BeClose: Wireless Home Monitoring for Seniors, Peace of Mind for Caregivers
BeClose uses discreet wireless sensors to track in-home routines and activities of seniors who choose to age at home. The sensors transmit any discrepancies or worrisome changes in behavior to caregivers and providers. Mark Hanson, Co-Founder and the Head of Technology and Product at BeClose, designed the system to blend into the background of a home. “If our system is working the way we intended it to, you should never perceive that it is actually there. You shouldn’t have to check in with it, or monitor it. If it is designed well you almost don’t notice it until you need it.” Mark continues, “We put care and thought into minimizing burden on the care recipient. We don’t want the recipient to change their daily routine, which is why the sensors disappear into the living arrangement.” For the caregiver, BeClose takes hundreds of data points and boils them down into action items. “We apply a set of artificial intelligence routines to give concise information to the caregiver – is today a good day or a bad day, and should I be concerned? We don’t want the caregiver to be a data analyst.”
When I ask about new entrants to the space (companies like Lively and Evermind), Mark responds, “Everyone in the industry has a slightly different approach on products in this space. Everyone is carving out a specific use case. We like to say that technology doesn’t replace caregiving, but it can provide an added layer of security and make caregiving more appropriate.” BeClose does come with a choice of emergency buttons – one stationary and one wearable, but it’s really the proprietary software and data analytics of the hidden sensors that sets it apart.
BeClose also has the widest variety of sensors on the market, many of which they don’t advertise online because they are so specific. Typical ones include a bed sensor, chair sensor, door/contact sensor, water sensor (for events like basement floods and showering behaviors), motion sensors, restroom use sensor, and pillbox contact sensors. Users who have been recently hospitalized can get a small anti-slip mat that can be placed at the edge of the toilet that can track early UTIs before it becomes a big problem.
Mark says typically 5 or 6 sensors gives pretty good coverage of daily activities in a house. A bed sensor can detect when someone is getting in and out of bed, at what frequency and at what time. Door sensors are also popular, especially if the parent has dementia. In one use case of the door sensor, Mark tells a story where a caregiver saw that his father was having a day and night reversal. “The cabinet with cereal had a sensor on it and cereal was being eaten at night versus during the day.”
In addition to in-home monitoring, BeClose has a community edition that addresses multiple rooms and people in community based living settings who are monitored by the same core staff. “You put the tech into a smaller room and that data flows into a centralized cloud based dashboard where caregivers can see all data. This helps them better manage and prioritize care.”
BeClose is also working with Alarm.com. Since Alarm.com provides a home alarm installation service, the partnership allows installers to provide concierge BeClose installation. This collaboration breaks a barrier that many sensor companies face. As Mark describes, “A lot of people might feel that getting into this type of technology is intimidating, but our partnership with Alarm.com has alleviated much of this. BeClose is a direct to consumer product – you plug in the bay station and all the sensors have sticky tape so it’s really simple. But now that we are leveraging Alarm.com’s huge nationwide installation network, we’ve really removed all barriers of trying the system. We want to show people just how easy it is to use and how highly practical and useful our technology is to the care recipient and caregiver.”