The Longevity

The Longevity Network’s LivePitch Wrap

Day 1 of AARP’s Innovation@50+ wrapped up yesterday afternoon when the Judge’s Choice and Audience Choice Awards for best Caregiving Healthcare Tech companies were named! If you want to watch the full competition with fast pitches and questions from the judges, check out our videos below.

Round 1 of the pitch competition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rejIfXg84_c

Round 2 and the winners' annoucement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAR-UkoK66U

Here’s a quick wrap on each of the pitches and the questions judges and audience members posed to the entrepreneurs, starting with the two winners.

Winner of the 2017 Judge’s Choice Award:  GoGoGrandparent

Justin Boogaard, co-founder of GoGoGrandparent, tells the audience that existing on-demand transportation services like Uber or Lyft would be perfect for older adults, except for two major problems: 1) 70% of users over 65 don’t have a smart phone, which is a prerequisite for using them 2) aging leads to certain kinds of slowing down, which means older users would miss certain changes and problems with using those prevalent transportation providers. GoGoGrandparent solves both these issues by coordinating access to their services using landline call-ins and by tracking and verifying all those changes that an older adult might miss—meaning that up to 25% of their users end up speaking to a real person on the other end of the GoGoGrandparent line.

An AARP member of the audience asked how the company planned to control for older adults having more and more access to smartphones. Answer: There are two major problems their app solves—one is access and it’s true that one is changing. But the other is declining capability of the elderly to adapt to unforeseen changes, such as a driver canceling a ride on Uber. And that will continue to be a need, said Boogaard “until we solve aging”).

Winner of the 2017 Audience Choice Award: Siren Care

Ran Ma, co founder and CEO of Siren Care, told listeners that their mission is to create smart textiles to empower people. Their first product is a smart sock to help diabetics prevent ulcers and amputation. If  Siren Care is right, “the only wearables you need are the clothes you wear everyday.” They started with a product for diabetics because there are over 400 people living with it, and because missing an injury leads to loss of independence and rising healthcare costs. The sensors are integrated into the fabric of the sock and the data is sent directly to the Siren app.

Judges asked about market differentiation. Answer: Many current socks for diabetics are compression socks, which only prevent edema. But research shows that only temperature monitoring reduces foot ulcers, and all other temperature sensors require behavior changes by the user, for example, using a thermometer to take the temperature of each individual foot and record readings throughout the day.

WINNERS-2-IMG_6081

Other finalists

Aegle Palette

Aegle Palette’s CEO and co-founder Yulin Li told the audience that their patented digital placemats use weights to determine and record nutritional info of meals for diabetics. Palette 1.0 captures primary data, like activity and stress levels, and correlates it with biomarkers, like blood glucose levels. This data is all stored in the Palette Vault, which is accessible to the medical team continuously. Palette 2.0 then analyzes that data and provides personalized recommendations to the patient, making it a B2B2C platform.

The judges wanted to know more about how the hardware in the placemat works.  Answer: Through photo recognition of food items and a scale to determine quantity of nutrients, calories, etc.).

AgeWell Global

AgeWell’s CEO and Founder Mitch Besser opened with a quote from the US surgeon general from 2016: “isolation is the greatest health crisis facing America”. Their solution? Employ able seniors to travel around their communities checking on less able seniors in their homes. Empowered with only a smartphone and a simple set of screening questions, these able seniors—known as AgeWells—can “be the eyes and ears of the healthcare system” to reduce hospital readmissions, ER visits and the need for institutionalized care.

Judges asked for specifics on what kind of information the AgeWells are collecting through the app. Answer: Behavioral data like whether they are falling or sleeping, or information about whether they have all their meds and food in the fridge.)

BrainCheck

BrainCheck’s COO, Wendy Fong, said it is the first evidence-based, self-administered test for measuring brain function. The company has already secured designation as a class 2 medical device and their “Sport” version has already been adopted by many schools and athletic teams to monitor head injuries for signs of concussion. They are hoping to “replicate the success of BrainCheck Sport in the memory market” by targeting mainly older adults and their caregivers.

Judges wanted to know what kind of tests are the current standard of care to assess memory and cognition in this population. Answer: There is typically a 6-8 month wait to see a specialist. In senior living centers where they use a pencil-and-paper screener, tests take 2+ hours and provide only a raw score without specifying memory vs. cognition scores.

Ceresti Health

CEO Dirk Soenksen of Ceresti Health says their target users are the unpaid caregivers for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias (ADOD), stroke, and traumatic brain injury. This enormous market of patients, he says, are “unable to self-manage” because they can’t communicate or track their own behavior, medication, etc. Ceresti’s proprietary 12-week program proposes to solve a large part of this problem delivered as a tech-enabled solution for these unpaid caregivers that provides Education, Care Plans, Support, and Coaching

An AARP member of the audience posed a great question to Soenksen, wondering whether they were aiming to replace paid caregivers. Answer: Not necessarily. Their main target users are family members already providing unpaid care and who often cannot afford paid care. Cost savings come not from replacing paid caregivers but from reduced hospitalizations and ER visits.

iBeat

iBeat’s founder and CEO, Ryan Howard says they offer two emergency response products. The $249 iBeat Watch which has a button on the watch which acts like a life alert as well as proprietary cardiac sensors monitoring function for emergency incidents. Cellular connectivity is included. Second, it includes the free Heart Hero mobile app that teaches you CPR and tests your proficiency. As part of the Heart Hero network, you will be notified if someone is having a heart incident nearby, so you can be the good Samaritan by either providing CPR or locating the nearest defibrillators whose locations are provided by the app.

