In almost all countries of the world, life expectancy is increasing. This is accompanied by the desire to self-determination to live our life as long as possible. IoCare provides solutions to simplify independent living for elderly people.
Matthias, you are one of the founders of IoCare. Who are your co-founders? Why did you decide to connect and work together?
Leo Xu, co-founder, is located in Shanghai driving forward all activities in China and building up the trusted relationship with Chinese B2B customers. He has start-up experience as well as in mobile and IoT industries.
Leo and I have known each other for more than 16 years. Leo is the China lead to drive Chinese collaborations, from pilots to commercialization.
From own experience we built the idea of providing solutions to simplify independent living for elderly in 2014. After early prototyping we started to pilot the system in Germany, Finland and China to iterate on customer feedback.
What inspired you to start IoCare?
My co-founder and myself were confronted with the remote care issue within the own family. Current solutions on the market were too complex, too intrusive or gave a feeling of stigmatisation. Our relatives had to adapt to a certain technology and this caused that the solutions were refused. This was the starting point to create a solution that is adapting to the user without any kind of user interaction and use it in our own family circle.
What does IoCare exactly? Which products and services provides IoCare?
IoCare is targeting to develop services to simplify independent living for elderly. Our product "RICA" (Relative Interconnected Care) provides a service that improves peace of mind of caregivers and at the same time keeps the independence of the alone living elderly without the user acceptance burden to learn about or adapt to a new technology.
RICA solution is autonomously and continuously self-learning the daily living pattern of the elderly in their home based on sensor technology that remotely aggregates the user's movements. After an initial self learning phase the level of the deviation of the daily routine is continuously condensed into a color message and transmitted via IoT technology to the caregiver site. This color message is then illuminating a lamp (alternatively a mobile app displaying the color code) based on the received color.
There is a constantly growing market for services related to elderly people. Who are your competitors?
Current solutions, like nursing homes or emergency call systems, are focusing on a need for safety but often cannot fulfill the high demand for independence of the elderly. The elderly group that is refusing any kind of current supportive solutions gain highest level of independence but taking a high risk in case of health problems. IoCare is creating a new consumer segment which accepts a medium demand for safety but a high demand for independence.
Our main competitors are: Tunstall, Lively, Just Checking, AnKangTong, XiangJiaBao.
Which advantages do you provide compared with your competitors?
Elderly deny current solutions of our main competitors because of difficulties with handling, inconvenience or change of their habits. IoCare provides a solution where no change of user habits is necessary. Also neither caretaker nor the caregiver has to interact with the given technology. There is no need for configuring any alarm levels or requiring the skillset how to use a smartphone. To respect privacy no video or audio recording is done.
Realizing the most barrier free access to technology is the key to get acceptance from the caretaker user group of age 80+ as well as the female caregiver target user group of age 60+. Especially the not technology affine group of age 60+ that is still reluctant in using smartphones technology was forcing us to rethink user interfaces in a more user-friendly way. RICA enables silver agers to make use of supportive technology in a barrier-free way, which comes from our deep understanding that technology has to be made invisible for elderly users.
How far are you with your product?
We have installed several prototypes (around 60 units). Now we are on the way to transfer the prototype into a product.
[photos show prototypes]
Are you looking for further investments? If yes, what is the most important thing prospective investors should know about your company?
Yes, we are looking for further investment.
Our investors should have domain expertise to support us in bringing the product to the market and help us in scaling e.g. providing a network that supports addressing the aging society.
We are looking for long term investors that have interest to create from a single product a product portfolio around the aging society with its active seniors that want to preserve their independent living as long as possible.
You are now going to Shanghai with DC-HUB. What do you expect from this trip?
Our focus is to scale the already established relationship with B2B customer and turn our prototype into a product. To do this in an efficient way we are looking for partners and investors supporting us to speed up this process.
What are your main goals for the next 12 months?
Turn our prototype into a product and introduce it in the Chinese and German market. Implement the marketing and sales strategy and scale the RICA service.
Thank you for the interview and have a successful trip to Shanghai!