Tampa startup partners with Johns Hopkins professor
A startup that’s created a smartphone app that detects person’s emotional status is partnering with a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s biomedical AI lab in Balitmore.
Sensie, a Miami-founded startup that moved to Embarc Collective in Tampa, is working with Dr. Joshua Vogelstein, an associate professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which will enable Sensie’s smartphone emotional artificial intelligence sensing abilities to expand.
Sensie utilizes the sensors in a smartphone to measure a person’s emotional state and the resilience of their nervous system through a series of interactive tests and questions, such as instructing the user to whip the phone in certain directions to measure the muscle tension, explained Mike Dannheim, CEO of Sensie.
He co-founded the business in 2016 with Thomas Gersten, who worked at Microsoft as an engineer and program manager and first met Dannheim in 2013.
Sensie can identify if a person is feeling frustrated, nervous, depressed or other emotions within five minutes, as muscle tension is a reflex reaction to stress.
The app then proposes a number of solutions that can help ease a person’s emotional state.
The company is bootstrapped and has raised funds from angel investors, totaling over $600,000. Sensie is now raising a $5 million seed round.
“We’ve done a lot of research in the past few years, and now we are just starting to commercialize,” Dannheim said.
In the future, Sensie will license its motion-based algorithms to other health and wellness applications to provide emotional insights, in-app personalization and engagement in ways that currently are not possible, Dannheim said.
Sensie also has a clinical pilot trial with the Mayo Clinic.
Prior to launching Sensie, Dannheim lived in India, working for Groupon as vice president of international business development, and was offered the opportunity to become the CEO of Groupon in India; however, he declined it. Shortly after, he left to go back to the U.S. and was managing an investment firm. He joined a Y Combinator-backed tech startup called Grouper Social Club.
“Grouper had some of the smartest people. It was a big success – we had hundreds of thousands of users, skyrocketing growth and yet we failed,” Dannheim said. “I couldn’t understand why we failed, and when I reflected on it, I saw we were always talking about culture, which I didn’t understand at the time because it is something that’s intangible. I discovered it is simply how you show up in the face of adversity, and how you relate to yourself and others when stressed.”
That pivotal moment is what inspired Dannheim to establish Sensie with Gersten.
Dannheim was a presenter at the annual Disrupt the Bay event, held earlier this month, and plans to attend future tech events.