Ablacon, a Wheat Ridge, Colorado-based provider of AI-guided atrial fibrillation therapies, today announced it has raised $21.5 million in a series A round led by Ajax Health that Ablacon says will be used to advance its technology pipeline and finance clinical trials. The startup also revealed that Duke Rohlen, a veteran of Epix Therapeutics, Spirox, CV Ingenuity, and FoxHollow Technologies, has been appointed chair and CEO.

“Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart arrhythmia in the world. Around 30 million people are predicted to be affected by 2060 in the U.S. and in Europe,” CTO Dr. Philip Haeusser said. “Ablacon builds a real-time high-precision diagnosis system for atrial fibrillation.”

Ablacon’s technology, which it calls Electrographic Flow, uses AI and machine learning to analyze and visualize the flow of action potentials within the heart to “quantitatively” and “qualitatively” detect signs of atrial fibrillation, which is caused by poor blood flow and can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as stroke and heart attack. It builds a map that can be used by physicians to guide them in catheter ablation therapy, a procedure used to remove faulty electrical pathways from sections of the heart.

Ablacon hasn’t obtained clinical approval for its product, but it received a CE Mark last year, indicating that it meets the European Union Directive’s standards for medical devices. In any case, the company is entering a crowded AI for health care hardware market that’s forecasted to be worth $36.1 billion by 2025.

Butterfly in September 2018 raised a whopping $250 million for its portable full-body ultrasound scanner, which ships with an AI-powered mobile app that detects the probe’s location in real time from camera footage. Meanwhile, Sight Diagnostics, which claims its computer vision system can perform “lab-grade” blood count tests with no more than a pinprick of blood, nabbed $27.8 million in venture capital earlier this year. And work is underway to deploy Corti, an AI system that detects heart attacks during emergency phone calls, in some of the biggest cities in Europe.

Notably, several models of Apple Watch screen for heart rhythm irregularities that appear to be atrial fibrillation, as does AliveCor’s KardiaBand.

“The Ablacon system is a very promising innovation in atrial fibrillation mapping,” said Dr. Vivek Reddy, a Helmsley Trust professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “The early clinical experience indicates the tremendous promise of this technology to improve our ability to treat this challenging disease.”

Ablacon has offices in Lausanne, Switzerland; Denver, Colorado; and Munich, Germany.

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