A savvy audience member in the audience asked whether there would be a way the watch could predict a heart incident and not simply react to one. Answer: The watch cannot yet provide this incredibly valuable service but it is already collecting large amounts of data about this population and it is the vision to utilize that data to add predictive capability to the watch.

Kinto, Inc.

Co-founder of Kinto, Jeet Singh, explains that Kinto is an app to help manage communications and coordinate care among family, paid caregivers, and the medical team. It also aims to provide caregivers with a community of support and practical tools to help them deal with their caregiving responsibilities, including financial planning, cost tracking, home care coordination, and safety and insurance recommendations. It is set up to provide the service direct to consumers or to large employers looking to provide valuable benefits to their many employees who provide unpaid caregiving to family members.

Judges inquired about their market differentiation in what is an increasingly crowded marketplace. Answer: Most of the competitors are provider-focused whereas Kinto begins with caregiver needs –many of which are not medical.

Marvee, LLC

Heidi Culbertson, CEO and founder, said Marvee provides a centralized portal for voice-activated caregiving solutions. It is currently integrated as a series of “skills” for Amazon’s Echo but is designed to be platform-agnostic so it could eventually integrate with any number of voice-activated home devices. Today, they have several services in market, including 1) “I’m ok” alerts; 2) engagement services like family news that Marvee can deliver when asked; 3) b2b services like turning paper into voice for answering ‘everyday questions’ in a senior living facility, where many residents cannot read paper handouts about what’s for lunch or what time today’s

An audience member asked for hard evidence on seniors’ willingness to adopt voice interface, given that voice-activated devices still malfunction. Answer: In the beta phase of testing Marvee, they saw a dramatic increase in usage at the 30-day mark, which shows the seniors were understanding the interface. They credit this adoption success at least in part to their “try this today” feature—which sends out, for example, a song from the era in which the user grew up. This feature builds an emotional connection to Marvee and improves adoption.

PillDrill, Inc.

PillDrill, says Founder and CEO Peter Havas, simplifies and modernizing medication taking. Specifically, it does 3 things: 1) reminds you to take meds 2) tracks what you take through a quick bottle scan; 3) notifies family members / care givers of medication adherence. Its strengths are simplicity because it doesn’t require a smart phone, flexibility because you can program it for any regimen of medication adherence, and dignity because “in order for a product to become part of a person’s life, it cannot just be needed; it has to be loved.”

After learning the device costs $199 with no additional monthly subscription, judges were curious how they had reached this particular price point. Answer: Research about this kind of device shows that it needs to be to be over $100 in order for users to trust it but less than $200 in order to be accessible to the largest number of users.

 

AARP’s CEO Jo Ann Jenkins Addresses LivePitch Audience

When LivePitch emcee Lisa Suennen, Senior Managing Director of GE Ventures, took the stage this morning, she framed the day's conversation, saying, “As baby boomers age, we will challenge nearly every part of our economy.”

At the beginning of her keynote address to the LivePitch audience, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said that a 10-year-old child today has a 50% chance of living to 104. And that number will continue to rise. “This new longevity is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” she said, but our social attitudes and institutions have not yet caught up to the new realities of living longer lives.

AARP—and particularly this annual LivePitch competition—has one purpose in mind, says Jenkins: to empower people to choose how they live and age by providing resources and opportunities to match their longer life spans.

HEALTH, WEALTH AND SELF

Genetics accounts for only 25% of our expected life span, Jenkins reported, meaning our health has more to do with the choices we make each day than it does with our occasional visits to the doctor’s office.

This also means that our innovators have an opportunity to address the other 75%, to help older adults make smarter, healthier choices and live longer, more independent lives. But research AARP has done shows that people deal with issues related to health, wealth and self all at once, not in silos. So they don’t want solutions that put them in silos either.

Innovators are answering the call, says Jenkins. because "innovation is the engine for disrupting [our outdated views on] aging.”

Moreover, she told the audience, it is a myth that aging adults are resistant to technology as a solution to their needs. They are in fact seeking those solutions. They just need them to be simple and intuitive to use.

The challenge to all of us is to take advantage of all the information and research on living well and turn it into solutions that people want, whether those people need care or are providing that care.

FIRESIDE CHAT WITH LISA SUENNEN

The most shocking fact I have, said Jenkins, is that on average, adults are now more likely to spend more time and resources caring for an older family member than they did caring for their kids. It’s a bipartisan issue—because nearly every lawmaker has a caregiving story.

At AARP, she added, we are asking, how do we care for the caregiver?

Jo Ann Jenkins herself just lost her father two weeks ago and recently experienced what it's like to coordinate care, along with her sister, long distance. When asked whether she learned anything in taking care of her own father that informs in a new way what she was already talking about everyday, she reported that near the end of her father's life, she learned he had decided to change his healthcare plan. This plan ended up not being adequate for his needs, and it was a decision was reached in conversation with his doctor, without any of the family's knowledge.

So when Jo Ann returned to AARP, that experience triggered a conversation about investigating how difficult it is to choose an adequate health plan—and how AARP could play a role in advocating for simplifying those choices and also starting a conversation about who has decision-making power.

