Healthtech device facilitating early detection of dementia takes out creativetech Startup Weekend
Highlighting how wide the scope of creativetech is, a team working on a shoe sole with built-in technology that it hopes will be able to detect changes in the gait of the wearer to help identify the development of conditions including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s took out the top prize at the recent Startup Weekend at Creative Enterprise Australia.
Led by Dr Eduardo Jorgensen, the team of six worked throughout the weekend to develop an initial prototype of the device, with the idea having come from Jorgensen’s experiences as a medical student seeing the effects of late diagnosis of dementia.
“I discovered that the process of dementia assessment wasn’t an easy process and very rarely yielded good results. I wanted to create a solution for an earlier assessment model,” he said.
“Diagnosis of dementia often happens far too late and at this stage there’s often very little that can be done to stop it. An earlier diagnosis could mean access to support at crucial stages of the disease’s development to encourage better outcomes for the patient.”
The device works by the sole of the shoe having sensors to analyse the wearer’s walking pattern in real time. As Jorgensen explained, an algorithm can then analyse the datasets to detect whether the gait is within normal range or whether it has an early indicator of an underlying dementia, with this data shared with the patient’s doctor.
This is just the latest healthtech project for Jorgensen, who is also the cofounder of diabetes treatment platform Medicsen, which is currently in Queensland taking part in the HotDesQ program.
“While I was still a student, a little girl with diabetes rejected the treatment in the consult that I was running. I was shocked and had an idea to solve it. Then things escalated quickly as I was selected for a three month program in New York City and received investment from a Dubai firm, so I gathered a team, founded Medicsen and we just took it forward,” he said.
“When it comes to tech, my personal opinion is that eHealth can bring a lot to the table in terms of monitoring and patient management, improving quality of life and treatment outcomes, so it made a lot of sense to follow that path; also, I am a bit of a geek, so I love being surrounded by crazy science tech that solves problems.”
Despite having “piles of work” to do for Medicsen, Jorgensen and a friend living on the Gold Coast decided they “deserve a fun weekend” and bought last-minute tickets to the Startup Weekend, packing their bags and driving down to Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast last Friday morning.
“Prior to the event I just had a little research around dementia and changes in gait patterns, I though it could be tracked and an important indicator of early dementia but I never had access or time to find the resources needed to continue,” he said.
The Startup Weekend provided the perfect environment to develop the idea, Jorgensen said, with the support from the team assembled and CEA facilitators helping to turn the idea into a reality.
The priority must be Medicsen, but with Solus Health taking out top prize on the weekend Jorgensen said the team is keen to explore its long-term potential.
“The first thing would be to build a deeper business case in order to raise $20,000 that will allow us to finish prototyping and testing it in a clinical environment. I believe that if we manage to raise that capital everything will scale up and we will just keep on with it until we can get it to the market or sell the IP; we are currently analyzing the patent environment around it to find out the best path to follow,” he said.
“Time will tell, but at least the team has the passion and abilities that are needed to build a successful startup.”
Image: the Solus Health team. Source: Supplied.