ActiveProtect Technologies, a Philadelphia company, is developing novel technology directed towards protecting the elderly from harmful falls. We had the opportunity to speak with Drew Lakatos, the CEO and President of ActiveProtect to learn about their technology and its potential applications.
Gaurav Krishnamurthy, Medgadget: What is the main product ActiveProtect offers and how did you identify the need for it?
The main product of APT is a smart garment with 3D motion sensors, micro-airbags, and a sophisticated motion algorithm capable of determining a human fall prior to impact. Our wearable device is able to map normal behaviors and activities of daily living, and determine non-conforming departure sequences or ‘accidents’. Our issued patents have disclosed many things we can do with this – send an alarm, call for help, deploy protection, remote monitor, intervene prior to injury, etc. Our initial focus is hip fracture protection in the elderly, but our patented methodology also works for motorcycle, equestrian, military, sports, and high-risk occupational injury intervention. We can also solve current accuracy limitations with auto-fall detection PERS devices.
The need was identified by our CTO and inventor, who is a senior trauma surgery veteran, lifelong medical innovator, holds 15 patents, and is a former Lieutenant Colonel military surgeon. In a passionate quest to help his new patient population after retiring from the military, he identified the need to protect the frail, age-at-home elderly after witnessing first-hand the volume and life-altering impact of falls in seniors at his trauma center in Pennsylvania. He first sought to identify the key high fall-risk indicators to determine statistical probabilities of specific patients, and then spent years determining the key motor programs embedded in all of us that govern our day-to-day activities, in order to determine the departure signatures.
Can the ActiveProtect technology have applications other than elderly care?
Drew Lakatos: The methodology has many applications (sports, military, high-risk occupational). It vastly improves fall detection PERS devices (Personal Emergency Response Systems).
Any activity that can be motion-mapped, we can determine departures using our methodology.
Medgadget: When was the company started and at what stage is the product at? When will it be available to customers?
Drew Lakatos: Research began in 2002. We were incorporated in 2005. Patents were applied for and issued in 2006 and 2008, with a 3rd pending patent applied for in 2009. The shift from research to product development occurred in 2011. Our Gen4 research device was delivered in Q1 2013, our airbag hip garment was tested in Q2 2013. We are in the midst of a seed round raise to integrate the component POC technologies, refine the algorithm, and conduct a large scale research trial. Progress has slowed due to resource constraints, but with successful seed investment, we will have a commercializable device within 18 months.
Medgadget: Can the garment be re-used after a fall? Is it washable?
Drew Lakatos: The device is designed to intervene for two falls before needing to be ‘re-packed’. It will be washable, and we’ve gone so far as to measure the water temp in assisted care facilities in order to incorporate into our design criteria (it is significantly hotter than your residential washing machine).
Medgadget: Are there any other products in the market that you know of that attempt to protect people from falling? If yes, how is your product better?
Drew Lakatos: Passive, plastic hip pads have been around for twenty years. Their fatal flaw is wearability, and usability (see pictures below). They are 90% effective, but overwhelmingly rejected by patients and therefore seldom even recommended by caregivers. We are simply using technology to solve the wearability and usability issues that have killed the adoption of passive hip pads, and are doing it by using now commonplace technologies (inertial sensors, airbags, wearable device). We also offer new capabilities unrealizable with passive pads. Finally, we tested the impact attenuation of our airbag this summer at the Veterans Administration Gait Lab against the best (bulkiest) passive hip pads on the market. We exceed all of them, attenuating impact force by 90%+ with just 1” thickness of air inflation, which puts us well below the force required to fracture the femoral head.