Tech Startups See Untapped Opportunity in Affordable Aging Solutions

Two relative newcomers to the senior care tech market are taking a similar approach in introducing products meant to provide a lower-cost method for aging in place. They’re looking to make waves in what they see as a yet-untapped portion of the market for aging tech.

Both Lively and Tempo by CarePredict are banking on competing with established companies in the remote monitoring space by offering a more basic product up to four times cheaper for consumers on a monthly basis.

Lively

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Lively launched last September and recently kicked off a pilot program with PEP Housing, an affordable senior housing provider based in Petaluma, California, along with a handful of other similar pilots that haven’t yet been publicly announced.

“We wanted to make this technology accessible by a much more mainstream user. Pairing with PEP Housing is a perfect match, and the product pricing is very, very important,” says Megan Prentiss, director of marketing at Lively.

Installing Lively costs users a one-time fee of $149, followed by a monthly $19.95 charge, compared to other monitoring solutions that are often more comprehensive but cost anywhere from $60 to $100 a month along with a higher up-front installation fee.

“We looked at this market, and it was lacking an affordable, highly-usable customer experience,” says Prentiss. “We wanted to plug in connecting older adults not just with caregivers, but also with families, and strengthen that connection.”

While some monitoring systems require Internet access, Lively operators through a cellular hub, which Iggy Fanlo, co-founder and CEO of Lively, says is a critical feature for the older adult crowd, and especially in the low-income demographic.

“Elders just need to be on the grid, with electricity and a mailbox. They don’t need the internet or a computer,” Fanlo says. “Through our research, we saw that elders were fiercely independent and wanted to stay in their homes, but also generally felt very isolated from their families.”

Sensors placed throughout the house gather information on activities such as medication compliance, food and drink consumption patterns, bathroom trips, and exiting the home. That information is used to generate reports that can be accessed via a web application, smartphone, or tablet.

The interface for families is simple, says Fanlo: they see color-coded smiley faces that are red, yellow, or green depending on their loved one’s condition. The family can get alerts or notifications whenever there’s a change from one color to another and take appropriate action form there.

There’s also a social component that allows family members and other loved ones to upload content, messages, and photographs from their phones or computers onto a platform that the Lively team then curates into a “LivelyGram,” a 6-8 page photo booklet which seniors receive in the mail twice a month.

This will be PEP House’s first such pilot program, according to Gary “Buzz” Hermes, in charge of Community Partnerships for the affordable housing provider. So far, nine people have signed up for the pilot, which began on January 24.

“We’re trying to find a way to keep our residents safe—they’re all very low-income, and assisted living is not an option for them,” he says. “We’re definitely excited [about Lively]. It’s the direction PEP Housing wants to move in, to find ways to use technology to keep our residents safe and make sure they get their health needs addressed in a timely fashion.”

Tempo by CarePredict

Another newcomer to the remote monitoring space has a similar pitch of affordability, with an added twist of tracking more than one person’s activity—and with context.

Tempo by CarePredict was created by inventor Satish Movva, who says the idea stemmed from weekly visits with his 85-year-old father and 75-year-old mother. Movva says he began noticing gradual declines in their health from visit to visit that his parents often did not notice about themselves.

“It struck me that if I knew about these things as they were happening, I could react better,” he says. “A person’s behavior and activity patterns, if you look at them holistically—everyone has a routine or rhythm in life. If you can find a discordant note, you can figure out that something is off.”

Despite the existence of other activity trackers like Fitbit or motion sensor platforms, Movva wanted to add a layer of context with his product and add the ability to track more than one person at once by instrumenting both the living space and the person. Tempo tracks location within the home and provides context awareness.

“I can tell that Dad walked from the bedroom to the bathroom in 10 seconds today, but he did the same walk yesterday in 5 seconds. It’s comparing apples to apples, and you can build big data around that by looking at behaviors over a period of time and establishing a baseline, and then monitor variations from that,” he says.

Small sensors—Movva says they’re about the size of two AA batteries—are placed around the home, paired with a wearable device that clips into either a specially-designed wristband or a bracelet. The price point is $199 for the self-installable kit and then $14.99 to $39.99 a month depending on whether or not the senior has a wireless connection or the system needs to use a cellular connection.

Information is stored in an online database that provides continuous trend analysis and can be accessed via a web portal or smartphone app, with alerts sent out via email, text, or push notifications to a smart device.

“Any number of people can be wearing these sensors, walking around, and [Tempo can] identify what rooms they’re in,” Movva says. “Group living facilities are very interested in seeing behavior patterns and activity patterns of residents, and this is much more precise than the way they’ve been trying to do it with ambient monitoring or cameras.”

Right now, Tempo (which is still in pre-order stages) is staying away from clinical measurements and emergency alerts but could branch into other features in the future.

“We have the capability to detect falls but it requires a lot more thought before we make it a prime feature of the product,” says Movva. “It’s definitely something we could do; it’s really a platform product we’re building.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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