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The Silicon Review Asia

An Interview with Rafi Zack, EchoCare Technologies Ltd Co-founder and CEO: ‘Our Vision is to Provide a Device which is the Best Alternative for a Human Caregiver’

The Silicon Review
November, 2019

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“The ECHO system is based on a unique RF sensor that doesn’t compromise the senior’s privacy (unlike cameras) and covers a standard senior  apartment with a single device.”

Elderly care at home is a matter of great concern if the elderly live alone since unforeseen circumstances might occur that affect their well-being. Technologies that assist the elderly in independent living are essential for enhancing care in a cost-effective and reliable manner. Elderly care applications often demand real-time observation of the environment and the resident’s activities using an event-driven system.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present EchoCare Technologies Ltd.

EchoCare Technologies develops a non-wearable, elderly-care, home monitoring system that automatically detects and alerts safety and emergency situations as well as indicating on a potential health deterioration.

The company was established in 2015 and is based in Ness-Ziona, Israel.

Rafi Zack, EchoCare Technologies Ltd Co-founder/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What is your opinion over AI and Robotics?

The AI technology has been used in various applications for more than 30 years. In 1990, I have researched and developed (as part of my thesis) an AI-based system that automatically detects cardio-vascular issues based on PhonoCardioGram (PCG). While it requires a professional cardiologist to analyze the heart malfunctions (e.g. Mitral Valve stenosis), a small device could provide the diagnostic result immediately. Such a device could have saved many lives.

Later on, in 1992, I developed another AI-based voice recognition that provides hands-free commands for car navigation system.

I believe that both examples are excellent cases for the potential benefit of AI-based systems. Such systems make our life safer and easier. During the last decade, the computation power of the embedded and cloud machines has dramatically improved so we can implement much smarter/complicated algorithms that can analyze various cases (based on Big Data) in a much better way compared to human brain.

Regarding Robots – Of course, the robotic capabilities is an important part that should tightly work aside AI capabilities. However, we should carefully examine the real contribution of robots to humanity.

Finally, I think that our future is very much involved with AI capabilities almost in any segment. Therefore, I do believe that companies should invest in the AI to get ready for the new era of smart machines.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

After many years in various technology companies mainly in wireless communication and signal processing, I decided to invest my skills for the elderly care technologies. I had found out that senior citizens stay home due to various health issues; therefore, they stop being independent all of a sudden. That said, the family members must help their senior members every day/all day until they find a proper caregiver.

For example, a major issue is the elderly falls at their homes. While looking at the various fall detector devices, there are various solutions in market. Most of the solutions are wearable devices. Others are either video camera-based solution or distributed sensors. However, when it comes to the private senior apartment, none of them is acceptable. The seniors are not committed to wearing a device 24/7. They don’t like to have a privacy-intrusive solution and are not willing to invest a lot of many to install many sensors.

That was my starting point to develop a non-wearable/non-intrusive solution that the seniors may feel free to use at their home. This is also the point where my colleague, Dr. Yossi Kofman, joined me in this effort as my co-founder.

While developing the ECHO non-wearable fall detector system, we also understood that it’s also very important to find a way to avoid such falls. This may be achieved by detecting the high risk for a fall. Therefore, we expanded the system capabilities to detect the potential health deterioration that may lead to acute falls. By reducing the risk for a fall, we actually (statistically) prevent the next fall.

Q. Can you brief us about the history of your company?

  • EchoCare Technologies was founded in January 2015,
  • In March 2015, we were selected by Incubit Technologies Ventures and the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA) incubation program to kick-off the project,
  • In March 2016 – got the 1st prize at the Boston chapter of Aging2.0,
  • In October 2016 – got the Top 10 technology company (out of 400 worldwide) for the elderly care – at the geing2.0 OPTIMIZE conference,
  • In May 2017, EchoCare runs the base of the first trial on its ECHO prototype with the largest operator in the US.
  • In March 2018 – got the 2nd prize at the Centrica’s Active Aging Challenge,
  • In July 2018 – EchoCare closedits initial closing of round–A funding followed by a differed closing.

Q. There is nothing more important for a successful business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

Our mission is to provide the best eldercare home monitoring system that can detect and alert on both acute situations (e.g. falls) and to provide vital data and analysis that indicates on the senior health deterioration in order to act before the senior gets to the unrecoverable situation.

The EchoCare vision is to provide a device which is the best alternative for a human caregiver.

Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

In the current startup era, I believe that people should be more initiative. I would definitely start my entrepreneurship at earlier age than the time I really started; at the age of 43.

Q. How satisfied are your clients with your service?

Although our product is not in the market yet, I would say that our team is committed to potential customers and partners. We do our best to follow the plans in order to let them drive their planned business properly.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Starting a new venture is like start spinning a flywheel. Your mission is to bring this flywheel up to full speed in the shortest time you can. In the beginning, you invest a lot of power but the wheel almost has no movement. But if you’re persistent and dedicated, this flywheel will start moving and will gain momentum with time. This is exactly how it feels when starting a new venture.

Q. What other successful entrepreneurs do you look up to?

I have followed entrepreneurs that brought a change to our world such as Intel’s Andy Grove, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and M-System’s Dov Moran.

Rafi Zack: An Aspiring Entrepreneur

Rafi Zack, Co-founder serves as the Chief Executive Officer of EchoCare Technologies Ltd. He brings over 30 years of extensive experience in technology, management, BizDev, and entrepreneurship. Before founding EchoCare, Mr. Zack holds managerial and executive positions in various technology companies such as Intel, DSP Communications, Sixtycom, Wisair, and Alvarion.

Mr. Zack holds B.Sc. in EE from Ben-Gurion University and studied for M.Sc.in EE from Tel-Aviv University.

“Our mission is to provide the best eldercare home monitoring system that can detect and alert on both acute situations (e.g. falls) and to provide vital data and analysis that indicates on the senior health deterioration in order to act before the senior gets to the unrecoverable situation.”

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