It's often true that the innovation behind creating new technologies is spurred due to the existence of some problem. For Deepak Arora, chief executive officer of Hartland-based startup Wearable Technologies Inc., the idea behind his wearable monitoring device – which is a finalist in the 2022 Wisconsin Innovation Awards – came after he experienced every parent’s worst nightmare.
A complete accident led to his two-year-old daughter, Mahi, wandering out of their family home and falling into a nearby retention pond in 2020.
“By the time we could find her, it was five minutes too late,” Arora said. “I couldn’t wrap my head around how something like this could happen and our research showed that there’s nothing out there on the market that can protect against this. We have a number of fitness devices to monitor our fitness levels, but nothing that protects us against hazards and unintentional injuries.”
To make sure no other family would have to experience such a loss, he immediately began thinking of ways a wearable device could be used to prevent similar accidents. As part of his research, he found that over 5.6 million kids worldwide do not make it to their fifth birthday due to accidents. The statistics for elderly people in between the ages of 80-85 showed a similar trend.
[caption id="attachment_553959" align="alignleft" width="265"] Deepak Arora's daughter Mahi. Her death in 2020 prompted the development of the Wearable Technologies device.[/caption]
“One of the main reasons, we believe, that those numbers are so high is because parents are as naïve as we were and believe that they can watch their kids on their own, but all it takes is a few seconds and the next thing you know, you are too late. Think of it as driving a car without the airbags. Those airbags are there to protect you if something were to happen. We believe our device and technology is the same way, it will act as a protective layer for your loved ones,” Arora said.
Arora has created a wearable device, that can be worn on the wrist like a watch or attached securely to different articles of clothing, that monitors several key pieces of information that can help predict potential hazards or emergency situations.
The current version of the device monitors which direction you are moving, whether you have fallen or flipped over, your heart rate and oxygen levels, and the temperature/humidity around you. There’s also a pressure sensor to help users figure out whether a fall has happened on a hard surface or into water.
There are three key components to the device, first being the detection component that can let you know when the person being monitored has gone outside of their set boundaries. There is also a predictive modeling component. Users can mark possible hazards in the area, let’s say a busy roadway, and the device can provide a real time estimate as to when the person being monitored will reach that hazard. The last component provides an enhanced level of protection, by sending out different levels of alerts. Up to five people can receive notifications from the device at a time.
[caption id="attachment_553969" align="alignleft" width="485"] A Wearable Technologies device can allow a parent to keep tabs on their children via a series of different monitoring components.[/caption]
“The bottom line is we’re trying to build awareness and educate others. People don’t realize that this can happen to them until it happens. We built our house in the most secured cul-de-sac that you could imagine, and even then it happened,” Arora said.
He was able to start building out his prototype in late 2020, with the initial help of angel investors, including Jeff Horwath of Jeff Horwath Family Builders. Horwath built the Arora family home and became involved in the company after Mahi’s accident. He is co-founder and chairman of Wearable Technologies.
“Our device has so many special functions including hazard-mapping, geo-fencing and a variety of wearable options. But it’s the predictive capability and hands-free nature of our product that really sets us apart,” Horwath said.
He addressed one other parent concern – data privacy, especially data involving a person’s young child. Any personal data stored on a Wearable Technologies device is secured. To prevent anyone from hacking into one of the devices, the Wearable Technologies team chose to use a processor with a crypto-level security system built in at the hardware level. All data that goes in or out of the device is encrypted. The devices will also be compliant with HIPAA and COPPA privacy protection rules.
Arora said the goal is to be done with beta testing by this fall and to fine tune any problems in quarter four. The actual product should launch in the first half of 2023. While Arora and Horwath declined to comment on any specifics related to how much outside funding has been received thus far, SEC filings show that Wearable Technologies has raised at least $755,000. The company has also been named as a Qualified New Business Venture by WEDC, meaning its investors can be eligible for a tax credit.
As the company continues to grow, Arora will be focused on getting his device market-ready. Later on, second and third generations of the device will be designed with additional features. Branching into other markets, such as hospital settings and living communities for the elderly, are also on the horizon for the company.