Atlas5D Snags $3M For Sensor Devices That Balance Data & Privacy

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no one was supposed to check on her for the next three days,” he says.

The woman owned a Philips Lifeline device—an electronic pendant that can summon help if a person falls—but she dislikes wearing it, and it was sitting in a drawer when she fell, Kimmel says.

Her son had configured the Alice device to alert him if she didn’t walk past it by a certain time each day. It sent him an alert that she hadn’t passed by yet that morning, and he called her neighbor to check on her. Fortunately, the neighbor got to her in time, and she has recovered almost completely from the stroke, Kimmel says.

“That had a big impact on us, as you can imagine,” he says.

Still, the company is directing more of its energy toward Echo5D. That’s partly because its three-person team has more expertise in healthcare than in marketing consumer products, Kimmel says. Atlas5D also lacks the big marketing budget and distribution network required to successfully sell directly to consumers, he says.

The competition is also stiffer for Alice than Echo5D, Kimmel says. The Nest Cam allows customers to monitor homes remotely and set up motion-activated alerts. Other companies, such as OnKol and Lively, offer related products specifically aimed at seniors. Lively, for example, sells activity sensors that can be attached to objects like a bathroom door or pillbox, capturing data about behavior patterns and issuing electronic alerts to loved ones if there might be a problem.

There seems to be fewer companies using motion sensors to accumulate health data in the way Atlas5D aims to do with Echo5D, although Wellness says its smart sensors provide data that can help doctors make better decisions in caring for patients.

Alice is currently in beta testing. Atlas5D won’t start selling the product to the public until it finds a large partner willing to handle marketing and distribution, Kimmel says.

One of Atlas5D’s selling points for both its clinical and consumer products is that neither version stores or transmits images or video of the user. Kimmel was adamant that Atlas5D’s products don’t turn into suped-up nanny cams, which he feels are too “invasive.” He wants to balance user privacy with a reasonable level of data collection.

With Echo5D, the company covers the webcam lenses on both the tablet and the Kinect, so that they can’t record their surroundings. The company only wants data gathered by the infrared sensor, which tracks movement by measuring its distance from nearby objects, Kimmel says. It does this by emitting beams of near-infrared light and calculating how long it takes for those beams to bounce back, similar to radar.

Instead of taking a vivid picture of someone, the Kinect basically captures his or her shape—a “silhouette” or “fuzzy shadow,” as Kimmel puts it.

Meanwhile, Atlas5D’s consumer product uses a webcam to record video of the user. But the company’s software analyzes the images on the tablet, then deletes the images within milliseconds and transmits the data gleaned from them to Atlas5D’s servers, Kimmel says.

The challenge for Atlas5D was developing software that could render enough useful information without access to a huge database of images, which might provide more insights. Kimmel thinks Atlas5D has accomplished that goal, although customers will ultimately be the judges.

“There’s a lot of talk these days about how people should be willing to give up their privacy in order to get the benefits of real-world data or real-world measurements or the quantified self, whatever you want to call it,” Kimmel says. “We don’t view privacy and data insights as mutually exclusive.”

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