DC-area health-focused startups share the spotlight at CES

Three startups from the D.C. area made inroads into the growing health-technology field at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.

With so much attention on focusing on health, wellness and senior care technology, companies worldwide are creating products and services designed to improve how we live, function and care for our elderly.

Three such companies — all with products currently in-market — made a major splash within Eureka Park, a highly-specialized marketplace that gives emerging companies a cost-efficient platform from which to introduce their solutions to the world.

Silent Beacon, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, has developed an easy-to-use pendant designed to instantly alert loved ones or emergency responders in the event of a mishap. It’s an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” device for use across all ages — from children to seniors — that connects to smartphones and other Bluetooth devices. It clips easily to belts, necklaces and even key rings.

CLICK TO EXPAND: Silent Beacon is an emergency-alert device that you don’t need to be able to reach to activate. (WTOP/Steve Winter)

Silent Beacon founder and President Kenny Kelley said he got the idea the hard way.

“The concept came to me after a motorcycle accident, when I was lying in the road with no way to reach my cellphone,” Kelley said. “It made me realize that if you can’t easily access your signaling device in an emergency, it’s relatively useless. The Silent Beacon effectively solves that problem.”

Unlike most other similar products, Silent Beacon is a one-time-purchase.

“While most other companies charge a monthly subscription for their service, we do not,” Kelley said.

Priced at $99.99, Silent Beacon is available through the company’s website and through online distribution from Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon.

“The product has been extremely well received,” Kelley said. From the first to the fourth quarters of 2019, he added, sales have increased by 200 percent: “We’re definitely trending in the right direction.”

While the Silent Beacon is designed to be visible to the casual observer, another Rockville-based company has effectively integrated senior care with fashion and function.

“My dad really needed a device that could alert us if there was an issue, but there was no way in the world he was going to wear one of those pendants,” said David Ziemsky, co-founder and CEO of BellPal.

Ziemsky cited research saying that in about 73 percent of cases, “people don’t have access to the product when they need it. They go into the garage or climb up on a chair, something happens, and they can’t reach their pendant.”

CLICK TO EXPAND: BellPal is an emergency-alert device that looks like a stylish watch — so that people will actually wear it. (WTOP/Steve Winter)

“BellPal solves that problem by integrating the signaling device into a stylish, functional wristwatch with automatic fall detection and the immediate ability to summon family, friends or professional help with the touch of a button,” Ziemsky said.

Like the Silent Beacon, BellPal partners with Apple and Android smartphones supported by a free mobile app with immediate connection to a number of predetermined contacts to ensure instant communication.

A division of BlueStar SeniorTech, a company with more than 6,500 customers in 50 states, BellPal has already sold more than 100 units in the three months since its official product launch. Available through Best Buy online, selected home health care agencies, a handful of regional dealers and the BellPal website, the product carries a retail price tag of $199.95 with two different security monitoring subscription levels, one for $9.95 and another for $19.95.

Sleep solution?

Just a few miles down the road in Bethesda, Amrit Bandyopadhyay and Mahvi Upender have developed an app-based system designed to effect a lasting treatment for insomnia. Designed to serve solely as a “four-months-and-done” solution, Awarables’ Sleep Solution System is a highly-structured, multistep Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that provides daily guidance, weekly goals, personalized motivation and adherence recommendations to help the user create his or her own cure for sleeplessness.

CLICK TO EXPAND: Awarable is an app-based system designed to effect a lasting treatment for insomnia. (WTOP/Steve Winter)

“With a background in neuroscience, Dr. Upender turned her passion for the science of sleep into a system designed to improve the lives of those suffering from insomnia, 30 million of whom reside right here in the U.S.,” Bandyopadhyay said.

After connecting with Bandyopadhyay, a serial entrepreneur, Upender embarked on a mission to make a difference.

“The Awarable self-help app deploys adoptive cognitive behavioral therapy to guide the user through their own personally designed sleep improvement program, using a pinpoint accurate sleep recorder to track personal biometric data of individual specific sleep patterns which flows into our sleep therapy app to chart a highly specialized road map to a better night’s sleep,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Scheduled to deliver within the next few weeks, Awarable will cost $19.99 per month. “Our goal is to bring a good night’s sleep to the masses,” Bandyopadhyay said.

For all three companies, the rules of Eureka Park mean that once a product has been in the marketplace for more than a year, they are no longer eligible to exhibit there.

For Silent Beacon, BellPal and Awarables, that edict is welcome news indeed.

Steve Winter is a WTOP contributor who works for Brotman|Winter|Fried, a Sage Communications Company.

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