What Role Should Robots Play for the Aging?: A Closer Look at ElliQ

There is no doubt machines--and the rapidly improving capabilities of artificial intelligence--will play a key role in the future of aging. In countries like Japan, where the population is a bit older than here in the United States, the extreme lack of caregivers has driven technological advance to produce caregiving robots.

Today The Smithsonian Magazine, with support from New America Media, the Gerontological Society of America and AARP, published a piece on a question we rarely pause to ask: what roles should machines play and what should be left to human beings, particularly when we consider older adults?

The relationship between humans and robots is a tricky thing. If the latter looks too much like the former, but is still clearly a machine, people think it’s creepy, even repulsive—a feeling that’s become known as the “uncanny valley.”  

Or, as is sometimes the case, the human, with “Star Wars” or “The Jetsons” as his or her reference points, is disappointed by all the things the robot can’t yet do. Then, there is the matter of job insecurity—the fear of one day being replaced by a tireless, unflappable, unfailingly consistent device.

Human-robot interactions can be even more complicated for one group in particular—older adults. Many are not that comfortable with new technology, even less so if they feel it’s invading their privacy or a constant reminder of their own slipping cognitive skills.

10,000 Baby Boomers a day turn 65, but the first big wave of them is now turning 70, with much larger waves to come. The possible roles that robots could play is quite lengthy. But one need is clear: improving social engagement by augmenting and not diminishing real human connection.

“You have to walk this balance on where you are starting to impinge on somebody’s privacy versus tracking their safety and social engagement,” says David Lindeman, co-director of Health Care at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) at the University of California, Berkeley. “That’s the compelling challenge of the next decade. How do we maximize the use of this technology without having unintended consequences.

Is ElliQ the next generation of a voice-activated companion?

ElliQ is an Israeli-designed talking device designed to walk that line--it is charming but not cutesey, and most importantly, its language learning is meant to be intuitive and its movements are meant to approximate human body language. For the past month or so, the device has been tested by a small group of older adults in San Francisco.

ElliQ [is] more desk lamp than archetypal robot—think of the hopping light at the beginning of Pixar movies. But while ElliQ is meant to sit on a table or nightstand...it also moves, leaning toward the person with whom it’s speaking. It lights up, too, as another means of engagement, and uses volume and sound effects to distinguish its messages.

“Most of the way we communicate as humans is non-verbal,”[explains Dor Skuler, CEO and founder of Intuition Robotics, the Israeli company behind the device]. “It’s our body language, our use of silence and tone, [and] the way we hold ourselves. But when it comes to working with a computer, we’ve adapted to the technology instead of the other way around. We felt that a machine having a physical presence, versus a digital presence, would go a long way in having what we call natural communication.”

Skuler described a typical interaction. The grandchildren of an ElliQ owner send her photos through a chatbot using Facebook Messenger. When ElliQ sees new pictures have come in, it tells the grandmother and asks if she wants to look at them. If she says yes, ElliQ brings them up on its separate screen component. As the woman looks at the photos, so does ElliQ, tilting its “head” toward the screen, and turning the moment into more of a shared experience. With the help of its image recognition software, it might add, “Aren’t those girls cute?”

“It’s not the same as your adult child coming over to you and showing you photos of your grandchildren on her phone,” says Skuler. “But it’s also very different from you just looking at the photos on a screen by yourself. You weren’t with another person, but you weren’t really alone, either. We call that an in-between stage.

“What we like about this,” he adds, “is that without the family sending the content, there is no content. ElliQ isn’t there to replace the family. I don’t think we want to live in a world where people have meaningful relationships with machines. What it can do, though, is make that content more accessible and allow you to share the experience.”

Given that older adults are intended as prime users of ElliQ, designers felt it was crucial to respect the intelligence of the users, even as some of their cognitive abilities might be diminishing.

A lot of research went into how ElliQ looks and behaves, says Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject, the Swiss industrial design firm that worked with Intuition Robotics on the project. That included getting input from experts on aging. (“Our first hire was a gerontologist,” says Skuler.)

“One of the key premises behind ElliQ is that technology is complicated and perhaps too complex for aging people to use,” Béhar says. “But artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to engage with a person in a much simpler way. It can remind a person to take their meds, or connect with their family, or just tell them, ‘Hey, why not go outside. It’s nice out.’

“And we felt that EllliQ should be a table object, rather than a creepy robot that follows you around,” he adds. “By keeping it in one room, a person can interact with it like they would a familiar appliance in a familiar context.”

AI has gotten good enough, say ElliQ's designers, that the device can learn which techniques work best for a specific person, for example, prodding versus simply reminding.

As Skuler explains it, one of the first steps in establishing a relationship with this particular robot is to set some goals, such as how many times a week a person wants to go out for a walk or be reminded to see friends. Then, it’s up to ElliQ to determine the most effective way to do its job. In other words, it will learn that one person responds better to “It’s nice out, why don’t you go for a walk,” while another needs to be prodded more aggressively with “You’ve been on the couch watching TV for four hours. Time to get up and take a walk.”

“That’s where the emotive side kicks in,” he says. “ElliQ can set a whole different tone, and use different body language and gestures based on what works and what doesn’t work. The machine fine-tunes itself.”

Emotional dependency, says Béhar, is not the goal.

“We don’t want to create the kind of emotional dependency that social media sometimes does,” he says. “We need to make sure it complements their human relationships. It’s very important that we keep that in mind as we develop these interactions between humans and machines with artificial intelligence.”

