Technosens

Technology facilitates “senior ready” living environments to support residents, their families and care providers.

Technology: Sensors and/or Cameras, Open Source software and/or hardware, // Domain: Health & Care // Location: France

SDG Engagement:

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Technosens offers a range of equipment and services that digitally transform living environments to support seniors in ageing well. The private software company designs, develops and installs solutions that gear homes and facilities for improved and optimal care, making living environments “senior ready”. Technosens was founded in 2007 and is based in Grenoble, France, where the team today comprises 23 people.

e-lio is the name of Technosens’ digital service platform that simplifies technology for seniors and thereby enables them to benefit from Internet of Things (IoT) empowered services while ageing. The solution further aims to strengthen human interaction within senior living environments and beyond by maintaining connections and increasing information sharing between residents, their families and care providers.

Technosens’ service platform is being deployed mainly in France, Spain, England and Canada. While applicable both in private and professional settings, the services respond to a broad demand posed by various user segments. The solution is therefore offered as facility assistance to healthcare facilities, nursing homes, senior hospitality housing and as in-home support to elderly people in private residences. Technosens offers the solution with one vision: digital can be another kind of medication, beyond the chemical.

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Illustration 1: Technosens strives to deliver “senior ready” technology solutions that enable the elderly population to age well and digitally transform the care ecosystem to support improved senior care.

The incentive of Technosens to develop their IoT solution derives from the global concern of rapidly ageing populations. The shifting demographics are a challenge because our current institutional and social arrangements are unsuited for ageing populations, and it generates a worldwide demand for solutions that can support people in ageing well.

Technosens responds to this demand by offering e-lio as a platform to digitally support seniors as they lose autonomy, physical ability and mental capacity. This is effectuated in a solution that relies on technology to simplify usage and facilitate access to services of care, support, socialisation and entertainment

“For the elderly, it is providing a possibility to interact with new technologies of the internet. These kinds of technologies can be a bit complicated for them, so what we are providing is something that is easy to use.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Founder of Technosens, Thierry Chevalier, draw his inspiration from a near family relation in childhood. Seeing his own grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, isolated and with communication difficulties due to distant living, he became determined to make it his professional livelihood to enable enhanced life quality while ageing. In 2007, Technosens developed the most robust and reliable senior-focused videoconferencing system on the market: e-lio. Since then, ageism and its unprecedented set of challenges have continued to evolve:

  • The majority of elderly prefer to age in their own homes, yet one-third of people over 65 need assistance with daily life activities (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, cleaning) [1]. Solutions are needed to help support not only basic daily activities but also to foster and support their ability to thrive.
  • Everyday objects, homes and communities not originally designed with longevity in mind often become obstacles to movement, independence and socialising of the elderly. There is a need for solutions that instead maximise their mobility, safety and autonomy as they age.
  • The health care journey is complex and fragmented. Families and care providers need new tools and care models to support care transitions, clinical collaboration, health management and remote care.
  • On the professional side, staff shortages and quality concerns are increasing, so new solutions are needed to support the scarce human capital and make operations more efficient.

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Illustration 2: Population ageing is widespread across the world, and the proportion of elderly is growing faster than the total population, challenging economies and posing an increased need for care solutions to ensure quality of life for seniors. 

Technology innovation has evolved along with these growing demands, and since the launch in 2007, Technosens has advanced the solution technologically through many iterations, based on feedback continuously collected from the market. Throughout this journey, Technosens has been able to earn the trust of large investors, enabling them to expand their offering over the years.

Having equipped hundreds of facilities and deployed thousands of e-lio boxes, Technosens has grown to be a recognised technology provider for nursing homes and senior hospitality housing. No solutions offer the exact same functionalities (foremost data sharing between care professionals and frequent social contact between seniors and their relatives), and Technosens has therefore acquired a rather unique position on the market. With the integration of a complete range of user personalised services, the solution supports autonomy through technology simplicity – and makes it accessible through the television.

