mCareWatch adds 3G version, SmartSole to wearables portfolio
mCareWatch will launch a new 3G version of its SOS Mobile Watch at the CeBIT exhibition in Sydney this week as well as unveil the new GPS SmartSole device that the company now has exclusive distribution rights for in Australia.
The move signals an expansion of the Sydney company from a specialist in mobile personal emergency response products into the wider mobile health field, with plans to use its core product as a wireless hub and integrate with Bluetooth-enabled health devices like blood pressure monitors.
The company was set up by brothers Peter Apostolopoulos and Paul Apostolis after their father had a stroke while driving and they could not find a suitable device that would allow families and carers to not only track their loved ones but also to work as a personal emergency alarm.
Emergency pendants have long dominated this area but they have a few drawbacks, so the brothers came up with their own product in 2013, the SOS Mobile Watch (SMW13). This device looks like and is a watch, but also functions as a mobile phone, a GPS tracking device and a medical alert system.
Later that year the company released a monitoring and support system for the watch called ConnectiveCare, aimed at residential aged care and independent living facilities. It now numbers Anglican Retirement Villages (ARV) and Bankstown City Aged Care as clients.
To be fully supportive for an older person living at home alone, however, the watch had to be water-resistant, so in June last year mCareWatch launched a waterproof version called SMW14, which also included WiFi and GSM capabilities as well as GPS to make it easier to locate the person.
The watch comes with a SIM card for emergency calls and a data plan, along with a carer's dashboard and mobile app and the ability to set medication reminders. It works as a two-way communication device but carers are also able to initiate a call directly to the watch that does not require the wearer to press a button to answer it.
mCareWatch is now set to launch a 3G version (SWM15) at CeBIT to take into account Telstra's plans to switch off its 2G network at the end of next year. And while there are no big changes to the main product set, mCareWatch is planning to expand its horizons to take in Bluetooth peripherals and other mobile devices to its portfolio.
It has also signed a contract with a major monitoring service provider that will be selling the watch as part of its product set, Mr Apostolopoulos said.
He said the waterproof version had seen very quick take-up in the market and the company was now selling it throughout the country. While there are a number of functions that can be added to the basic model, the key to the product is that it can be used simply as a medical or elderly alarm, he said.
“We wanted to try and keep it really simple for the wearers because sometimes the wearers get confused with technology, so we say to people that it tells the time, you press the SOS button when it's an emergency, and people can call you whenever they want."
Mr Apostolopoulos estimates that consumer sales take up 70 per cent of the business and organisations 30 per cent, but he expects this to grow with the 3G capability of the latest version. “We've got quite a large number of service providers now integrating the watch into their call centre platforms.”
While the watch is perfect for keeping track of most people with dementia, for some clients it is not suitable as they have been attempting to take it off, so mCareWatch has partnered with a US company to bring out its GPS SmartSole product.
“It's basically a GPS device that sits in the shoe and you can track the individual wearer,” Mr Apostolopoulos said. “It can fit in most shoes, which is why it's called SmartSole, it's water-resistant and it's trackable through our monitoring portal or an app.
“You can locate it on demand, you can check the status of the battery life and it has wireless inductive charging as well. It is for those people that don't have that cognitive ability to answer a watch or work a watch, so you can monitor those clients as well. We've trialled it with Alzheimer's and dementia clients, autism, traumatic brain injury clients – anyone with a reduced cognitive ability.”
The company is also expanding to take in other wearable technologies as they come on to the market, with the 3G version able to integrate with Bluetooth devices.
“In the past SOS Mobile Watch was all about mobile personal emergency response but now we are taking it into more of the mobile health area, so we will be integrating it into all of those peripheral mobile health devices,” Mr Apostolopoulos said.
“Once it becomes a wireless hub, you can connect all of these various peripheral devices via Bluetooth. That will be bundled and released later this year as well.”
mCareWatch will be exhibiting at the CeBIT expo at Sydney Olympic Park this week.
Posted in Aged Care