Erik Wernevi is the co-founder and CEO of Nordic Technology Group, a company that has developed software using 3-D motion sensors to alert caregivers to changes in patients’ behavior and was recently named the top winner in the 2014 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
Wernevi and Sheldon Apsell, the company’s vice president of product development, spoke with Providence Business News about the technology they have developed and where Nordic is headed next.
PBN: How does Nordic’s 3-D motion sensor technology alert caregivers to a change in their patients’ behaviors? Is it a device worn on a patient, or a system installed in their home or residence?
WERNEVI and APSELL: We have designed a service that fits with an older person’s life style. How it works is that when our software detects a deviation, such as a fall, an alert is sent to the appropriate caregiver. So no need to press an alarm button.
The Nordic Technology Group team has been behind the technologies for Lojack and Lifeline, and have many years of software development, health IT, wireless and industrial design experience. Most existing technologies require the wearer to press a button in the case of an emergency. But in many situations, the user is unable, unwilling - or unaware of the need - to summon help. Our technology is designed for just these scenarios. It is like having someone who knows you looking out for you, at all times - giving caregivers and family peace of mind.”
PBN: How does Nordic Technology Group deal with privacy?
WERNEVI: Privacy is a very important question for us. We have done extensive research to find how best to design our service to protect privacy. Our system does not require the user to wear any intrusive devices and there are no cameras. Alerts are only sent to the designated caregivers. The person that is to be protected can simply go about their day as normal without having to change any of their usual routines.
PBN: How did you and your co-founder, Josh Napoli, become interested in developing technology for this area of health care?
WERNEVI: Like many people, I live far away from my aging parents. I got the idea for our service after a serious fall in my family. As Josh and I explored the problem more, we realized that many people have experienced incidents where a loved one has not been helped by existing technologies. With our unique sensors and software, we are able to detect more urgent health problems, giving people the freedom to live where they want to live.
PBN: How will your ongoing partnerships with two senior housing communities in Rhode Island help advance Nordic’s technology and business, and what other collaborations do you have planned going forward?
WERNEVI: Our partnerships with leading senior housing institutions in Rhode Island have been a great help for us. It is great for us that they have tested our smart health monitoring and are very excited about its potential. They tell us that with our service residents can get help faster. Their feedback has helped us improve our service. And, the fact that they are local makes it so much easier to work closely together, which is very important for us at this stage of our development. We are also collaborating with Rhode Island Hospital on Alzheimer’s research and with researchers at Brown University on fall prevention with the goal to help aging people stay independent.
PBN: What does winning the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition represent for your company, and what’s your next step?
WERNEVI: Winning the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition is a big boost for us that will accelerate the launch of our first commercial product. It will help get us to the next stage where we can raise the additional funding required to realize our vision of helping millions of Americans in the future to maintain independent and active live. We have a number of assisted living community customers that would like to test our breakthrough technology. Others interested in our first product launch can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.