Read more about how the concept has become a viable product and a service to monitor seniors in an interview with Forbes. (In Slovak).
English version below.
When they started to develop a system to monitor seniors three years ago, it was an unconventional side job for them. The concept has eventually become a very viable product and service, MONSE. We have talked to Peter Dostál, CEO at Aliter Technologies, on how this system can help seniors and their family members.
What has prompted your company to come up with the idea to create a system to monitor seniors?
This idea has originated from my personal needs. A few years ago, when my mother found herself living alone in her apartment, my siblings and I became concerned. All of us are busy at work, so we can’t communicate with her on daily basis. However, we would like to know whether she is doing OK or needs something. She is over 70 years old, is self-sufficient, but sometimes may become ill and we would not know until the weekend when visiting her. Alternatively, she may leave behind her mobile phone, and then we don’t know if something wrong happened to her.
I see these problems with my mother, but today it is the same situation for many people. They can still take care of themselves, they want to live in their own familiar room where they have lived for decades, and the facilities for seniors are no go for them. In such cases, there is the risk they may accidentally fall, lose consciousness, or become unexpectedly ill. It does make sense to keep them at home, but we need to know when such situations occur. Peace of mind – that is the value this system brings me. It allows our seniors to live longer in their own, natural home environment.
How does the system work? What are the methods and possibilities of monitoring?
The scenario is that the senior lives alone, or with their pets only. This system cannot be used for any area where several people live. From a technological point of view, you can compare it to an alarm. Each room will have its own PIR motion detector installed. Ours are wireless and have several technical particularities compared to alarms. They are easy to install and include an efficient communication protocol to prevent their batteries from quickly discharging. Moreover, the system includes door contacts. We want to know when the front door opens, especially at night. A problem may also arise if there is a message that the door has not opened for a long time, that means the senior has not gone out of the apartment for a walk for some 2-3 days, or has not come back home for a long time. Other problems may be some abnormally intense motion at night, or 2 hours spent in the bathroom. All of this information is important to us. On this basis, the family member receives a notification via email or text message. As a rule, email is used for notifications where immediate intervention is not necessary. Text messages report an alarm, that means a serious condition requiring immediate intervention. The system also includes an SOS button for the senior to trigger the alarm. It may be placed in the bathroom, for example.
How can the system determine which situation deviates from normal conditions? Can their sons or daughters set it up individually?
At this stage, we have programmed the application logic. We manually set an approximate daily regimen for the senior and the family member will receive a notification when anything occurs outside the regimen. They can individually indicate how and whether they should be notified by the system in order to avoid receiving unnecessary notifications. In the future, by having more data, it will also be possible to use artificial intelligence. It means that the neural network will itself learn the habits and behaviour of the senior and will only notify in the event of deviation. However, we don’t have sufficient data yet. As part of the concept, we have contacted 50 candidates to receive it for free and test it for us. We haven’t come to the final number yet, so we can still include more candidates in the portfolio. When it comes to retail, MONSE will be available until the end of the year. We want our prices to be affordable for the general public. The current price of the system is at the level of a mobile phone and the service also costs approximately as much as its operation.
Do your clients express any concerns about compromising their privacy?
Our system does not interfere with the privacy of seniors. We do not use cams or microphones. We collect a minimum of personal data with the consent of the data subjects. In order to prevent any relatives from installing the system for their seniors against their will, each senior to whom we install the system shall be informed in a letter to inform them directly about its functions and who asked to install the system, including the PIN code. If they disagree with the installation of the system, they are not obliged to issue the PIN to anyone, and the system will never activate without entering the PIN.
Can the system monitor seniors even if they leave home?
For this purpose, the system also includes a tracker, which is actually a kind of key ring attached to the senior’s keys to the apartment. Our experience suggests this is the only thing they will never forget when leaving their apartment. The pendant has a built-in GPS to locate the senior’s position. It also includes an SOS button to be pressed by the senior if necessary. This will immediately establish a connection to their family member. It has a built-in GSM card, so it is actually a little phone to get in touch immediately.
Have you managed to provide this system development with human resources within Slovakia?
We also have subsidiaries in Canada, the Czech Republic and the Balkans, but the core and most of the research and development has been happening in Slovakia, where we run three facilities. MONSE makes up only a small part of our development. We are engaged in the development of technologies to support crisis management. Outside Slovakia, we work for global organizations of military and humanitarian orientation; in Slovakia, it is mostly about ministries such as Interior, Defence or Finance. The innovations and quality of our products is what makes us distinct from our competitors. Our company has passed many international audits and holds certificates in the field of quality management, safety, project management and services. Our products meet the US military standards with the highest quality requirements.