“Most elderly do know how to use a television. So what we are doing for them is to add functionality to the television.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

We age gradually, and it should be a joyful time of life. Technosens anticipates e-lio to be able to facilitate this. The company strives towards bringing the solution further into international markets over the next decade, making e-lio a global offering, for accelerating the spreading of “senior ready” living environments.

e-lio is essentially a platform designed for senior housing facilities that covers a complete range of digital services for elderly people, their families and care providers. The physical components of the solution include a box, a camera, a remote controller and the cables needed to connect the components. The box is plugged behind the television (or another type of screen) and thereby provides it with smart functionality. Through this box, the television connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and is then able to communicate with the Technosens software. The software runs from a central server, which enabled all communication data to be stored partly on the box, partly in the cloud.

The Technosens software processes the input data and, based on this, filters relevant information into a variety of services. Hence, the software generates tailor-made output data and transmits it both back to the box and to external receiver devices. The output data is made available for users through the e-lio platform, which is accessed via the box-connected television and/or the dedicated application e-lioPro.

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Illustration 3: Enabling technologies for Technosens’ e-lio solution. 

Depending on the specific user and user settings, different information and services are available. All the digital services are run from the centralised e-lio platform, and from there, administrators can control all information and manage all services “à la carte”. A list of the available services includes:

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When deployed in private settings (typically the home of an elderly or disabled person), the services facilitate:

  • A centralised management system for the resident to access all available services from one place (the television) and a hub for connecting smart devices in order to facilitate automation in the home.
  • Videoconferencing and messaging system enables seniors to maintain social contact with relatives via the television.
  • Information to be received from relatives and caregivers (e.g., activities program, medication reminders, calendar view etc.), and from external sources (e.g., weather forecast, news, public transport time tables etc.).
  • Entertainment to be facilitated through a variety of stimulating games and direct access to radio and TV channels.
  • Alerts to be provided to relatives and caregivers if inactivity or irregular behaviour is detected over longer periods of time, indicating that the resident may have fallen, not returned home or other unfortunate events.

When deployed in professional settings (such as senior housing facilities, nursing homes and healthcare facilities), the services facilitate:

  • Centralisation of systems, as the e-lio platform is built to easily pair up with third-party services and integrates seamlessly with different equipment, devices, industry systems and software. It may thereby serve as a hub for automation in a facility.
  • Videoconferencing and messaging system enables caregivers to have online consultations with the residents and with the families of the residents. Furthermore, when a resident alerts for help, the care provider can launch a video call to detect the urgency of the alarm.
  • Care providers to easily document information on the resident, and exchange the information with colleagues and/or relatives of the resident, via the dedicated application.
  • Care administrators to provide instructions, updates and daily information to the care team on shift, notifying them about urgent tasks, influential past events, residents who must receive extra attention etc.
  • Within a facility, selected information to be displayed on screens 1) for caregivers to receive updated information and have an overview of the entire facility, and 2) for residents to access a range of services similar to those offered in a private setting.
  • Newspaper (even in printed versions) can be generated based on the information shared via the platform; for example, 1) for the care providers and administrators to gain an overview of events of the past week, and 2) for the residents to receive a collection of the messages sent from relatives.

Technosens handles the installation of the solution and collaborates in the process with facility employees, software publishers, equipment and service providers in order to adapt installations to the individual needs and wishes of facilities, residents and families.

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Illustration 4: All the digital services offered by Technosens are managed from a centralised platform. Administrators have an overview of all information and can manage all services from the e-lio platform. 

The development of Technosens’ IoT solution is a direct response to the global concern of accelerating changes in our demographics and a contribution to configuring more future-proof and robust societies to cope with this. By leveraging technology in ageism, Technosens has designed an intelligent, and yet simple, platform that serves as a central component in “senior ready” living environments. By providing a range of vital services, the e-lio solution supports residents to age well and professionals to provide care well. Digital services are more than ever a factor in the quality of life for vulnerable ageing people and their families and in the comfort of work for care providers.