The "Caregiving Cliff" and the Debate over "Connected Aging"

AARP says a "caregiving cliff" is coming in 2030 which is likely to precipitate our adoption of machines. Still, it is possible to be thoughtful about which roles machines play for aging adults.

AARP's [predicts that] by 2030, there will be only four family caregivers available for every person needing care, and that that will drop to three caregivers by mid-century.  

“There’s always been this interesting paradox at the heart of it,” says [Richard Adler, a research associate at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto]. “Of all the age groups, older adults stand to benefit the most from technology. In a lot of ways. But it also is the group that has the lowest level of adoption.”

He’s encouraged by the recent big leaps in voice recognition by machines because it allows older people to use technology without having to mess with smartphones or typing on small keyboards...[but] wary of machines taking too much control. “There’s the discussion of AI versus IA—intelligence augmented—where machines extend human capabilities instead of replacing them.”

That tension between what technology can now do and how much older people actually use it is at the heart of what’s become known as “connected aging”—the use of machines, from smartphones to sensors to wearable devices, that can enable adults to grow old in their own homes. David Lindeman, who is also director of the Center for Technology and Aging in California, has been studying how older adults interact with machines for a long time, and while he points out that researchers are still in the early stages of understanding how technology can affect social isolation, he sees a lot of potential.

“I think it’s better to err on the side of let’s get people engaged and see what works,” he says. “There are such deficits in terms of social engagement for a lot of people.” He points to software that makes it easier for older adults to share stories from their past, and the use of virtual reality to help them feel less isolated.

The Role of Sensors: Measuring a Baseline and Flagging Behavior Changes

“Motion sensors are the bread and butter because they can point to where a person is in the home,” says [Diane Cook, a researcher at Washington State University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Adaptive Systems]. “Location alone doesn’t let you know what’s going on, but when you combine it with the time of day, what happened right before, and where they were, then you can start to see patterns that make a lot of sense.”

The research has been augmented by assessments of the subjects’ mental and physical health every six months, and it turned out that Cook and her team were able to predict “with promising results” how people would score on the tests, based on what the sensor data showed about their behavior. Changes in sleep patterns, for instance, were found to be correlated with changes in cognitive health.

That, say longtime researchers like Lindeman, could be one of the greater benefits of technology when it comes to addressing the needs of an aging society. “We will be able to identify when people have differences in their gait, differences in their affect, differences in their interactions and the way they communicate, and that could help us pick up signs of depression and dementia much earlier.”

What Constitutes Advancement?: the Difference between Technological Success and Societal Success

At the end of the day, what role machines should play in the lives of aging adults is an ethical question. And to answer an ethical question, one needs a clear understanding of the desired goal.

[A]s with any technology, the rapid advances in AI and robotics can jump ahead of comprehending their impact. Guy Hoffman certainly understands this. Hoffman is a leading expert on human-robot interactions. A TED talk he did a few years ago, in which he showed robots improvising music, has been viewed almost 3 million times.

Now a researcher and visiting assistant professor at Cornell University, Hoffman served as an advisor on the ElliQ project.

Hoffman admits to having mixed feelings about [the way robots are better and better able to mimic empathetic behavior]. “There’s a bright side and a dark side to all of this. Do we want people to talk to robots when they feel lonely? Are we solving a problem or are we making it worse? Those are the questions we need to ask.

“I always remind people that success should not be measured by technological success, but by societal success. There is a distinction that needs to be made between what is possible to do and what is desirable to do with robotics.

“That is really one of the most important conversations we need to have about technology today,” Hoffman says. “In one way, technology is increasingly successful in addressing our social needs. But we do not want the technology to drive our human values. We want our human values to drive our technology.”

Wearable mHealth for Monitoring Cardiac Conditions is Quickly Gaining Ground

Two cardiac mHealth companies have had a big week--with announcements for both involving Mayo Clinic. The AliveCor and BioSig deals are indicative of the rapid adoption trend around cardiac wearable devices with integrated AI capabilities.

San Francisco-based company [AliveCor] announced a Series D funding round of $30 million, led by Omron Healthcare with participation from the Mayo Clinic.

AliveCor, whose Kardia Mobile was among the first ECG wearables on the market, has announced the release of Kardia Pro, a platform that adds artificial intelligence capabilities to help doctors and patients identify atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia and an indicator of potential stroke.

Separately, the Mayo Clinic announced a 10-year partnership with BioSig Technologies, a Minneapolis-based medical device company looking to develop its PURE EP cardiac signal acquisition and display platform for commercial use.

BioSig has been working to create a digital health device that can help electrophysiologists diagnose and treat patients with abnormal heart rates and rhythms, including those suffering from atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

These power of these wearable products is that they provide baseline measurements of cardiac patterns, coupled with the individualized tracking and learning of AI.

“During the first month of usage of Kardia Mobile, we learn about a user’s individualized heart profile,” says AliveCor’s CEO, Vic Gundotra. “Your personalized heart profile can be used for two benefits. First, it helps keep the data clean. If a doctor is monitoring your health using Kardia Pro, he or she can be more confident that the data he/she is reviewing is truly her patient’s and not someone else's. Second, and even more exciting, is that in the future, a heart profile may be able to find, and flag to your doctor, important changes in your ECG.”

