Richard Barnes

Richard Barnes

Midlands tech firm to introduce BMI alternative

Say goodbye to BMI – a Midlands tech company has launched a revolutionary 3D iPad app for health, fitness and wellness professionals that measures body fat with greater precision.

A Worcestershire-based body imaging technology company has created an iPad app that could spell an end to reliance on the approximation of a person’s body size known as Body Mass Index (BMI).

Select Research, based in Malvern and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme delivered by Aston University, has launched BVI Pro – an iPad app which uses a recently-developed measure of body composition and weight distribution known as the Body Volume Indicator (BVI).

Following 10 years of rigorous research by Mayo Clinic in the US, BVI is set to transform how we assess whether we are a healthy weight by comparing total body volume to the volume of the abdomen – which can be measured accurately with Select Research’s new app. The aim is to provide an easily accessible and affordable means for the professional community to use the new BVI measurement in everyday clinical use.

Select Research reached out to Aston University and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme after the radical shift in their business plans and the potential for growth became apparent. The knowledge gained from the programme helped the firm refocus its priorities and led to them setting up a US subsidiary called BVI America. The BVI Pro app, which utilises Select Research’s patented 3D imaging software, is now available for healthcare professionals to download from iTunes in the US and will be available on iTunes in the UK from June.

Richard Barnes, CEO and founder of Select Research and the inventor of BVI Pro, said: “I enrolled onto the 10,000 Small Businesses programme in March 2013, it was shortly after we had been awarded the patent for BVI.

“Given the breadth and scope of the 'Health Indicator' patent, I knew that the business needed re-structuring to help realise the potential of this opportunity. The programme certainly helped me to view the business differently and focus on BVI, and the launch of the BVI Pro app in May 2017 has been helped by decisions I made after taking part.”

Now that professionals in the medical, clinical and fitness fields have access to the app, BVI Pro can make estimates of body volume, percentage of visceral fat and distribution of body fat for patients and clients in less than a minute. The app also allows you to keep detailed records of patient measurements to monitor results over time.

Aston University scientists were also involved in developing the software. Prof Ian Nabney, executive dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, worked with Select Research to develop the initial algorithms and equations necessary for the app to measure body composition.

Discussing the technology itself, Richard added: “The idea for BVI was born out of the realisation that using external measurements was just one piece of the puzzle and rather than just accepting this as the standard, we needed to measure internal factors as well.

“Thanks to the support from Mayo Clinic and our other global collaborators, BVI – delivered through the BVI Pro app – can now help effectively identify and manage health risks, based upon a person’s weight distribution, in a cost-effective way, providing something of real value for the professional community in the US, and eventually globally.”