“The objective is of course not to replace human visits – it is to help keep the link. …It is good support for physical and real-life connection.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

The beneficial outcomes of being able to interact digitally – or rather, the experience of not being able to interact at all – has become highly noticeable during the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Concurrently with a general acceleration in the digitalisation trend and a heavy increase in the number of online users and services, the many lockdowns effectuated widespread isolations where all physical communication was made impossible. The elderly, being a particularly vulnerable group in all populations, and typically not digitally connected, suffered from long periods of isolation with no or very limited contact with other people. Hence, the pandemic has been an eye-opener, leading both the seniors, their relatives and care professionals to really understand and recognise the value of what the e-lio solution offers.

The increasing demand for Technosens’ solution is manifested as outcome in terms of reshaping the original value proposition, transforming the company from being a telecommunication system provider to being a SaaS [2] provider. This transformation has enabled the company to add services, generating company growth as an outcome. Technosens generates profit from a recurring revenue mechanism, where customers are charged via subscription, and this is complemented by one-time sales derived from optional extra service offerings.

 

Case_technosens_video-conferencingIllustration 5: Technosens offers a complete range of digital solutions, such as videoconferencing systems and digital displays, that strengthens and facilitates connections between the senior, relatives and care providers. 

For users of the solution, the direct outcome is the enablement of seniors to benefit from technology-empowered services while ageing. This facilitates a strengthening in connections and an increase in information sharing between seniors, their families and care providers. The general consumer of Technosens’ solution is senior living environments both in the public and private sector. The users of e-lio are elderly people and their families, as well as care providers and administrators at assisted living facilities, nursing homes and senior hospitality housing. This variety in users causes varying needs and demands, which effectuate also varying outcomes to be gained from the solution. The key valuable outcomes for users are listed below.

Seniors and families – Private outcomes:

  • At home autonomy: e-lio offers ageing seniors a home adapted to their autonomy, wishes and needs, enabling them to prolong the time they are able to live at home in their own house. Includes also security for relatives, knowing that they are notified in case of irregular activities in the home.
  • Efficient and fast care services: digital care services are available at all times in combination with in-person care services available on speed dial.
  • Frequent social interaction: e-lio allows residents to maintain social contact with their loved ones despite physical distances.
  • Access and ease of use: the technology is intuitive and easy to use, enabling seniors to access all services through one centralised management point – the television.
  • Increased digitalised documentation: This enables relatives to better follow the lives and healthcare journeys of their elderly from remote distances, both when residing in their own homes and in assisted living facilities.
  • Increased interaction with care providers: This enables seniors and relatives to better exchange information and communicate with attached care providers. This facilitates more personal care in-home as well as in facilities.

“If you ask a senior about what he wants in a solution, he will not be able to answer very precisely.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Although the direct user may not be able to put his desires into words, Technosens is indeed able to convey outcomes that provide value in senior living environments.

Care providers and administrators – Professional outcomes:

  • Operational efficiency: the interoperability of e-lio enables it to pair up with industry software and function as a centralized management system, which simplifies administration and avoids repetition for care record management software, information systems and menu management software.
  • Enriched internal communication: e-lio facilitates team communication between care providers and between care providers and care administrators. This is relevant for care both within assisted living facilities where shifts overlap and in private homes where care providers rarely communicate in person.
  • Ease of procedures: documentation of healthcare journeys becomes digitised, making it easier for care providers to share information with colleagues and relatives of the senior, as well as to access historical information on their patients. Administrators and relatives are also automatically notified about relevant events.
  • Service visibility: the more systematic documentation and external sharing of care information makes the care services more transparent. It is made clear what services and care are being provided to the senior, both in-home and at assisted living facilities, which is often an opaque concern for relatives.
  • Care optimisation: e-lio enables care providers and administrators to collect input and feedback from seniors and their relatives that enable them to personalise and optimise care to the individual.