"These are the kinds of tools that in the future no cardiologist will want to not practice with," Gundotra adds. "AI will supplement a cardiologist’s service, really being able to provide a higher level of service to the patient."

It's no surprise, then, that cardiac mHealth devices are front and center in the rapid shift toward patient-centric and consumer-centric care.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making their way quickly into the healthcare space, led by tech giants like Microsoft and IBM, whose Watson Health unit is partnering with health systems and mHealth companies across the globe.

“It’s (advancing) personalized healthcare,” says Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, IBM Watson Health’s chief health officer. “The potential of mHealth in empowering individuals and promoting populations is enormous.”

Apple Lags Far Behind Amazon, Google in Smart-home Market

 

While Apple has been a market leader in smartphone sales for over a decade, they have yet to even offer a voice-controlled device specifically for the home that could compete with Amazon’s Alexa or Alphabet’s Google Home.

Consumer electronics giant Apple (AAPL) is "losing badly" in the nascent smart-home market, despite having arguably the best user experience with its HomeKit technology, Edison Investment Research analyst Richard Windsor said in a note Tuesday.

Apple is a "very distant third" in the smart-home market..., Windsor said. [They have] been rumored to be working on a home appliance that uses its Siri voice-response personal assistant. But so far Siri is mostly an application on Apple's iPhone smartphones.

Siri of course can be voice-activated, but research shows the power of the home devices is that a user can have both hands fully occupied with some other task and still activate it.

"Usage of both Alexa and Google Home show that over 60% of all usage is generated when the user's hands are busy with another task, [said Windsor.]  “This makes the use case of Siri on a device that needs to be removed from the pocket not as easy or as intuitive as Alexa or Google Home."

Still, Apple has made advances that neither of the other two tech giants have achieved.

Apple had done a better job of integrating home devices so users can give a single command when doing things like going to bed, leaving the home or returning home, Windsor said.

"This makes it easy to turn off all the lights, lock up, turn down the heating, and so on with a single button press, which is something that neither of the other two have come close to offering," Windsor said.

But consumer preference for the voice-activated home device may mean they miscalculated market priorities. If Apple is going to enter this burgeoning market, they are going to have a lot of catching up to do.

Amazon's Alexa grabbed 88% of the intelligent home speaker market in the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics said Tuesday. Alphabet came in second with 10% market share after launching its Google Home speaker in November, the research firm said.

Some 4.2 million intelligent home speakers were shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter, up nearly 600% year over year, Strategy Analytics said.

"Amazon has had a near two-year head start over its rivals and has done an excellent job of building out an ecosystem of compatible devices and services or skills," Strategy Analytics analyst David Watkins said in a statement. "However, Google is hot on Amazon's heels and the search giant should be able to significantly cut Amazon's lead over the coming year thanks to its superior AI platform and well-established technology-licensing model, which has proved successful through its Chromecast built-in program."

Nokia Announces IoT ‘Patient Care’ Platform and Rebranding of Withings’ Health Mate App, Products

The World Mobile Congress begins today in Barcelona, Spain where Consumer Internet of Things is one of seven highlighted themes. The power of Consumer IoT to disrupt the healthcare industry will be central to this afternoon’s session, entitled “The Future Of Health Is Digital”.

Just in time for this global Congress, Nokia announced it is launching its own IoT platform called Patient Care, which will integrate with several health and fitness-tracking products that were part of last year’s acquisition of Withings.

Less than one year after Nokia acquired Withings for $192.3 million, the telecommunications company will commit more forcefully to Nokia as a digital health company with a rebranding of Withings to Nokia early this summer, according to a company news release. The move was part of a series of new developments at the business, which will include a new connected device platform called Patient Care and a redesigned Health Mate application.

Patient Care is an Internet of Things platform used to support remote monitoring by clinicians. The platform syncs with the Health Mate app to share data gathered from the patient’s use of the company’s wireless blood pressure monitor and body cardio scale. Other devices that could be integrated into that platform include a wireless, FDA-cleared thermometer, and smartwatches and activity trackers currently branded as Withings.

Nokia is already promising to address the myriad ways its Patient Care platform and Health Mate app could be specifically adapted for the senior population.

Nokia’s digital health team is also collaborating with IBM for senior health, Cedric Hutchings, Nokia’s vice president of digital health, said in a phone interview. Nokia is working on ways to use cognitive computing such as integrating cognitive functionality into wearables and smart devices for home care. These voice-activated tools could use simple commands and offer reminders to take medication or turn off appliances.

With a trial in the UK underway and a few in US pending, the platform aims not only at at giving clinicians access to crucial patient data; through its redesigned Health Mate app, family members and caregivers will also be able to monitor information about loved ones.  

The platform is currently undergoing a series of clinical studies in the UK and U.S. The National Health Service in the UK currently uses Nokia’s platform in a 69,000 person clinical program to improve understanding of hypertension and how remote monitoring can be used to reduce hypertension rates. In the U.S., Fairview Health System and the University of Kentucky are also assessing the Patient Care platform.

The redesigned Health Mate app will improve user experiences by making it easier to add devices and share information with family members. The app will also include coaching tools to improve patient engagement.

Entrepreneur of the Week: Davide Vigano, Sensoria

Sensoria began in 2010 as a wearable tech company aimed at helping runners avoid injury by improving their technique. They still offer a number of wearables for advanced fitness tracking, but over the past few years, the Redmond, Washington-based company has taken its proprietary textile sensors and adapted them for a number of consumer-facing healthcare products.

