When we [Pierre-Yves Champagne and Jean Guérin, the two founders of Co-Assist] finished engineering school, we wanted to innovate for the elderly. After much research over a few years, we understood that falls play a crucial role in the life of an elderly person, because it is the starting point of fragility, leading to dependence. After a fall, the main reason for lost autonomy is not the collision itself, but the waiting time on the ground. The longer it is, the greater the loss of autonomy will be.
Therefore, to limit the loss of autonomy, we wanted to create a fall detector that could alert relatives to help the elderly person get up after a fall. This fall detector should:
- Be automatic, as it should trigger an alert even if the user loses consciousness after their fall.
- Integrate a push button, if they feel like they might faint but do not fall.
- Work wherever the person is, i.e. inside their home, outside in the garden, or in the street, because a fall can occur anywhere.
- Have a long battery life, because the elderly have difficulty learning new habits like charging a device, and because they are not secure while their device is charging,.
- Be easily acceptable by all and so in particular be small and not designed for disabled people only.
At that time, in 2014, we did not know anything about machine-to-machine communications networks, and we started to look for technological solutions that would fit our specifications.
We first looked at walkie-talkie technology, but the limited area of use – a few kilometers away from home – did not match our specifications (working everywhere). Moreover, they needed long antennas to communicate, which was incompatible with our need for a small sensor.
Then, we investigated mobile 2G and 3G networks; they communicated everywhere, but had a real drawback, which was energy consumption incompatible with the long battery life requirement.
Then we discovered Sigfox. Sigfox’s properties were a perfect match with our autonomy issue, while maintaining the ability to launch an alert everywhere. Furthermore, antennas could be integrated in a small device.
An innovative alert watch, seeking partners worldwide
After several months we designed the Co-assist solution.
Co-assist is a sober and elegant watch, displaying time through an e-ink screen. With a push button, elderly people can launch an alert. It also automatically detects falls and removal from the wrist. And it integrates GPS to geolocate the alert as well as lost people (especially relevant for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease).
But most of all, Co-assist is connected to the Sigfox network. Therefore, an alert can be triggered indoors or outdoors, and the battery life is several months long, whereas competitors only achieve a few days of autonomy.
Since its incorporation in 2015, we have successfully proved the Co-assist concept in two nursing homes of Le Noble Age Group and are now industrializing the watch for release in late 2016. It aims to keep people self-sufficient, initially at home and then in nursing homes.
We are looking for partners wherever Sigfox network reaches, to be included into their commercial offer. Co-assist’s solution can be especially relevant for insurers who want to protect their elderly customers, for home care service providers who want their customers to be at home for as long as possible, and for nursing homes that want to provide more secure service.
- 54 rue Molière, 94200 Ivry-sur-Seine, France
- Tel : + 33 1 76 28 00 27
- Twitter: @Co_assist