Tea and Technology: A conversation with Aloe Care: A new voice-first, no-hands solution for keeping people safely at home

Author's note: Being based in Australia for the time being I find that I end up speaking to people in the US and Europe either early morning (tea time) or late evening (wine time). So I thought I’d make this an occasional series and host conversations with tech innovators, this one with a cup of tea. Video of the discussion here. Enjoy!  - SJ

Aloe Care is an ambitious new entrant to the agetech space, seeking to address the important and as yet unresolved challenge of keeping someone living safely and independently for longer. Co-founder and CEO Ray Spoljaric, like many entrepreneurs in the space, wanted to use his tech and business background to help his parents; Ray was feeling squeezed since he lives 100+ miles away, has no siblings, and three young children of his own. Together with a couple of tech-minded colleagues, he spent 18 months in development and launched his product in January 2020. Aloe Care is sold via home care companies and resellers, as well as direct to consumers. 

The platform consists of a voice-centric communications hub and set of movement sensors, with an integrated app for family and professional caregivers and APIs. It’s an evolution of the PERS model (much in need of a refresh), using wall-mounted sensors that monitor movement, it calls either the family OR an emergency call center, and enables communication between the older adult and their family and caregivers (together with note sharing). It includes a ‘Check In’ feature that allows trusted contacts to make a call to the hub and for it to auto-answer. In addition the hub also monitors temperature and air quality. In this discussion (video here) Ray and I cover: 

  • His journey and motivation to starting the company. 

  • The problems he’s working on, in particular the need to prioritise safety, reduce stress for family caregivers (45m of the 50m caregivers in the USA, many of whom see their life expectancy decline), and the need to address the needs of those with visibility or hearing challenges.

  • The features of the platform, which are based on a hub and wearable sensors in the home, an app for family and professional caregivers and APIs to connect with partners (such as vital sign monitoring and smoke alarm). 

  • The technology includes Wifi, 4G, Bluetooth and Zigbee as well as APIs to share data with other parties. A new ‘Essentials’ bundle will be used out of the box with 4G and a pendant, for people to install themselves.

  • The design decisions they made, for example not using a camera (privacy concerns), not requiring wearables, the use of trigger words, clear and loud volume, and a strong consumer design ethos (uncommon among healthcare products)

  • The customers are currently in-home care companies who are positioning this as a “pre-care” product, i.e. building a relationship with people before they’re ready to pay more for in-home caregivers. The service is also sold directly to consumers through aloecare.com. 

  • The business outlook in terms of seeing Google and Amazon as partners rather than competitors, since they’re niche-focused. AloeCare are looking for new partners especially in the in-home care space and though they just raised a funding round last month, are always open to potential investor discussions. 

My take - Ray’s clearly an authentically-driven entrepreneur using his skills, experience and network to attempt to do the right thing. There’s a lot of moving pieces to his solution - a voice technology that’s not powered by Google, Apple or Amazon, hardware with installation, an app requiring engagement from family members and caregivers, and a set of APIs to share data with other partners. But I don’t see any other way than a holistic solution to the complex intractable problem of keeping someone at home longer, so we’ll be watching his progress with interest. Find out more about Aloe Care from their website here, a deep dive and demo of their platform here. The Collective members can view his profile and more information here.