Senior living done as well and as independently as possible will save governments billions – this is why the Agetech sector is ripe for increased investment.
Recently we told you about AI start-up CUSH Health, a company committed to proactively reducing the number of falls suffered by the elderly. This has inspired us to do a round-up of some of the British agetech developments and companies we think it’s worth keeping an eye on.
After all, as Sarah Coates, a statistician for the Centre for Ageing and Demography in the ONS, said: “The structure of the UK’s population is changing: people living longer and having fewer children means the age structure is shifting towards later ages .
Longevity.Technology: The UK’s population is aging; by 2050 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) projects that one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 years and over – an increase from approximately one in five in 2018. It’s no wonder, therefore, that companies and investors are turning their attention to technology that bring living longer closer to living well.
Independent living is a key concern – the ONS also notes that “in 2018, nearly half of those living alone (48%) were aged 65 years and over, and more than one out of every four (27%) were aged 75 years and over.”
With this in mind, startup Birdie has raised £6M; its range of home-based systems is designed to improve the independence of the older population. The company’s connected visual, motion and sonar sensors alert carers to events such as falls, or “wandering” and can be used by both care professionals and supporting family.
Birdie CEO Max Parmentier said: “It drives me nuts that we’re talking about self-driving cars and all these great technologies, and yet we’re regularly letting older people be left helpless on the bathroom floor for 48 hours because simple technology is not used .”
Birdie also has a system that allows care workers to digitise and co-ordinate notes on elderly people living at home. This cuts down on prescribing errors and ensures vital information doesn’t go astray. Parmentier is planning to use machine learning to look at caregiver reports and data from sensors to deduce behaviour patterns and use the system to alert to changes that could alert to potential health worries.
Also at the vanguard of independent living for older adults, Alcove‘s IoT technology boasts integrated sensors, wearables, Amazon Echo and in-home communication aids. The company also provides simplified versions of everyday technology that are designed for those who are less tech-savvy or suffering from dementia.
Alcove alerts can be personalised to an individual as well as escalated if not responded to. The company has built a care “skill” on Amazon’s Alexa devices and integrated its devices fully into Amazon platforms.
Vidatec has recently acquired a majority stake in CareZapp a company that uses in-home sensors to help care teams connect and collaborate and provides technology-enabled care and support. IoT technology allows the data harvested from ambient sensors and connected devices to be aggregated and once machine learning is applied, meaningful alerts, notifications and insights can be delivered. A range of variables can be monitored, including motion, location, heart rate, breathing and temperature.
Cera, whose £13M funding round in 2018 made them one of the best-funded agetech start-ups in the UK, has developed a centralised technology platform. The platform allows automation of care services, such as matching patients and carers, co-ordinating payments and dedicated customer support and aims to cut logistical and administrative costs.
Cera has recently formed a partnership with IBM to trial their autonomous vehicle technology in home care. IBM’s “lidar” sensors will scan the home environment and learn the occupant’s regular daily routine. If the routine is disrupted, carers would be alerted using IoT technology.
Another wireless sensor-based smart home monitoring system worthy of mention is that developed by Canary Care. Recently acquired by Lifecycle Software Ltd for an undisclosed amount, Canary Care has been backed by the VC wing of Mercia Technologies and crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom. Canary Care was founded by the ex-head of Corporate Finance at BUPA (Britain’s largest private healthcare provider) and was one of the first British agetech startups to raise equity finance, waaaaay back in 2013.
Abingdon-based Canary Care’s remote home sensing system can be used to monitor elderly family members’ movements, ambient temperature, quality of sleep, lavatory visits and door activity. The system has a built-in mobile connection and the data can be viewed via a portal and both text and email alerts can be enabled.
RemindMeCare has developed a free smartphone app for older people wanting to live independently and their family and friends. Designed to augment “reminiscence therapy”, it uses digital content to help trigger past memories for dementia patients, a popular therapy method. A paid version for care homes is also available.
The app brings together music, photos and video as well as a built-in schedule for reminders, remote support, medication alerts, activities for companionship, entertainment and therapeutic activities and cross-generation and cultural engagement.
RISE.IQ is hoping to improve dementia care by providing sufferers and their carers with essential dementia information in bite-sized chunks. The software coaches carers on the best way to help dementia patients and is available from a smart speaker.
Memrica is a startup that uses software to stave off cognitive decline, thus delaying the need for care. It does this by encouraging users to stay socially and physically active with a smartphone companion app that provides reminders, makes community connections for active enjoyment and learns from user behaviour and dispatches alerts to family and trusted third parties if changes are detected.
Reminiscience specialises in the production and delivery of virtual reality experiences for elderly residents in care homes. Information from both families and care staff is harvested and developed into tailored videos which promote conversation and stimulate reminiscence. Mental stimulation is encouraged by full VR immersion in a variety of differing locations.
These companies are great examples of Agetech innovation and the UK is a great place, with its National Health Service, and strong private sector, to launch an Agetech start-up: On-par with Switzerland.