By integrating artificial intelligence software, Sensoria now thinks of itself as an IoT company whose healthcare products can enhance treatment and even prevent diabetic foot complications; improve fall detection and prevention; enhance prosthetics fit and function; and track and augment rehabilitation. 

Longevity Network: What does Sensoria, the company do?

David Vignano: Our vision is The Garment is The Computer®. Headquartered in Redmond, (WA) Sensoria Inc. is a leading developer of IoMe (Internet of Me) wearables and artificial intelligence software solutions that improve people's lives. Our proprietary textile sensor-infused smart garments, Sensoria Core microelectronics and cloud system enable smart footwear and clothing to convert data into actionable information for health and fitness users in real-time.

LN: Can you tell us about your products and how they work? 

DV: Our smart socks are infused with our proprietary 100% textile sensors imbedded in the plantar area of the foot which delivers superior accuracy in terms of not only how far and how fast but how well you walk or run by tracking cadence, foot landing technique and contact time on ground.  The current version connects to a Bluetooth smart detachable anklet which pairs with Sensoria Run or Sensoria Walk applications which provides real-time audio and video feedback.  The newest version, sock 2.0, connects to our revolutionary new technology platform, Sensoria Core, which is comprised of proprietary textile sensors, electronics, mobile application and cloud infrastructure.

Our smart upper garments provide accurate and consistent heart rate monitoring without the hassle of wearing a strap.  The upper garments are compatible with Polar H7 and Garmin Premium as well as with 3rd party apps.  The HRM is dual mode (Bluetooth Smart and Ant+).  The garments are made with Emana® yarn, a far infrared technology that improves skin elasticity.

The socks and upper garments are antimicrobial, machine washable and have moisture wicking capabilities.

LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?

DV: Originally, we were focused on the running marketplace.  There are over 120M active runners world-wide and according to recent studies, between 65 and 80% are injured at least one per year each year.  Sensoria not only wants to let runners know how far and how fast they run, but also how well they run which will allow them to increase performance while reducing their likelihood for injury.  In late 2010, we realized that the clothing we wear could become the next wave of ultra-personal computing (following the PC, and then the smart phone). Sensoria is focused on delivering the vision that The Garment is the Computer®.  We felt that there was an opportunity for the sports apparel and fashion industry to reinvent itself through technology, so we set out to create smart garments that behave like a biometric sensing computer that feels natural with elegant, cool looks.

LN: Who are your primary users? How do your products benefit the 50+ population?

DV: Originally, Sensoria was geared toward the running community; however, over time we realized that our same sensor technology could benefit not only the elderly but the healthcare industry as well, specifically in terms of neurological diseases, diabetic foot complications, as well as fall detection and prevention.

In 2016, we released Sensoria® Walk for the elderly, people with gait impairments, limited mobility and/or people going through rehabilitation.  The app accurately tracks steps, distance and time.  Sensoria® Walk is available for iOS devices via the app store.

In addition, we are currently working with Dr. Sujata Pradham, UW Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, in enabling earlier discovery and treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms using our smart socks and Fitbit trackers.  You can view details here.

UpBed is a Sensoria partner that leveraged our SDK. Sensoria Core is currently used in trials to reduce risk of falling in dementia and Alzheimer's patients in Maine.  You can view a short video here.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

DV: As a start-up, we are heavily invested in R&D and therefore, needed to create a multi-disciplinary team so that we could offer a robust end-to-end solution from sensors to software to hardware to the cloud.  The core competencies of Sensoria include strong engineering and product development, which includes hardware, software, firmware, material, mechanical, signal processing and other capabilities.  We also have experience designing and manufacturing sensor infused garments as well as strong marketing acumen.

LN: How has Sensoria the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

DV: We knew that we needed a team of multidisciplinary engineers but getting them to all speak the same language was a growing process for us.  We might have underestimated how much of a challenge that would be.  It was definitely the right decision but it took a bit of time to get us to that place.  Now, it is great because they are able to solve one another’s problems.

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your products?

DV: One of the biggest challenges was in terms of finding the correct sensors.  We were not able to find what we wanted in the market place so we spent a lot of time and resources in developing our own proprietary textile sensors.

LN: What most excites you about the health technology market?

DV: Sensoria has always been committed to developing wearable solutions that help improve people’s lives.  We are excited to be partnering with a team of cardiologists from the University of Pharma to release Heart Sentinel™ to the marketplace.  Heart Sentinel™ is a cardiologist-designed, patent pending algorithm that may detect cardiac irregularities that often precede a catastrophic event, such as sudden cardiac arrest.  There are so many verticals and applications that can utilize our sensing technology.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

DV: Recent studies show that adults 50+ will continue to be the most powerful consumers in the marketplace.  The last of the baby boomers turned 50 in 2014 and there are over 100M adults in the US alone over the age of 50.  In addition, this portion of the population has the most disposable income so this is encouraging.  What I would advise is that their solutions need to combine ease of use with technical sophistication.  These startups should invest in conducting appropriate market research to determine what this section of the marketplace needs, what and how much they are willing to pay and how they can differentiate their offerings as this is a highly competitive field.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

DV: Sensoria is heavily invested in R&D.  We are also constantly improving our current offerings incorporating customer feedback.  Yes, we have different products and projects in development; however, I am not at liberty to discuss.  At CES earlier this month, we announced our collaboration with VIVOBAREFOOT in the creation of a Smart Running Shoe.  You can view a recent article in Digital Trends here.