Furthermore, e-lio supports assisted living facilities as they embark on their digital transformation, allowing them to go paper-free while maintaining control and cohesion in their services, saving time and reducing costs.

Technosens strives to help bring out the best of all technologies by simplifying usability and compatibility to increase usage and automation. The e-lio platform is designed to connect to external devices and services (e.g., fall detectors, medical sensors and alarms, smart applications and furniture and any user interface), as well as to link up and centralise data split across multiple platforms. The compatibility abilities effect that the solution at present is acclaimed by many players in the senior market who use it for its simplicity, interactivity and adaptability.

The solution offered by Technosens may not seem as egregiously novel or complex IoT technology. However, when directly targeting a user segment that was not born in the digital age, the available solution and its services are an abstraction that seniors are often reluctant towards adopting. Reluctance may also characterise the assisted living facilities as they are often governed by public authorities which means budget constraints and bureaucratic processes. On top of this, Technosens needs to put great effort into assuring users that the solution neither monitors their every move nor intrudes on privacy. In the development and composition of e-lio, these were some of the many considerations that had to be taken into account.

“We are really targeting a market which is very far from technology!  …We know that the market is not mature yet, and we have to stay quite pragmatic.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Hence, many factors influence the development of an IoT solution, especially when the targeted users are represented by segments whose capabilities to navigate the digital world are very limited, either directly or institutionally. In the composition of e-lio, Technosens found that successful development was achieved when balancing these many factors. This is a matter of being agile and remaining open to external market forces.

Technosens considers a number of points to be vital for the success of the e-lio solution. Taking departure in the development and commercialisation of the platform and the services it makes available, these points are compiled into a list of recommendations below.

1. Merge market feedback with vision

“We have a process where we try to integrate the demands of our customers on a regular basis. But still, we have our own vision on what we want to do as the market is not consolidated yet.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Market interaction is key and should guide any company. However, Technosens finds that an independent vision is just as essential to nurturing the long-term evolvement of the business. The market may not always be fully aware of the service potential that digital products hold, and to redeem this, visionary proactivity is inevitable.

2. Sell results rather than products

Formulate the results that your solution generates – the value proposition – and sell this as your offering rather than the stand-alone product. Being able to do this requires insight and partaking in one’s market and ecosystem. Technosens pursues frequent contact with the various players in the senior ecosystem in order to build solid partnerships that increase synergies in the development of technologies that meet the needs of the users.

“What we see is that we are providing something that they are not used to having,
but they want to have.”

Jorge Rider, Senior Developer at Technosens

3. Educate and involve users

“One of the keys to success is the installation itself and the first steps in involvement of the management and the usage of the solution.“
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Making sure that users are in fact able to use one’s solution is significant for its value creation. Technosens finds that keeping close ties with the users, and supporting them in becoming experts in management and use of it, is a self-sustained investment. These exchanges further help Technosens improve their solution and offer the most relevant services for the seniors, their families and the professionals that work with them.

4. Disciplined technology development

Technosens recommends innovators to validate that there is a market for the solution that you intend to offer – and that the market is ready for it. Although technology development is crucial for IoT value propositions to remain relevant, do not only think solutions of the future but think solutions of the present as well. Simplicity and discipline shall guide development.

“Stick with the market and the reality, and do not go into crazy ideas. We can do very technologically interesting solutions but usage and sales are what makes things real and concrete at the end.”
Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager at Technosens

Case_Technosens_DMATIllustration 6: Digital Maturity Radar Chart: Assessment of Technosens by Benjamin Bouilliez, Operations Manager and Jorge Rider, Senior Developer.

Technosens assumes a high level of digital maturity with an overall score of 4.09. The score indicates that the digital capabilities of the company are vastly mature, and that they perform above average for the service sector.
The highly ranked score may be explicated by the origination of the company as born digital.

The Digital Maturity Assessment Tool is copyrighted by Associate Professor and PhD Annabeth Aagaard, Director at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Business Development, Aarhus University. To get the digital maturity of your company mapped out, click here.