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Fall Detector for the Elder

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EU funding helps bring fall detector to market

A European start-up is currently commercialising an innovative ICT-based portable fall detector for the elderly, designed to facilitate independent living and improve quality of life. The concept was developed and trialled through the highly successful EU-funded FATE project.

Digital Economy

‘The key objective throughout this project was to bring to market an innovative new product or competitive service that would truly benefit end users,’ explains project coordinator Joan Cabestany from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Spain. ‘The pilot tests we ran in three countries – Spain, Italy and Ireland - demonstrated the effectiveness of our solution, and this provided us with enough confidence to translate the prototype into a commercial product.’ Bringing innovations to market Since completion of the project in May 2015, a spin-off company - Sense4Care - has sought to bring FATE’s positive results to market, based on a use and exploitation rights transfer agreement with the UPC. The company’s Angel4 detector is a standalone device that can be worn on a belt, with all user/device interactions carried out through a clever and simple app for Android smartphones. ‘The detector currently being commercialised is an evolution of the sensor that we used and tested in FATE,’ explains Cabestany. ‘The main difference between the current device and the prototype used in FATE is the simplified user interface. The feedback we received from users participating in the pilots enabled us to fine tune this interface in order to keep it as simple as possible.’ The device works without applying telecare service charges, and allows direct communication with the user's caregiver or relatives through standard mobile phones. The detector runs a complex and specific algorithm to accurately detect when a fall occurs, before automatically sending an alarm message and/or initiating a phone call in the event of a fall and providing geolicalisation data when the user is outdoors. ‘A key advantage is that there is no mandatory fee for a telecare service,’ says Cabestany. ‘Angel4 can also be used to keep family members informed of a fall, with a relative receiving a mobile phone call or message when the person wearing Angel4 has an accident.’ Ultimately though, Cabestany says that the main added value of the sensor - and what he believes is its unique selling point - is that the embedded algorithm is capable of detecting falls with incredible accuracy and with a very low false positive ratio. In fact, the effectiveness is higher than 95 %. The product is currently being sold in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, along with Canada, Guatemala, Hong Kong and Switzerland. Commercial knowhow Cabestany credits the three year FATE project as making the Angel4 product possible in other ways as well. ‘One of the key lessons learnt from FATE was the necessity of a user-driven approach in developing a new service or product,’ he says. ‘This is the only way to cover important aspects as usability and acceptance, and to enable necessary fine tuning and improvements to the final product. The FATE project has been instrumental in opening new market opportunities in the healthcare sector, and helping us to develop sustainable solutions for future elder generations.’ Next steps will be in the direction of identifying new product uses and identifying new end users. ‘Sense4Care is currently working on defining a new roadmap to further improve Angel4, together with a portfolio of new technological offers,’ adds Cabestany.


FATE, Sense4Care, Angel4, fall prevention, telecare service charges, geolocalisation date, independent living

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