AAL Smart Ageing Challenge Prize Finalists – Ubiquid
Never lose anything again thanks to the internet
Father and son French company that uses the internet of things to connect the belongings of people in retirement homes to the internet – even their teeth – to prevent them getting lost, is shortlisted for a €50,000 Challenge Prize
French company Ubiquid has taken the concept of the internet of things quite literally with its new service designed specifically for retirement homes – even connecting people’s dentures to the world wide web.
The innovative start-up, which was started by a father and son who were concerned about their mother/grandmother in a care home, has devised a system that connects all residents’ belongings to the internet – clothes, hearing aids, walking sticks and even those dentures.
By being able to track exactly where things are through connected sensors, staff and residents are able to ensure that things don’t get lost or mixed up. This provides comfort to residents, who know that all their belongings are safe and can be found in an instant, whilst it also saves time and money in the home with staff not having to look for things or correct errors.
Ubiquid works by fixing RFID tags to objects, meaning they can be identified and localised. Further benefits include ensuring that the correct washing machine programme is used on every item and that things are stored correctly and safely.
The company was founded by Henri Hollier-Larousse and his father Guillaume, alongside IT specialist Jean-Paul Morin. It has recently been joined by another family member, another of Guillaume’s sons Thierry.
“When our grandmother was first in a home, it was soon very obvious that there was a problem with residents loosing clothing and things going missing in the wash or just being hard to find,” explains Thierry.
“Henri had a word with the staff and the residents and soon came up with the RFID solution, which enabled everything to be followed through personalised online dashboards for each resident.
“We are now in 25 homes in France and not only are the residents all very happy, staff also benefit by being able to sort or check things in half the time and managers are able to keep track of all the work being done.”
Now Ubiquid has been shortlisted for the first ever Active and Assisted Living (AAL) Challenge Prize, a major European prize which is awarding €50,000 for the best product or idea that uses internet connectivity or the Internet of Things (IoT) to empower older adults to achieve the quality of life to which they aspire, socially and independently.
Fifteen entrants from a healthy total of 200 were shortlisted for the prize and these finalists have already attended a special Innovation Academy in Brussels in July, where their ideas were further scrutinised by the judges and where they received advice on how these ideas can be further commercialised for what is a massively growing market.
“Getting this far in this Challenge Prize has been a great honour for us,” says Thierry. “Winning will be even better as we would be able to use the prize to invest in developing Ubiquid further and launching an enhanced access control system that will use the data generated by the connected clothing being worn by residents to ensure their comfort and safety.
“This is a great opportunity to enhance what we have already done – and that has exceeded our expectations – and provide a service that will help keep older people safe in the home by allowing carers to know where they are and if they need help.
“The €50,000 prize money would be a huge help in developing this system and would help us expand into more homes with a product that we know the residents love and that the staff find extremely useful.”
The winner of the AAL Challenge Prize will be announced at the annual AAL Forum, which this year takes place in St Gallen, Switzerland on September 26-28.
Karin Weiss, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Grants at the AGE Foundation and one of the competition judges, said: “We were delighted by the variety of entries we received. We saw many interesting solutions and were particularly impressed by the approach taken to bridging the gap between the older and younger generations, as well as the approach to stabilising the quality of life at home for older people.
“The challenge now is to identify a winner that is exciting, commercially viable and close to the edge of the market,” she adds. “We want to see the prize being used to connect this potential with investors, refining the prototypes and creating impetus to get the solution to market.”
A huge amount of work is being done in France in the sector and, with innovators like Ubiquid already engaged in commercialising their solution designed to increase the quality of life for older people, hopes are high that this simple idea will pick up the top prize when it is announced at the AAL Forum in September.