The Silicon Review
Old age is a sensitive phase in life. Elderly persons’ minds and bodies don’t function the same way as they used to, creating a worrying and confusing time for them and their loved ones. For this and for many other reasons, proper geriatric care is important. Sensorscall has developed a device night light, “CareAlert,” that plugs into a wall socket. The company recommends one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom, and another in the kitchen and living room. Each unit has ten sensors but no cameras and does listen to the conversation. They gather information about the events in their surroundings and feed them to the onboard and cloud AI engine using Machine learning. Over a day or two, the units learn the habits of the seniors, such as bedtime, the time they get up, hygiene, kitchen habits, etc. If anything unusual happens, CareAlert alerts the caregivers on their phone. It does all this without cameras or wearables. Further, the AI engine in the cloud looks at the trends to detect possible ailments such as depression, loneliness, etc.
The “CareAlert” was designed keeping in mind that senior citizens living on their own is a difficult thing to manage and is also a concern for their near and dear ones at the same time; they should be equipped to live on their own and enjoy their own space without compromises. When the TSR interviewed CEO and Founder of Sensorscall Fereydoun Taslimi and asked him the motivation behind starting the company, he said “A few years ago, I saw the agony my wife Lili was going through looking after her 81 year old mom, who lives a few miles from our house. Her mom is independent, drives, and lives alone. She would call her every night to ensure she is back home safely from shopping or walking. But frequently she would not answer her phone for various reasons such as either her cell phone was out of charge, or she had not hung up on the landline. All my wife wanted to know was if her mom was up and about and ok. To bring peace of mind to my wife, I installed a couple of cameras; however, that did not go well for obvious reasons, as it violated her privacy and dignity. Soon it became clear that this is a common problem for most people. With the increasing number of aging parents, particularly those living alone and far from their children, it has become a significant source of concern for adult children. We heard many have the same problem of not being able to get hold of their parents and worried if they are taking their medications and following the Doctors’ instructions. That is how CareAlert was born.” Furthermore he told us how the CareAlert is helpful for elderly folk who are differently abled or suffer from memory loss, he says “CareAlert has a voice reminder feature that relies on the caregiver’s voice. For example, it can be programmed to deliver a message at lunchtime when the senior enters the kitchen with messages such as medications or other reminders. Similarly, a message can be played regarding hygiene or other tasks in the bathroom. To help us with future applications, we have created a very robust over the Air software update. As we get feedback from users, we can add features, and we hope to use feedback from memory care facilities to add features that would be helpful.”
Challenges in the way forward
Though the “CareAlert” is an innovative product that transforms the lives of the elderly and their families, it is not without its own challenges. There are apprehensions about the data collected and also on the efficacy of algorithms used by “CareAlert”. Fereydoun Taslimi answers our questions about these concerns and puts it to rest. He says, “All data is de-identified and kept for a minimum amount of time. We plan to analyze as much of the data using on the edge ML as possible and use local storage on the user’s device instead of sending anything to the cloud. This gives the user far more security than having any data offsite.” Further, about the algorithms, he says “I know this type of failure will always loom over us, however, if you look at what is happening with flying a plane, we can clearly see technology has won. Before the pilots flow manually using their own gut feel and intuition as the guide. But now it is nearly impossible to fly planes the same way as they are so complex, in our case, we are looking into detecting falls without any cameras. On one hand, we don’t want to generate false alarms; on the other hand, we don’t want to miss actual fall events. One solution could be to have multiple different methods to monitor the senior. Is it possible to detect the heartbeat from a distance and in case of an event that appears as a fall check biometrics data to see anything if everything is OK?”
Launch of new services and future plans
The geriatric services sector is one which is booming and constantly looking for new innovations and products to make the lives of senior citizens much more comfortable and easy. In his conversation with the TSR Fereydoun Taslimi talks about the new services of Sensorscall, he says “We are adding Biometric data connectivity to CareAlert. The caregiver can purchase approved devices such as an Oximeter or Blood pressure devices, and the information is fed automatically to our backend engine through CareAlert for analysis. In my case, my mother-in-law has COPD and has to measure her oxygen level regularly. Now, if her reading goes below 88, the app Alerts us, and we make sure she puts the oxygen mask on.” He further added that SensorCall as a company has exciting plans for the future. He says, “Sensors technology is advancing rapidly, and the price of sensors is decreasing. We see some exciting opportunities in combining new sensors with an on-the-edge machine learning engine to offer better and more accurate inferences while reducing the number of sensors needed.”
Meet the Leader behind the Success of SensorCall
Fereydoun Taslimi, Founder and CEO of Sensorscall, has done it all. From owning 11 Startups in the tech segment, Fereydoun had witnessed only 4 failures. Three out of which were acquired and one went public. He has completed his BS Engineering from Kings College University of London, Master Computer Science Georgia Tech.