LN: Where do you see Sensoria five years from now?  

DV: Our long term goal is to become the standard of wearables, but we want to take it a step beyond that – a more of an Internet of Me approach where the garment itself should be able to replace a wearable device. We are more of an Internet of Things company that wants to IoT enable our garments / accessories or partner with other brands to IoT enable their products versus a wearable device company. In addition, we see continued applications and partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, military, etc.  The options and verticals are seemingly endless from our perspective.  It really depends on finding the right partners to deliver the right products / solutions.

LN: What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?

DV: I hope that technology is so advanced that we are making great strides in curing or at least significantly decreasing the progression of all incurable diseases.  Even better would be the ability to predict disease before a person becomes infected.  Disease prevention is less costly than disease management.

Davide Vigano is cofounder and CEO of Sensoria Inc. Sensoria designs, develops and produces bio-sensing wearable garments. The vision of the company is that the Garment itself will become the next ultra-personal, mobile computer. Davide is a former Microsoft partner level executive with over 25 years of sales, marketing and extensive product management experience. As an intern he started the international localization group for MacWorks and MacOffice in 1987.

More recently, he served as General Manager of the Health Solutions Group where he was in charge of marketing and product strategy for both HealthVault and the Amalga product line. He acted as Vice President of the Worldwide SMSP Medium Business division which he grew 18% YOY to over $14B. Davide also managed the Italian Marketing, Business and Enterprise operations for five years and brought it to number one in the world for contribution margin, 6th largest Microsoft subsidiary in the world by revenues.

To learn more about Sensoria, visit their website or follow them on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

AARP Announces $10k Innovation Prize

The Innovation Champion Award is aimed at spurring innovation in aging, "empowering people to choose how they live as they age." A primary criterion, however, will be universal design, that is, design that appeals and offers usability to all age groups.

Caregiving will be the theme of the competition this year, a field that will demand innovation over the next few years, according to AARP.

By 2020, 117 million Americans are expected to need assistance, but the overall number of caregivers will only reach 45 million. This is a huge opportunity for companies large and small to reach an emerging market – and improve the lives of caregivers and their recipients.

Entries in any of the six following caregiving categories will be accepted:

  1. Health & Safety Awareness
  2. Care Coordination
  3. Transition Support
  4. Social Well-Being
  5. Caregiver Quality of Life
  6. Daily Essential Activities

Companies interested in competing in the event need to apply by April 15th. In addition to the $10,000 prize, winners will receive a trip for 2 company representatives to Washington D.C. where they will be given a tour AARP’s Innovation Lab and meet with AARP Chief Innovation Officer, Terry Bradwell. They will also be given official recognition at AARP HQ event, an ad or Editorial coverage in i3 magazine, and AARP Innovation Champion consulting.

Entrepreneur of the Week: Patrick Bertagna, GTX Corp

GTX Corp -- an acronym for Global Trek Xploration -- was an early player in the location-tracking wearable tech market. When it was founded in 2002, as the name suggests, GTX was originally focused on outdoor adventurers, but they now operate in a much broader market: anyone looking to keep track of a person or other valuable. 

In early 2015, they launched a product specifically aimed at helping caregivers keep track of their loved ones with dementia, Alzeimers or other conditions that cause a person to wander. They now offer a suite of products they describe as an IoT Personal Location Services (PLS) platform. These products use patented tracking methods to provide continuous, real-time location coordinates rendered on a map on a GTX portal.

GTX Corp is a holding company that owns and operates two subsidiaries and has been publicly traded since 2008. It is headquartered in Los Angeles and has a European distribution and fulfillment center in Ireland / U.K. They also have international reseller/distributors in 13 countries and service customers in over 20 countries. 

We spoke to Founder, Chairman and CEO Patrick Bertagna about GTX Corp and the opportunity he sees in the 50+ market. 

Longevity Network: What does GTX Corp, the company do?

Patrick Bertagna: GTX Corp is a pioneer and innovator in Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS, cellular and BLE tracking and recovery location based services. Through its proprietary IoT enterprise monitoring platform GTX offers a complete end-to-end solution of hardware, software and connectivity, backed by an extensive portfolio of patents.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with distributors in 14 countries and customers in over 35 countries, GTX is known for its award-winning patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack- the world’s first invisible wearable technology device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.

LN: Can you tell us about the GPS SmartSole and how it works?

PB: The GPS SmartSoles are a wearable tracking and monitoring device that communicates the location of the wearer without user intervention. The GPS Smart Insole is a communication platform sending location and movement to the GTX app or portal and in the near future will include vital signs and bio-metrics, such as heart rate, pulse, weight and temperature. The simplicity behind the SmartSole Platform is that when someone wanders off or becomes lost, a geo-fence alert is emailed or text, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the wanderer’s location, speed and bearing.

pb-ss-product-feature

LN: What opportunity did you want to address with the development of your technology?

PB: We believe the most effective technical solutions are the ones most easily used. Our goal was to develop miniaturized, low power consumption GPS location finding technology packaged in the most portable user friendly format- hence we pioneered what is now the multi-billion dollar wearable tech industry. With this technology, the opportunities were vast- ranging from seniors with cognitive memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, children with autism, military and law enforcement, mobile work force and high value assets. Our patented technology delivers a new level of functional oversight, security and peace of mind to a wide variety of audiences and needs.

