universitat de Barcelona_. Later on, with the ultimate goal of bringing this solution to all women in the world, I moved to California, which seemed the right place to keep pursuing this dream. At the _University of California Irvine_, I pursued the master of Embedded Cyber-physical Systems, where I met my friend _Billy_, who soon got motivated to bring in his computer science background.

Billy built a secure server where to host our AI-powered algorithm, and designed a connectivity flow so that data can be sent via Bluetooth to the phone and through the internet to the cloud. I designed a convolutional neural network for sample classification and trained it with the data we had previously obtained. The outcome of our master thesis was a classification _accuracy of >95%_.

Our goal for 2022

Our goal for 2022 is to finally bring The Blue Box to hospitals and use it to "read" urine samples from multiple users. If we can _collect at least 1000 urine “readings”_, we will be able to use them to further _train our AI algorithm_. So far, Hospital Universitari Sant Joan, in Reus, and Hospital Universitari de Tarragona Joan XXIII have agreed to join the study. Once collected, we will send the data overseas to the Center for Embedded Cyber-physical Systems at the University of California Irvine (UCI), where I work, and we will take care of AI training and testing.

 

Why are we raising capital?

Inventing, developing and testing a medical device is a process that involves lots of passion, determination, love for your startup… but unfortunately lots of money as well. If you choose to be part of this project by dominating whatever quantity you feel like, we promise to put your funds to good use: We’ll be hiring new team members, affording prototyping materials and seeking the resources, mentorship and advice we need to...

  • Ensure that The Blue Box has a safe and defined path till _marketization_
  • Try to _accelerate_ its commercial launch

 

Some of our previous awards

Sir James Dyson personally chose our startup and as the global winner of the James Dyson Award 2020, a worldwide design and engineering competition.

In 2020 we got accepted into Global Grad Show’s startup accelerator, a programme connecting the world's best academic minds in design, engineering and architecture.

We are currently part of SkyDeck HotDesk startup incubator, at the University of California Berkeley.

In June 2021, we ended up finalists of "The most disruptive technology", at the Advanced Factories awards, Barcelona.

 

The Blue Box in the media

You can also read about us here…

BBC  |  Daily Mail  |  The Guardian  |  Taiwan News  |  ELLE  |  Vogue  |  She does the city, Canada  |  TRT World News  |  Despierta América (Good morning America)  |  Televisión Española (Spanish National TV)  |  Els Matins de TV3 (Catalan National TV)

 

And we have attended some conferences as well...

Bioengineering and MedTtech against cancer'20  |  Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit'21  |  Arduino Day'21

 

Thank you :)

We still have a long journey ahead of us, and we will enjoy every step of the way. Thank you ALL for being here. This is a collective effort 💙

Blue regards, 

- Judit & Billy

 

The Blue Box

When society comes together to CHANGE the way we fight breast cancer.



 

Updates

The Campaign FAQs

Why breast cancer?

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Breast cancer diagnoses in the US have been rising from 226,000 in 2010 until now and are expected to hit 294,000 by 2030, remaining the 4th most diagnosed cancer. The most popular current screening solution is the mammogram, but an ongoing strong debate on its performance -mainly because of its low sensitivity- is leaving an open spot at the market to be filled by a pain-free, low-cost, non-irradiating new approach. 

In fact, in 2017, the World Health Organization published the "WHO Position paper on mammography screening" stating that there is an urgent and tangible need for a new solution for breast cancer screening. In conclusion, there exists a need for a non-invasive, inexpensive, sensitive and in-home breast cancer screening.

 

How did the team meet?

In September 2019, I (Judit) decided to move to California hoping to build the skills I lacked so as to achieve my goal of bringing The Blue Box to every woman in the world. California and its biotech startup ecosystem seemed the right place to start pursuing this dream. I was awarded a scholarship to study the Master of Embedded Cyber-physical Systems at UCI, where I met Billy, my now co-founder. 

As soon as Billy heard about the project, he got motivated to bring in his computer science background and help build a second working prototype (our master thesis). By joining our complementary skills, we embedded an AI algorithm into the previous prototype and designed a connectivity workflow to securely send data from The Blue Box to our cloud server. This resulted in the accuracy of the device rising up to >95%.

 

Why are you uniquely qualified to build your startup?

From a book by Xesco Espar, former Barcelona  football coach, I learned that "a goal cannot get the most out of you if when thinking about it, it doesn’t make you tremble". And this is how the world of research and development makes us feel. We are a creative team who searches until we find and learns along the way. We know how to lose, coping with my frustration by taking two steps back, gaining some perspective and resuming.

Apart from our technical skills, our very different personalities cause us to constantly learn from each other. Now we have turned into friends who not only enjoy working as a team, but are also moved by the same passion: Giving every woman in the world the possibility to prevent a deadly late-stage breast cancer diagnosis.

 

What is your market approach? 

As far as our go-to-market strategy is concerned, we will implement a B2C strategy. Because our offered value highly consists of software, we plan on offering the device at an initial affordable cost and implement a subsequent quarterly subscription to use our continuously-improved AI software. We believe that this approach makes The Blue Box the most accessible to the general public and contributes the most to creating a change in breast cancer detection.



