How technology can be deployed to assist the aged and their families
April 29, 2022
TORONTO – The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)’s fourth annual CABHI Summit took place virtually in March. It included more than 50 speakers, more than 60 exhibitors, 20 sponsors, and an audience of more than 800 that tuned in from around the world.
Presentations from Day One highlighted Agetech and the Human Connection, including a five-member panel with:
- Dr. Allison Sekuler, president and chief scientist at CABHI.
- David Lindeman, director, Health Care at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).
- Prof. Alex Mihailidis, scientific director of the AGE-WELL network.
- Sasha Spellman, startup collaboration director, AARP Innovation Labs; and
- Erica Lloyd, general manager, Healthcare and Education, Soul Machines.
Among the technologies that panelists were most excited to see was the concept of “digital people.” This technology was highlighted for its ability to provide one-on-one support, and companionship with empathy. “Although they’re not meant to replace people, they can certainly help people to live their best lives,” said Erica Lloyd.
Sasha Spellman discussed “a telehealth application that provides remote patient monitoring, one that attaches to the wall and predicts and analyzes the health of an individual.” The best technology blends in with its surrounding and works without being noticed by those who benefit from it.
Alex Mihailidis pointed to “innovations like AI, and machine learning. Years ago, these things were unheard of – deep learning and algorithms; but now we can predict complications with diabetes and other health challenges.”
Regarding privacy, the question was asked, “Although many technologies mean well in their design, will people feel like they’re being spied on?” It is an area, panelists agreed, that must be considered and treated with care.
When it comes to the use of technology, to create effective solutions, Sasha Spellman emphasized the concept of “test and validate – focus on everyday people, and don’t lose sight of the end user (50+ demographic).”
Alex Mihailidis noted the cultural details that must be addressed, emphasizing that technology doesn’t work the same way in every location. “In Northern cultures, for example, you can’t just build the technology; you have to understand the users, the cultures and the [specific needs of the] aging population.”
Erica Lloyd commented on the development of Digital People, adding to the cultural theme. “If the mechanism looks and sounds like the end-user (black, Asian, indigenous, Caucasian), they’ll feel more comfortable in using it.”
The panelists said that technology must not be used without providing empathy for people. When used effectively, technology can also give us time with loved ones. Alex Mihailidis said, “Technologies are adapting, allowing us to stay in control of our own health and how we want to age.”
Regarding the future of aging and technology, panel members agreed that we need to be empathetic. “Treat patients like people; understand what is going to be needed and give older adults choice so they can live how they wish to live.”
The Summit’s second day was geared toward innovators, companies, and investors in the longevity sector, on the theme of The Longevity Economy: Investing in an Aging World.
The highlight of the day was the Summit’s flagship event: the annual pitch competition. This year CABHI hosted the longevity sector’s largest combined pitch competition, with a pool of more than $2 million up for grabs.
The event was made possible through a collaborative partnership funded by CABHI, the Ontario Brain Institute, Innovacorp, and Clearco.
The winners and finalists were:
- Ontario Brain Institute NERVE Program People’s Choice Award winner (prize of $5,000 in product development services from OBI): NerveX Neurotechnologies
- CABHI MC2 Capital Pitch Competition People’s Choice Award winner (prize of $1,000, sponsored by AGE-WELL): SenSights.AI
- CABHI MC2 Capital Pitch Competition finalists (currently going through a due diligence process to vie for placement in CABHI’s MC2 Capital Program, in partnership with National Bank), include the following:
- Careteam Technologies
- Curv Health
- Hyivy Health
- iGuard Home Solutions
- Perceiv AI
Since its inception, CABHI has helped companies acquire customers, grow revenues, expand sales pipelines, incorporate in new jurisdictions, and obtain carry-on investments (including seed, series A, and debentures).
To date, CABHI innovators and companies have secured $407 million in carry-on investments and more than 50% of CABHI companies have received follow-on funding.
CABHI alumni include digital physical therapy provider Sword Health, which recently attained unicorn status (valued at $2 billion); virtual care platform Akira Health, acquired by TELUS Health; and neurohealth technology company BrainFx, acquired by Highmark Innovations, Inc.