A new app is making it easier to care for elderly loved ones who live alone, by monitoring movement and behaviours. Emily McDaid learns more about the self-learning technology.
It can be stressful to have elderly parents who want to live at home, especially past the point where they can care for themselves completely on their own. The biggest worry is that they might fall, or worse, pass away, and no one knows.
To combat this fear, Belfast-based engineer Paul Moorhead has come up with a solution: Kraydel.
Kraydel is a touch screen system for monitoring the health and wellbeing of older or vulnerable people who live alone.
“Our aim is to be there for our parents or loved ones as much as humanly possible, but we all work and usually have our own children to look after,” explained Moorhead, who was inspired by the experience of caring for his own mother. At nearly 90 years of age, she wants to remain in her home no matter what her circumstances, as she loves caring for her garden.
“I cannot be there 24/7 for my mother, nor does she want me to be. To imagine her falling in the garden and no one being there quickly – well, it’s unthinkable,” said Moorhead.
How does Kraydel work?
Kraydel’s technology takes the form of a ‘base station’, or a hub with a touch screen, that monitors movement in the home. It can sense when someone moves through the house, showing that the person is up and about. In-person visits can be supplemented with video calls conducted through the hub, so they’re checked on more often.
Kraydel is paired with a wrist strap that monitors heart rate, temperature, and an accelerometer to detect falls, seizures or to monitor tremor. It also assesses location. It can assist with people who have dementia and who may be at risk of venturing too far from home.
Crucially (and potentially protectable by patents), the software can self-learn the person’s typical behaviours and detect if something seems amiss. After a week in use, it starts to ‘know’ the subject and can raise alerts if behaviours change suddenly.
“The at-home market is just one push for us – we feel selling this into care homes and care providers is our priority market to begin with. Some visits can be supplemented with virtual visits, so carers spend less time in the car and more time helping people,” said Moorhead.
The technology behind Kraydel
Moorhead explained how his app works: “We overlay reminder screens onto their TV view, and to do that, our base stations sit in between their set top box and their HDMI input port on the TV. They don’t need a Smart TV. There is a version that works with terrestrial signals as well.”
Moorhead said, “We have a working system today with a touch screen UI. We’ll develop the proof of concept solution for the TV by February 2017 and at the same time, we’re seeking seed funding of early product development of £150,000. We’ll then look for an funding round of £500,000.
“There’s scope to add more telemedicine aspects to our hub; such as blood pressure measurement, pinprick blood analysis and a pulse oximeter. We envision ourselves as being part of an ecosystem of the new wave of healthcare.”
Innovations like Kraydel can spark a whole new market of ‘virtual care’ for people who just need a bit more support. One example is medicine reminders – many elderly people take multiple tablets per day, and the system can send reminders through their TV.
The hands that rock the Kraydel
Paul came into this market with a strong background in the internet of things (IoT), previously working at Intel. A new CEO, Dr Lisa Smith, has joined the team, bringing with her extensive expertise in business from across the UK and North America.
The strong team is buoyed by a market potential consisting of (possibly) every human being on Earth. This is just one of the reasons that Kraydel made it to the finals of the Invent Awards 2016 in the category Life and Health.
Kraydel has recently signed a deal with Tafta – a provider of retirement homes in South Africa with over 30,000 people in their care – for this lower-level style of assistance.
By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch
A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch