Innovative companies are working hard to tackle common problems faced by the silver generation, but how do they bring their ‘age tech’ products to market? In the second part of this series, Gillian Thornton spoke to three more entrepreneurs.
Founder: Moti Bari Barmherzig
‘TV is nice to have, but interactive TV is a must-have for the elderly.’ That is the firm belief of Moti Bari Barmherzig who, almost 25 years ago, launched the world’s first personal alarm after his elderly father had a fall at home and couldn’t summon help. Now Moti and his team of experts are on the brink of launching Cheer TV, a simple device that turns any television into an interactive platform opening up a wide range of new horizons for the silver market.
‘On our platform, most of the content creators will be the retirees themselves,’ explains Surrey-based Moti. ‘We can help anybody to load up content, whether they want to deliver a one-hour hobby lecture, a weekly show, or an information bulletin. They can start an interactive book club, a breakfast club, or meet online for afternoon tea. The possibilities are huge.’
Moti believes that whilst content is king, the community is queen. One will not work without the other. And after initial trials with a small group of Royal Navy personnel, he plans to launch Cheer TV with a group of RN veterans this winter, before rolling it out nationally and, eventually, internationally.
‘We are already in talks with potential partners in two European countries who would produce content in their own language for their specific audience,’ explains Moti who has 35 years of working in wellbeing services for the elderly, especially anything that brings them purpose and enables them to enjoy longer, more fulfilled lives.
‘We will be marketing Cheer TV B2B, via strategic organisations who may want to have their own TV channel that will give their users the chance to make new friends and hobbies via our system, as well as to interact with existing friends and family. The opportunities, I believe, are endless.’
EASYPHONE – connecting families across the world
Founder: Michael Kerstein
Bringing a product to market on a minimal budget is always a challenge but especially when you are a solopreneur like Michael Kerstein, Director of Easyphone. Having worked in the mobile phone business since the early days of the industry, Michael was inspired five years ago to create Easyphone when his father was in a care home.
‘Dad’s eyesight was weak and he found smartphones too complicated, so he had real trouble calling friends and family,’ explains Michael. ‘We also live in an age when we increasingly need phone apps in our daily lives, whether for parking the car, banking, shopping, or accessing our NHS records.’
So along with his team of app developers, Michael designed a range of easy-to-use mobiles with large buttons, clear displays, and simple menus.
‘Our phones are sold contract-free and include features like an SOS button, GPS location, volume boost and built-in magnifier, as well as Whats App so customers can make free calls and use the phone abroad. We have models to suit all levels of dexterity, vision, and technical ability, whether you want access to the internet or just to make calls to Favourite contacts.’
Sales come primarily through Easyphone’s own website and through Amazon, driven by internet Search engines and through word-of-mouth recommendation, resulting in 10,000 sales in the first five years.
‘The phones are easy to set up but we still offer a 24/7 support service in case a customer is truly flummoxed,’ says Michael. ‘They can send it to us and we will add their Favourites on speed dial. We have also built in a service button that enables users to book a handyman or carer through a carefully vetted outside company.’
Beyond widening the reach of Easyphone, Michael’s other ambition is to market a range of medical devices that would take blood pressure or blood sugar readings and link back to family members or a GP. ‘Anything in fact that enables people to stay in their own homes for longer,’ he says.
SENTAI – voice-enabled digital care
Founder: Philip Marshman
When Phil Marshman’s dad began losing his independence following the loss of his mother, Phil was immersed into a world of care that he had not anticipated or experienced in the past.
In 2020 Sentai set out on a journey to solve some of the problems Phil had encountered that affect millions of informal carers in the UK. Phil called on expert colleagues to come up with a product that would provide friendly reminders such as when to take medication or expect carers, as well as check on wellbeing. With three main goals, no technology to learn for the older person, keep the family informed of the wellbeing of their older loved one and provide benefits to empower independent living. From that time Sentai was born and has evolved in to a valuable platform being used by care providers and local authorities in some wide-ranging use cases.
‘The name Sentai comes from the Japanese word for guardian, coupled with AI, but “Sent” also evokes sensory technology,’ explains Phil.
Using the power of advanced AI technology, Sentai provides among many day-to-day things, crucial wellbeing insights, companionship, and messaging services between cared-for clients and their carers and the family. Caregiving professionals can monitor clients’ wellbeing around the clock using a combination of AI technology, a series of motion sensors around the house that will trigger reminders or simply show the client is move and the client can respond to how they are feeling or messages by simply talking.
‘Our core business is to help care providers to enhance and extend their services using digital care technology, so people can live independently for longer.’
Having decided to focus their marketing effort on providers of professional care to the older person, Sentai launched its new website in September 2023. Now Phil can see multiple uses for the product in other fields of caring. ‘We get great feedback and it’s lovely to be doing a job with a social purpose that really spurs me to get out of bed in the morning! The world of social care is going through a large transformation, we are delighted to be leading the charge for a brighter, more digitally enables social care sector.
Watch now: Hybrid care: The future of social care
Interviews by Gillian Thornton.