Decorte Future Industries has won the UK's Business-led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption competition in response to Covid-19, obtaining the maximum grant to fund final R&D and trials of our intelligent clothing in care homes, using our core tech to help continuously monitor and empower the elderly and vulnerable.
Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, let us know they were astounded to receive over 8600 applications, their highest number ever – in fact, they say, this is more than all competitions in the 19/20 financial year put together. This was likely the most competitive Innovate UK grant in their history.
Decorte Future Industries, officially launched in August 2019, builds body-adaptive (always-fitting) intelligent clothing that allows single-platform remote monitoring of multimodal biometrics (vitals, including body-temperature, coughing) of the wearer. It further enhances the mobility of the user by allowing them to employ the same embedded hardware to remotely control devices through voice, gesture and touch commands, e.g. through touching their sleeve, using existing third-party AI.
Just before COVID19 hit the UK, the company started exploring the Care sector, aided by its EEN-awarded advisor, now Head-of-Innovation for a UK care home chain, and an ex-CEO & Founder of a Care and Assisted Living Home, previously manager of an international Care Home chain, who has also invested in the company. The CEO of DFI grew up in the Care Home sector, giving additional insight. This committee realised, as did Innovate UK and the UK government, that DFI's tech had an unparalleled potential for the care sector as a single wearable platform for data-gathering and capacity-enhancement, offering an all-in-one and single-cost solution that:
Just before the crisis started in late March 2020, DFI was invited by Barclays AI Eagle Labs, which recognised the disruptive potential of the tech, to talk on how its tech was set to transform Human Health.
In response to COVID19, the Innovate UK project now allows DFI to supercharge existing R&D to build and deploy, as swiftly as possible, the final version of its tech, to allow remote monitoring of the elderly and vulnerable during the crisis. Lives are being actively lost due to the lack of technologies enabling comprehensive 24/7 monitoring of vulnerables in care, and this project set out to combat that.
Our Innovate UK project is a 6-month trial process, to take place in Care Homes, to test efficiency, effectiveness of, as well as response of residents to such biometric monitoring and enhanced mobility through intelligent clothing, at no cost to the Care Home.
In a recent SEHTA survey investigating the lack of tech in care, care home administrators and authorities responsible for over 2 million individuals "all [...] seemed to agree that the ideal solution is a single platform into which all stakeholders, sensors and individual devices can feed and access data, and which records and manages everything in a single environment." Intelligent clothing, covering the whole body, renders such a centralised gathering, sending and AI-automated analysis of resident data possible for the first time.
By making the process of monitoring the elderly and vulnerable in care and elsewhere much more efficient and effective, moving away from physical interactions that take place only occasionally at specified time intervals (often failing to provide the swift response needed in emergencies such as caused by COVID19, leading to lost lives) to tech-enabled 24/7 remote care, one can save lives while simultaneously reducing costs for Care Homes.
Successful use of our intelligent clothing technology would provide a much more responsive and holistic companion to physical monitoring and triage by nurses, carers, NHS staff, or individuals themselves (self-monitoring), allowing algorithms to track body temperature patterns and coughing, using the same criteria as the NHS call centres or staff to flag worrying patterns and to suggest when medical help may need to be sought, or is critical. This will seriously alleviate pressure on nurses, care workers and other staff.
Introducing intelligent clothing that monitors the wearer's biometrics is clearly an innovative and ambitious project - only possible because of our existing patent-pending, lightweight, low-cost exoskeleton allowing such clothing to fit any body-shape or size.
We have significant technological support from experts (including the Director of Engineering at Raspberry Pi, the UK's fastest growing computer company, as well as team members associated with various departments of the University of Cambridge), and have been building this tech for 2 years (since April 2018, before even formal incorporation) in conversation with the Defence and consumer sectors. Our clothing would not be a medical device, and thus able to be deployed much more quickly, as it does not diagnose or treat, instead being a typical wearable, offering a 24/7 overview and additional protection alongside physical third-party- or self-monitoring, especially during those intervals when no monitoring is normally taking place.
The nature of the tech also means that our work can, by definition, be done remotely, with clothing sent to care homes, data processed remotely by the company, and displayed on screens in the care home for care home staff.
At present care homes do not have the resources to continuously monitor residents' health and vitals. Checkups are infrequent, with long intervals, and often rely on simple visual recognition by staff of residents in distress. Care home staff - particularly in homes without nursing - are not routinely required to take observations on residents (British Geriatrics Society). In case of sudden-onset or rapidly worsening conditions like COVID19, critical rapid response often comes much too late.
Lack of continuous monitoring also means that patterns are hard to establish for staff, and the wrong action may be taken: care residents are "some of the most complex patients in primary care, with a high rate of unplanned hospital transfer, over half of which may be avoidable" (Barker et al. 2020, in Age and Ageing 49, 142). This puts unnecessary additional strain on staff/homes and the NHS.
Trials of the NHS-NEWS' vitals-monitoring system in care homes are associated with a 35% reduction in GP visits, 71% in hospital admissions and 33% in emergency admissions. However, "measurement of vital signs is not part of daily work for most staff and may represent a time-consuming, new and potentially challenging task" (Ibid.).
Individual devices for each metric further lead to scaling costs unsustainable in an already-struggling sector (see Telegraph, 14/04/2020); consistent monitoring thus remains absent (even with COVID19), despite tremendous advantages. Since April 2018, DFI has been designing intelligent clothing as a mobile IoT platform for the human body, to continuously and remotely gather real-time biometric data, further enhancing wearer-mobility by allowing remote control of devices through clothing. This tech provides a single-cost Software/Shirt-as-a-Service platform that enables continuous monitoring in Care Homes, resulting in significantly improved care, decreased nurse/staff time and hospitalisation/care costs, further enabling immediate critical response. Long-term data-gathering enables pattern-analysis, using existing third-party algorithms.
Through our patent-pending non-intrusive exoskeleton, allowing garments to adapt to all body-shapes (assuring skin-contact for accurate readings and controls), we have complete Freedom-To-Operate to offer a first non-intrusive alternative to multiple ICU-style devices/sensors, enabling 24/7 monitoring (including voicecontrolled NEWS-style level-of-consciousness). Existing ties with the industry (incl. Hallmark Homes' incoming Head-of-Innovation) may allow growth from single-home trials to chain-wide, to nation-wide.
The £16.5bn-sector, with around 426k residents, is unprepared for the ageing population; demand will outstrip supply by 2022. Unavoidable shifts to home/remote-care means demand for telehealth will explode, beyond COVID19- distancing.
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