LN: Who are your primary users? In what ways can your products benefit the 50+ population?

PB: Those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury. Currently there are 100 million people worldwide who are part of this at risk wandering group and that number is expected to reach 277 million by 2050.

The 50+ population are more technically inclined and live farther away from loved ones than ever before in history, our product empowers them to be more free and enjoy life more while providing real time information to loved ones even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

PB: The original team was a group of like-minded business people that I had worked with in my previous ventures, all with certain skill sets that helped us get past the idea phase and into the realizations phase. We had a big idea and people wanted to come join us, over the years our inner circle kept growing and we kept being introduced to new experts in their respective fields and we built out our team. I’m proud to say Louis Rosenbaum the co-founder is still with us as both a board member and head of operations and finance. Many of our board members and management have been with us for over a decade. We have a very passionate and committed team.

LN: How has GTX the company differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

PB: At its core not much- we set out to make a best in class  miniaturized tracking solution and sell that all over the world and we now have active customers in over 35 countries.  We have diversified somewhat as we don’t just make and sell products, we also license our technology through our extensive patent portfolio. It did take a lot longer than expected for all the moving parts in the eco system to come to fruition, but the good news is we have a lot more runway in front of us as new technologies become available the path the what’s possible keeps on growing…

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your concept?

PB: It was going to take a lot more time, money and effort.

LN: What most excites you about the aging and or health technology market?

PB: The size and scope of this growing market - The advancements in science and medicine enables people to live longer and they expect a longer and higher quality of life in their sunset years. Globalization has increased disposable income so hundreds of millions of people now have access to technology, first time in history- by 2020 there will be 6 billion smartphones in use across the globe. It’s truly a remarkable time to be part of this and watch the next generation break 100 years in average life span.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

PB: Balance your messaging, this audience wants information not just tweets or YouTube videos. Provide a quality product or service, it’s not just about price and have patience, this demo typically does not impulse buy.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

PB: Yes we have several in the works, ranging from home health monitoring, bio metrics and we are also developing products and solutions for the military and law enforcement. We are also looking at developing a tracking, monitoring and compliance solution for the medical industry.

LN: Where do you see GTX five years from now?

PB: Staying at the forefront of this industry, developing new applications for tracking and monitoring people and high value assets. It’s in our DNA- we all want to know where someone or something is and GTX is in the Where is business.

Patrick Bertagna is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and thought leader in the wearable technology industry with 35+ years in building technology and consumer product companies. Since 2002 Patrick has been the founder, Chairman and CEO of GTX Corp (GTXO), a pioneer in the wearable technology industry and co-inventor of over a dozen GPS and communication protocol patents currently in the GTX IP portfolio. GTX has been at the forefront of Smart, Mobile and Wearable GPS tracking and recovery location based solutions and is known for its award-winning, patented GPS SmartSole® - Think Dr. Scholl’s meets LoJack - the world’s first invisible wearable tracking device created for those at risk of wandering due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury.

Mr. Bertagna also sits on the JBF Board which engages in philanthropic initiatives around the world, empowering women and children living in impoverished and underdeveloped communities by enabling food security; promoting access to education and cultural exchanges; assisting in medical aid and disaster relief; while building and promoting peace.

Mr. Bertagna was born in the South of France, grew up in Los Angeles, went to Cal State University of Northridge and has lived in several countries throughout his career and is fluent in French and Spanish. He has formed alliances with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, T-Mobile, EE, AT&T, Telefonica, Google, Federated Stores, Netscape and GE; and has been a keynote speaker at numerous industry trade shows and conferences.

Breath Monitor Test Takes on an Old Foe: The Flu

Technology for personalized diagnostics seems to be advancing at a dizzying pace, and this breath monitor from a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington is tackling one of our most mundane--and prevalent--illnesses: the flu.

The device, [developed by materials science and engineering professor Perena Gouma], is similar to the breathalyzers law enforcement use to determine if you've had too much to drink. The difference is that it employs low-cost sensors to analyze a person's breath and isolate biomarkers that can indicate whether or not you have the flu.

If a device like this were available over-the-counter, we could catch the flu early and treat it before it becomes a major health problem. What's more, the breath-analyzing gadget could be used to help keep the flu virus from spreading in places like...office[s].

"Before we applied nanotechnology to create this device, the only way to detect biomarkers in a person's breath was through very expensive, highly-technical equipment in a lab, operated by skilled personnel," Gouma said. "Now, this technology could be used by ordinary people to quickly and accurately diagnose illness."

This relatively inexpensive diagnostic tool provides a simple and elegant tool that is proving to be every bit as accurate as those more traditional, expensive tests performed in a doctor’s office, and with simple modifications, has applications for conditions far beyond the flu.

[Professor Gouma] used existing medical research into the biomarkers in a patient's breath when they have a particular medical condition. For example, people who have asthma have a higher concentration of nitric oxide in their breath. Gouma then built the flu device using nitric acid and ammonia sensors to pick up on the virus.

Gouma eventually sees devices like this being able to test for other diseases and medical conditions -- like Ebola. "I think that technology like this is going to revolutionize personalized diagnostics," she explained. "This will allow people to be proactive and catch illnesses early, and the technology can easily be used to detect other diseases, such as Ebola virus disease, simply by changing the sensors."