 

08/09/2021
Monetary Contribution
$10
mjbleda
07/19/2021
Hi Blue Fighter!
$50
07/07/2021
Hi Blue Warrior!
$100
Mariona Ruiz-Peris
07/02/2021
Hi Blue Fighter!
$50
Daniel Rodríguez Rodríguez
07/01/2021
Hi Blue Amigo!
$25
Leyre Gutiérrez
06/30/2021
Monetary Contribution
$10
06/29/2021
Hi Blue Fighter!
$50
Laia Gimeno Orti
06/27/2021
Hi Blue Warrior!
$100
Enric Garcia
06/25/2021
Hi Blue Fighter!
$50
Enrique Vilalta Diaz
06/22/2021
Hi Blue Fighter!
$50
Monetary Contribution
Thank you 💙

The Blue Box team is sending you lots of love from Barcelona, Taipei and California :)

2 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Hi Blue Amigo!
So what better way to say “thank you” than to sing it? Don’t worry, I am not gonna come sing a song under your balcony, but you’ll be receiving a note from us with a pretty cool QR code ;).

Thank you.

1 Supporter
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Hi Blue Fighter!
You all are part of it. And we mean it.
We are sending you a T-shirt for you to wear it with pride everywhere you go. 

Thank you.

 
7 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Hi Blue Tester!
It all started as a party of 2 and ended up being a whole crowd...

So we want to bring you in. We want to invite you to an exclusive and international Blue Testers Club: People around the world who hill have access to our next app version before anyone else and will take part in its user-interaction design

Careful! We are planning on bringing AI-based user interaction to a next level... so be ready to see something pretty cool^^ 

Thank you.

 
20 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Hi Blue Boxer!
If you want to do something crazy, at least do it because of something you believe in it, right?

We are doing it because of all women in the world, specially those who don't have access to potentially life-saving breast cancer screening. 

And you? Who are you doing it for? Give us a name. The first every batch of Blue Boxes that reach the market will have this name written on the case. 

Thank you.

19 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
The Game Changer
It all started as a party of 2 and ended up being a whole crowd...

We want to invite you to an exclusive and international User Design Advocates club.

By being part of the club, you will have the opportunity to vote and decide some user and design-related features about The Blue Box. 

How? You will receive photos of prototypes, videos, sketches... and you will be able to vote and express your game-changing opinion.

Thank you.

14 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Hi there Angel!
When The Blue Box finally reaches the market, you will be one of the first people to be notified.

If it is available (subject to medical regulations) in your region, you will have the exclusivity to buy one of the first Blue Boxes ever!

Oh, and if you do, you'll get a one-year-long free subscription :)

You will receive a voucher in your mail soon! Save it and use it in a few years.

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
The Storyteller 📽️
Our story is now your story as well. And stories need to be told!

You can have Judit or Billy deliver a talk, pitch presentation or round table about The Blue Box journey wherever you like! Maybe you are a teacher at a school, maybe you want your workmates to hear about it, but really, anything works :)

If you are not in the region, the talk will be virtual.

Feel free to ask any questions at https://theblueboxai.wixsite.com/hello/contact

10 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward

Rewards

Monetary Contribution
Thank you 💙

The Blue Box team is sending you lots of love from Barcelona, Taipei and California :)

2 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Hi Blue Amigo!
So what better way to say “thank you” than to sing it? Don’t worry, I am not gonna come sing a song under your balcony, but you’ll be receiving a note from us with a pretty cool QR code ;).

Thank you.

1 Supporter
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Hi Blue Fighter!
You all are part of it. And we mean it.
We are sending you a T-shirt for you to wear it with pride everywhere you go. 

Thank you.

 
7 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Hi Blue Tester!
It all started as a party of 2 and ended up being a whole crowd...

So we want to bring you in. We want to invite you to an exclusive and international Blue Testers Club: People around the world who hill have access to our next app version before anyone else and will take part in its user-interaction design

Careful! We are planning on bringing AI-based user interaction to a next level... so be ready to see something pretty cool^^ 

Thank you.

 
20 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Hi Blue Boxer!
If you want to do something crazy, at least do it because of something you believe in it, right?

We are doing it because of all women in the world, specially those who don't have access to potentially life-saving breast cancer screening. 

And you? Who are you doing it for? Give us a name. The first every batch of Blue Boxes that reach the market will have this name written on the case. 

Thank you.

19 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
The Game Changer
It all started as a party of 2 and ended up being a whole crowd...

We want to invite you to an exclusive and international User Design Advocates club.

By being part of the club, you will have the opportunity to vote and decide some user and design-related features about The Blue Box. 

How? You will receive photos of prototypes, videos, sketches... and you will be able to vote and express your game-changing opinion.

Thank you.

14 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Hi there Angel!
When The Blue Box finally reaches the market, you will be one of the first people to be notified.

If it is available (subject to medical regulations) in your region, you will have the exclusivity to buy one of the first Blue Boxes ever!

Oh, and if you do, you'll get a one-year-long free subscription :)

You will receive a voucher in your mail soon! Save it and use it in a few years.

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
The Storyteller 📽️
Our story is now your story as well. And stories need to be told!

You can have Judit or Billy deliver a talk, pitch presentation or round table about The Blue Box journey wherever you like! Maybe you are a teacher at a school, maybe you want your workmates to hear about it, but really, anything works :)

If you are not in the region, the talk will be virtual.

Feel free to ask any questions at https://theblueboxai.wixsite.com/hello/contact

10 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward