COR Science

May 28, 2021

Welcome to COR: it’s time for Lifestyle Science.

A staged photograph of a COR console with a book and plant

Wearables might not be the best future for individual-centered health

These days, it’s rare to go more than a few hours without seeing someone wearing an Apple Watch. As someone who was present at one of the first meetings discussing the beginnings of the Apple Watch in 2010, I find the ubiquity of this trend both understandable, and also a little misled/short-sighted. As humans, we have a natural longing to feel in control of our bodies. Insight into our health equates to a greater sense of agency in our lives. Agency leads to freedom. In short: by understanding ourselves, we feel more equipped to live a better, longer life. But the truth is, wrist-worn devices don’t offer us insight that can inform our health decisions in a meaningful way.

Let me backtrack. I joined Apple in 2008, after cold-emailing Steve Jobs about a cool technology I was working on. Instead of investing in it, Steve decided to acquire my startup and hire me as an Apple Director. During my five years at Apple, I was lucky enough to get in at the ground floor of the ‘wrist-worn product’ that would ultimately evolve into the Apple Watch. These were heady times. We operated mostly in the shadows, completely off the balance sheet. It was a work environment filled with busy people, but because of my direct connection to Jobs, I was able to set essentially any meeting I wanted with people who would actually listen. The result was an enormous amount of learnings, some superb collaborations, and the ability to get a lot done in a short period of time.

However, during my time at Apple, I also began to suspect that wearables might not be the best future for individual-centered health. When I left in 2013, I was once again looking to push the envelope. I found myself asking the classic entrepreneur question: what next?

Society's current relationship to blood is all wrong, making us complacent about the lack of speed, precision, and convenience of looking at blood for lifestyle decision-making

I started COR with the belief that information obtained via wearables is far less valuable than what can be learned from even the smallest amount of blood. This is nothing new to the medical world. 60-80% of clinical decisions are made based on blood data. The problem is that society’s current relationship to blood is all wrong. Both the medical establishment and the general population associate blood with disease and diagnosis, rather than healthy lifestyle and insight.

If we look at the history of blood data, this makes sense. The field of lab medicine grew up around responding to problems. Blood is treated as this mysterious inner substance that we ignore as long as it’s working, and only check when something goes drastically wrong. The result is a whole system that’s incompatible with society’s growing demand to be informed and empowered in our lifestyle decision.

Here’s how the system currently works. Blood samples are taken when a problem is perceived. These tests are shipped to central laboratories, where the blood is assayed for 2,000-4,000 extremely low concentration biomarkers. These tests need a quick turnaround, but not that quick. They need to be relatively accurate, but not that accurate. In fact, most lab results have error bands of ±20-30%. When you are diagnosing disease, that’s a fine margin for error; the medically allowable error is just how far off you can be in a lab result without it resulting in the wrong treatment decision.

But what if you want analysis of your blood not because you are looking for a diagnosis, but because you want to understand how choices around nutrition and fitness impact you? Lab medicine isn’t built to achieve this. It’s not fast enough, it’s not precise enough, and it’s not easy enough.

As these thoughts began to take shape, I realized that I would need to start at the ground level and build up from there. I knew that lab blood data wasn’t good enough for what I wanted to create, and mail-in tests were not either. I needed to build an instrument with extremely high precision and low cost per use, that could be put in the homes (and later the pockets) of folks looking to understand nutrition and fitness at a deep level through subtle pattern changes. I wanted to create something attuned to small, daily changes, and built to integrate seamlessly into our already-full lives.

Fast forward to 2021 and all of our hard work has paid off. Recently, a key opinion leader in personal nutrition and fitness recited back to me almost verbatim our value proposition:

Frequent testing could build a library to correlate healthy behaviors with subtle blood chemistry changes but I don’t know if this information exists yet so this becomes a very interesting but potentially cumbersome science experiment.

I am proud to say that COR is ready to meet that challenge!

Bob Messerschmidt, Founder and CEO