Safety Wearables. Interview with the CEO of Tended—Leo Scott Smith
Nowadays, we digitize pretty much everything, from our watches to bottles. How about our safety?
Imagine, you’re in a disaster area, following an earthquake. You face aftershocks, landslides, and ambushes. The thing is—people there don’t have phones like you do, and their whereabouts might not be discovered for days or months. Meanwhile, at home, your mother has an accident. Since she is living by herself, she can’t reach for help. It’s scary, and also true for Leo Scott Smith, the CEO of Tended, who lived that story. Now, he is on a mission to ensure the safety of others.
Leo, could you please introduce Tended to our readers?
Tended creates wearable technology, leveraging a combination of Artificial Intelligence and sensor technology. Its purpose is to detect accidents within seconds. Our wearable device is called the Protect. If someone is involved in an accident—that can be anyone, from a sportsperson to an active individual, it sends a message to their emergency contacts or, potentially, the emergency services. The device provides the wearer’s location, health and activity information—all the data that is critical to ensure users get the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Leo Scott SmithCEO,Tended
We want to predict accidents by analyzing users’ movements with data collected from a variety of data points. It means that we could help someone through active feedback via vibration on their wrist. We are literally going to save peoples’ lives.
I gather that Tended Protect is not an ordinary fitness tracker. Could you tell us more about the safety features of the wearable?
We have four different safety features.
The first is the SOS function. If users are in danger, they hold the screen down for five seconds, and it will automatically send out an alert to their emergency contact.
Secondly, there is a check-in function. The device will vibrate at preset intervals, and users just need to tap it twice to confirm their safety. The ranges can vary from 5 minutes to 5 hours or even 24 hours.
Next, we have a no-motion detection. If users don’t move for a specific time, we would detect that and ask them if they are okay with a vibration on the wrist, awaiting their response. If there is none, the device will send an alert.
Last but not least—the most important feature where Artificial Intelligence comes in—the accident detection. We apply AI to learn the users’ movements. As a result, we can effectively create trends, considering which activity they are doing. We have a 98% accuracy of detection, which is incredibly high. Again, if they fail to check-in, the device will send an alert to their emergency contacts.
Being a volunteer and a member of the Founders Pledge, to what extent, do you think, technology can impact social issues?
Right now, we are going through the fourth industrial revolution, where the impact of technology cannot be denied. Technology has the greatest chance to have a positive effect on the world around us.
However, we also see a lot of negative influences in the world, resulting from an increased population, war, famine, or, yes, technology. What I find meaningful in this respect is the use of drones in rural Africa to deliver supplies and medicine, as well as 3D printers for organ printing.
Technology can foster change, but it has to be done in the right way. Now, there are a lot of people who are afraid to embrace it. There are plenty of organizations abusing it, and as a result, people do not trust emerging technologies. However, we can expect a positive impact, if both parties—the creators and innovators—considered the ethics and responsibilities of what they are creating. I—for one—am excited to see that happen.
What other aspects of Tended, do you think, fit into the Positive Tech development?
We are taking a standpoint where privacy and user data is of utmost importance to us.
Since we are a company that provides enterprise solutions, employers in large companies will be giving their employees our technology. We are focused on ensuring that employee data is only shared in the absolute worst instance. We are creating a product for the employees rather than employers.
In today’s data-focused world, people are more aware of their personal information. Soon, the first thing that users will be thinking about—regarding a tech product—will be how their data is being used.
Tended Protect is a consumer-facing product used for everyday activities. However, you expanded Tended’s portfolio to business solutions. Could you tell us more about that?
Just before we were going to start crowdfunding for the Protect wearable, we enrolled on an accelerator program which had ties with Rolls-Royce. We were then introduced to people within the company, which led to us rethinking our revenue model. We thought about how to incorporate a SaaS model into our hardware. The obvious answer to that question was massive corporations.
Have you faced any technical challenges, especially given the complex nature of wearable devices?
The first problem that we faced was hardware. It’s one of the most complicated things that any company can create. One new revision or an update to the product can take three or four months for hardware development, while it would take two days for software.
For this reason, as a company, we had to rely on private investments, and investors will only go so far with a pre-revenue product. It was about balancing the cash flow.
With an investment of £1.15m from private equity and Innovative UK funding earlier this year, what does the future hold for Tended, what are your plans?
At the moment, our primary goal is to grow the commercial side of the business.
Furthermore, we strive to develop solutions that not only detect accidents but prevent them. We want to predict accidents by analyzing users’ movements with data collected from a variety of data points. It means that we could help someone through active feedback via vibration on their wrist. We are literally going to save peoples’ lives.
That’s our core vision and core mission—to create cool technology, to push the boundaries, but in doing so, helping to save lives in different activities and industries.
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Leo Scott Smith