According to the data collected by the Population Reference Bureau, there was 1 senior for every 4 working age people in the USA in 2017. In 2000, there were 5 working age people. By 2030, this ratio is expected to drop to 2.8 as all Baby Boomers pass into retirement. Nearly one out of 3 of these seniors are living alone, and their lack of social contact is adding $6.7B to Medicare spending annually. Startups such as Florida’s Papa are using college students to give these seniors company. New Mexico’s SameDay Security has adopted a different approach – a VR assistant named Addison.
Addison is an AI-based virtual caregiver built on AWS Sumerian. It uses tablets to communicate with the people under its care. Their vitals and other critical health indicators are monitored through a wrist pendant. This combination allows the full system (named Addison Care) to perform life-safety functions such as collecting and monitoring key vitals. Another important feature is fall protection and monitoring – the system can detect when someone has fallen, and can take appropriate steps to remedy the situation, including alerting authorities. The full solution is designed to allow users to access friendly, compassionate, and face-t0-face conversations about their health and life safety.
Addison and SameDay Security – the future of senior care?
Pew Research Center’s work on technology adoption by seniors indicates that although more seniors have internet access than before, around one in three still require someone’s assistance in getting accustomed to a new device or technology. Using smaller screens and keyboards is less intuitive and accessible for seniors than it is for young people. VR assistants can use speech and more ‘human’-like interaction to make it easier for them to use technology in general. When this is paired with healthcare monitoring for seniors, it creates the potential for a fully equipped healthcare monitoring system which can actively engage with seniors and their health concerns.
Electronic Caregiver is a SameDay Security company, has already brought a healthcare monitoring system to market. Using a wrist-worn pendant, the service monitors activity, reminds users to take their medications, helps them connect to family members through companion apps, and connects users to Emergency Medical Technicians or doctors for emergencies. SameDay Security has some experience with building healthcare monitoring systems.
The VR aspect – represented by Addison and Addison Care – will debut at the upcoming Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2019), during the Showstoppers @ CES 2019 media event on January 8. On the back of this exhibition, SameDay Security hopes to attract additional funding and institutional investors. As of December 2018, the company had just completed a Series D, bringing their funding total to $35M according to a company Press Release. The CES demo will be the first public demonstration of what the company is billing as the world’s only ‘comprehensive virtual caregiving system’.
The people behind Addison and Electronic Caregiver
Bryan Chasko is the Chief Technology Officer at Electronic Caregiver, and is the person who led the effort to build Addison. He is also one among the 54 AWS Community Heros who are recognized for contributing to creating a knowledge-sharing community. The post announcing Bryan’s inclusion to this selected list recognizes him for using AR and VR to resolve real world business challenges. Chasko had initially built Addison using video games and 3D modeling software before shifting development efforts to AWS Sumerian to make the system more empathetic and connect better with users. In addition to his expertise, SameDay Security relied on partnerships with laboratories on aging and health at the New Mexico State University. With Addison Care, Chasko and his team have built a system which relies on an expansive set of technologies. These include 3D AR interfaces, machine learning, biomechanical analytics, EHR integration, and medication management tools.
While Chasko developed the technology, Addison was also the brainchild of Tony Dohrmann, the Founder & CEO of SameDay Security. He says that the effort to build Addison was aimed at giving new life to voice-based virtual assistants which simultaneously enhanced the utility and user experience of using connected devices in a monitoring system for the elderly. Dohrmann hopes that the system will provide better utilization and satisfaction to users and customers while reducing the instances of senior hospitalization and complications, which sometimes lead to mortalities. The system is designed to improve healthcare outcomes and lower caregiving costs and stress. Dohrmann also expects the system to collect valuable data which could lead to more critical insights.
What can Addison do?
Addison and SameDay Security have ensured that the system delivers on multiple fronts. The company claims that in addition to providing security for emergency responses through Bluetooth-enabled monitoring devices, Addison also helps in a healthy lifestyle. The system monitors for assists with nutrition, weight loss, healthcare plans, and monitors medication and gives reminders. The system (as part of its anti-fall protocol) also assesses gait and movement, providing data on a daily level on falling risk. Addison Care is designed to interface and work with healthcare providers to monitor health status for trends which can show improvements or decline over time.
SameDay Security is projecting that this automated health monitoring system composed of activity detection, monitoring vitals, comprehensive healthcare data integration, medication management and emergency responses would make this the kind of system private health care partners and medical centers would be keen to purchase. The company is leveraging the network it has built through Electronic Caregiver and claims to be developing contracts with hundreds of healthcare providers to market the solution across the country.
Addison and the community
Dohrmann and SameDay Security have also shown a desire to develop their local community in New Mexico. SameDay Security has committed $1M towards health and consumer innovation, with a majority of those payments being made to the New Mexico State University, from where Dohrmann sources 90% of his employees. In addition to contracting for $340,000 towards improved classroom infrastructure, SameDay Security is also 4 positions (2 undergraduate and 2 graduate) in the University’s AR and VR labs. The company is also funding 2 gravity lab positions for mechanical and electrical engineers.
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