Ovuline launches app to chart course of what to expect when you’re expecting

Trying to get pregnant? There’s an app for that. Already pregnant? There’s an app for that too. 

Both are made by Cambridge fertility tracking company Ovuline. The company launches its latest product on Thursday, a new app that hopes to make a splash in the sea of prenatal care apps by helping mothers track their progress through the nine month journey.

The app, Ovia, sets itself apart from the competition by allowing women to interact with their unique pregnancy where others merely offer a deluge of the same information regardless of individual circumstances.

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“If you and I are pregnant we’re going to be told the exact same thing on the exact same day,” founder and CEO Paris Wallace said.

That Wallace and I are both male is beside the point. The experience with Ovia is tailored.

“If you sign up and I sign up your experience will be radically different than mine,” Wallace said.

Ovia is unique in the pool of candidates because it asks for users feedback throughout their term, analyzes the data, and explains to women what to expect, gives recommendations and alerts, or allows them to compare against the experiences of other Ovia users.

The interaction is Ovia’s main selling point.

“No one wants to be fed information; they want to interact. It’s our nature,” said Dr. Adam Wolfberg of Boston Fetal Maternal Medicine.

But beyond avoiding drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes there is very little a woman can do to alter the outcome of her pregnancy, he said.

“It can be very frustrating,” said Wolfberg. “[Ovia] gives women a way to engage in their prenatal care and monitor their day to day activities in a way that’s gratifying and hopefully improves the outcome,” Wolfberg said.

Wolfberg specializes in caring for pregnant women who are experiencing some sort of complexity and is among a host of medical advisors that has helped Ovia become the product that will launch in the Appstore and online on Thursday.

With their help Wallace and Ovuline have created a piece of software with a slick user interface that tracks weight, sleep, activity, nutrition, moods, symptoms, medication, blood pressure, contraction, and kicks. The collected data allows women to compare what they are experiencing with what others have experienced in the past.

“We’re most proud of the timeline feature,” Wallace said.

He opens the app and scrolls to the 33rd week of a simulated pregnancy and reports through the app that the number of kicks per two hours decreased from the last check in. Immediately a health alert pops up on the timeline notifying the user that they should consult their doctor.

“At the average doctor’s appointment they weigh you, check your blood pressure and ask you how you feel,” Wallace said.

“That’s something we can do,” he said noting that Ovia is not comprehensive nor diagnostic but a major improvement for women who often wish they got to see their doctor more often and want an answer to the most common question, “Am I having a normal pregnancy?”

In its beta test of approximately 5,000 users, the app has already helped mothers-to-be catch symptoms of preeclampsia a condition affecting between six and eight percent of pregnancies, characterized by low blood pressure, which left untreated can lead to life threatening seizures during pregnancy.

To simplify user input the application links with health monitoring products from Fitbit and Withings to monitor and automatically input sleep, activity, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, fat composition, and calories.

In addition to monitoring health the application serves as a journal helping users mark milestones throughout the term.

“I never thought I’d have a career in women’s health,” said Wallace, a self proclaimed feminist and graduate of Harvard Business School.

Wallace’s team sits on the sixth floor of 1 Cambridge Center at the TechStars lab and consists of mostly women. It’s another distinction Wallace makes between Ovia and other prenatal care apps with all male development teams.

“They just do not get it,” Wallace said.

To date the company had raised slightly more than $2.75 million from investors like Lightbank, the capital behind Groupon; and local names Launch Capital, TechStars’ David Cohen, and Lion Bird.

While Wallace will have to wait and see how the launch of Ovia pans out, the fertility side of his company grows by a million user generated data points every two and a half days, he said.

”Our company right now is undergoing the largest pregnancy study in the history of the world,” Wallace said.

A belated study at that.

”Due date has been calculated the same way for the past hundred years,” Wallace said. “You’re telling me we can’t do better than that?”