Hi, I am Bob, the founder of Conexo.Casa.
For over 30 years I have been a technologist working with networks, computers, wireless, video, audio, and the Internet.
Recently my life changed dramatically when I learned that I had Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This caused me to rethink everything about my life.
Having dealt with my father having Dementia towards the end of his life, seeing my grandparents before him also suffer from this debilitating end to highly productive lives, and having first hand experience supporting family members with Autism, I knew what was to come for me, and what challenges I could help others overcome.
While I still am able, I wanted to do something meaningful. Conexo.Casa (The “Connected Home” in Spanish) was born.
Modern technology is fantastic and has the potential to be used to support people with disabilities. Technologies like social networking, video conferencing, the Internet of Things, home automation, voice recognition, and artificial intelligence can solve many of the routine problems the elderly, those suffering with neurocognitive disorders, or the physically disabled face in living independently. But these technologies are impersonal and often complex. What if there was a social network designed around simple to use, accessible technology that enabled people who were disabled to solve the real challenges of day to day living?
The Conexo.Casa Solution
Conexo.Casa is first, and foremost, about human interaction and support. We pull together family, friends, volunteers, community organizations, and service providers to create a community of support enabling our “Clients” to live independently.
We work to train and develop “Buddies” who are the personal support network for our Clients. Buddies are familiar with the Client, their capabilities, limitations, preferences, and living environment. Buddies are on call to work remotely with Clients, talk to them, check in as needed, and be the “first tier of support” to them.
We connect the Buddies to the Client using a social network and then provide simple to use, basic tools in the Client’s home that are connected to the social network. Buddies, and our technical support staff, have secure remote access to the technology tools in the Client’s home. They too have a simple user interface for responding to and managing the needs of our Clients.
The basic set of tools delivered to the Client include:
- A mesh wireless network – This router and mesh nodes creates a whole house network which the rest of Conexo.Casa services rely. This network is remotely managed by our technical support team. If anything ever goes down, the team will know and can bring it back up. The mesh is used for device connectivity and for location tracking within the Client’s home.
- A home automation controller – The secure brain that stores information about the devices in the home, the preferences of the Client, and monitoring information. All data stays on the home automation controller unless the Client or their caregivers give explicit permission for the data to be used for a specific purpose.
- A home portal – This is the main interface for the Client. It can be visual, audible, or touchable (haptic). The interface is simple, obvious, and intuitive.
- Visual – The home portal is basically a tablet with large simple text, intuitive icons, and distinct colors for each tile control. This simple set of tiles work in a hierarchy/tree using very basic logic. Early stage dementia patients, for instance, may see 12 top level tiles to select from, where each top level tile leads to 12 more tiles below that, whereas dementia patients who are less capable might only have a single layer of tiles with 4, or possibly even 1 choice.
- Audio – The home portal will use interactive voice response as a secondary interface option. This would be familiar to many who have used other smart speaker systems. The vocabulary will be short, limited, and intuitive. “Call Bob”, “Order Groceries”, “Schedule Doctor’s Appointment”, “Lock doors”, “Join chat”, or “order ride” could all be representative commands.
- Touch – The home portal can be optionally provided with haptic vibration interface, like how a smart phone interacts to touch. This can be used to signal visually and/or hearing impaired Clients with command response.
- Device Interactions – Optionally we will enable home automation controlled devices like lights in the home to flash when there is a message, or have the Client’s personal communicator vibrate when there is someone at the front door. These “advanced” functions will be made available over time, as they would be secondary to our support model.
- A personal communicator – This is a wireless device (watch/fob) that provides a call button, speaker, microphone, and GPS tracking that works both outdoors and in. At any time voice commands can be issued from the communicator and executed by the home controller over the in home wireless network, or outdoor carrier network. The button can be programmed for a range of functions but usually would be a “panic” or “call” button. Again, the personal communicator would interact visually, through sound, and through touch/vibration.
- Smoke and CO2 detectors – These will be connected and monitored by the Conexo network.
Again, all of the tools at the Client’s home are remotely accessible to the Client’s Buddies via our social network. Secure access lists tightly control who can access these capabilities and when, allowing for Buddy scheduling.
The social network element of Conexo.Casa can be configured to suit the needs of any specific client. As much or as little information as desired by the Client and/or Primary Buddy can be shared with other Conexo.Casa network members in the simple to use online community.
Backing up our Buddies are Conexo.Casa’s trained, professional, technical and social support staff. We monitor every Client and make sure that they are safe, answer their questions, act as a concierge, and provide 24/7 support, even when Buddies are not available.
As a nonprofit, Conexo.Casa will be working with other nonprofit organizations who have an interest in supporting our target customers, namely those with conditions such as:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Physical Disabilities
- The elderly
We hope to have these other nonprofits provide volunteers, referrals, and possibly even technical/social support services, in addition to our staff. Again, the goal is to personalize and humanize technology to make it more accessible for our Clients.
The Business Model
Conexo.Casa is seeking 503-C nonprofit status. The non-profit corporation will contract with various service providers to deliver services to our Clients. Electric Metric, LLC, is the for profit organization which will be the primary contractor to Conexo.Casa. Profits from Electric Metric LLC will be used to fund operations and defray the cost of service to our Clients in need.
The basic equipment package is expected to be a one time cost per Client of less than $300. This would include the Home Portal, the Home Automation Controller, the Personal Communicator, two CO2/Smoke Detectors, and system provisioning. Recurring monthly service is expected to be less than $30 per month. This will include Internet service, LTE device tracking service, and all basic services such as 24/7 technical support staff, administrative staff, and related overhead. We envision these low subscription fees as a requirement in order to service the maximum number of Clients.
Clients will have the option to upgrade their home package to add additional hardware devices such a door locks, doorbells, motion sensors, lighting control, and other home automation elements. Electric Metric LLC will generate additional revenue from the promotion, sales and installation of these products.
Clients can also subscribe to services such as ride sharing, delivery services, home maintenance services, and medical (non HIPPA or life safety) services. Electric Metric LLC will generate additional revenue from the promotion, sales and recurring subscriptions to these paid services. We expect that there will be many free services also available to our Clients.
Organizational sub-licensing will be available to our partners. Once our network is up and running, it can be replicated into private networks for other nonprofits or for profit organizations. Electric Metric, LLC will generate additional revenue by operating these private networks on behalf of third party organizations.
We are investigating partnerships with home automation platform providers, home automation equipment providers, Internet service providers, and call center operations through other non-profits, particularly those supporting the blind or disabled.
By utilizing Buddies to survey the Client’s home, assist in the configuration of their systems, and complete installation, we hope to significantly reduce the cost of customer acquisition and provisioning. Our main costs will be in operating our call and data centers, marketing, and training.
Using Buddies and a community social network model allows for better Client support by people who know the Client, their capabilities, and their living environment.
So there you are…
The need is now to pull together a team that shares my vision and can take the reigns over when I can no longer lead the charge. It is inevitable that I will need to use technology like Conexo.Casa myself sooner or later (hopefully later), so why not pull together something that helps others?