“Making people feel safe at home – at any age”

Caru wants older people to live longer and happier at home. (Symbol)

Living longer and more securely at home, remaining independent and happy – according to Susanne Dröscher and her team, elderly people should be able to do just that.

In our society, people tend to live longer and longer – many of them in single households. As people get older, their mobility gets reduced and oftentimes they cannot trust their physical abilities anymore. A third of all people older than 65 fall at least once a year. Around 20 percent of those falls require urgent medical attention. If a fall happens at home, support needs to be accessible, fast and uncomplicated.

Various emergency systems are available that older people can use to call their relatives or an ambulance. They are either a simple panic button worn at the body or a complex sensor network distributed in the living space. The latter detects abnormal situations only after a certain latency period and requires maintenance. The former allows to inform help instantaneously but requires the person to push a button and is oftentimes perceived as stigmatizing.

A startup called «caru» wants to circumvent these issues. The company, with incorporation planned for the end of this year, wants to bring a new feel to emergency devices. “caru realizes if something is wrong like a flatmate would do”, they depict the functionality.

How it works:

The device is placed in the living space like a table lamp. It is not worn at the body and installation as well as handling are simple. It records several environmental parameters to ensure the general wellbeing of the resident. Its core functionality, however, is the detection and classification of sounds that elderly people “naturally” make in situations that require immediate help. Key words like “help” trigger an alarm and then initiate contact with a pre-assigned list of people.

The Future

At the moment, Susanne and her team, consisting of 5 co-workers, are finalizing a prototype and are filling the algorithm’s “memory” with data. The design of the device is functional but elegant, allowing it to satisfy both quality, security and lifestyle requirements. As soon as the prototype is ready, the team plans to start the testing phase with potential customers. Parallel to that, investors will be acquired, as the funding of the project has been completely private up until now. In 2018, the beta phase should start, preferably in retirement homes, so that the device can be tested in multiple apartments under comparable conditions.

After the beta phase, the device should enter the consumer market. Demand for a device like this has not been satisfied, so there is a good chance for the company to succeed. Good luck!

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