There is a need in healthcare delivery for higher accuracy location sensing at low costs. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for accurate contact tracing to identify at-risk individuals. Furthermore, hospitals demand globally continues to outstrip capacity growth, and therefore technological solutions are required to:
1) more quickly allocate bed spaces, to reduce patient length-of-stay and increase patient throughput;
2) more efficiently find resources, to save staff time and decrease working capital;
3) more effectively monitor room occupancy, patient-staff interactions, and wait times, to better use valuable hospital space and optimise contact time.
We have developed a system to use sensor mesh networks of IoT devices — based on millimetre-wave technology coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) — to provide more accurate indoor real-time location sensing (RTLS) for improved contact tracing, patient flow and equipment finding in hospitals. The deployment of these technologies can improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes, while reducing costs.
The technology comprises an IoT mesh platform for accurate tracing of locations and activities, without the use of privacy-invading cameras. The key technology is our mm-wave sensor, which includes AI on the edge and mesh technology to cover a single room or a large hospital. The sensor can measure location to the accuracy of centimeter (cm), for accurate contact and infection (Covid-19) tracing, and for automated room monitoring and equipment finding. AI capabilities identify if a person is falling or getting up from bed. It is ideal for hospital operations, or for wellbeing-monitoring of the vulnerable and elderly at home.
The primary vertical is in healthcare. The product has been developed for real-time location sensing in hospitals, but it is also being tested for home monitoring applications (particularly of the elderly and vulnerable, e.g. for fall-detection). The potential applications are nearly limitless, including in home automation and security, and in particularly in areas where privacy is important and cameras are not suitable.
The global RTLS market is valued at over US$1bn per annum, and is projected to grow at 18.3% CAGR. The IoT market is much larger. This product is particularly attractive as it provides a superior technological solution to existing RTLS technologies, allowing more accurate and truly real-time tracing which enables many new applications, including contact tracing. Installation is a significant, and sometimes prohibitive portion of costs in hospital RTLS projects; the sensor is designed as an easy-to-install package which can be plugged into a wall and operated with ease. It is also uniquely suitable to privacy-sensitive environments, such as hospital operating theatres.
This solution provides exceptional accuracy and true real-time tracking, which current RTLS systems do not meet. Most current systems require expensive tags which require batteries that need charging, and which only give ‘last-known location’ positions at roughly every 2-5 minutes. This is not acceptable for contact tracing applications where a subject may have been in contact with many other people in that time. The solution is also unique in that there is potential to track both tagged and untagged subjects – the latter using our patent-pending AI engine which can be used to recognise movements and actions.
For hospitals, there is significant return on investment (ROI) potential through improved efficiencies, saved staff time, increased patient throughput and numbers of procedures.