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K4Connect, a startup bringing tech to senior living centers, closes its $21M Series B

K4Connect, a startup focused on bringing new technologies like voice assistance, home automation, digital messaging and more to older adults and those living with disabilities, has closed on $21 million in Series B funding. The B round had originally wrapped in October 2018, but was extended with the recent addition of $7.7 million led by Forte Ventures.

Others taking part in the round include existing investors Sierra Ventures, Intel Capital, AXA Venture Partners, the Ziegler Link•Age Fund, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, Topmark Partners (formerly Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners) and Traverse. As a result of the new funding, Forte Ventures’ Louis Rajczi will join the startup’s board. To date, K4Connect has raised $31 million in venture funding.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Notably, the additional funds were raised amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has been disproportionately impacting older adults in care facilities, cutting off their communication from loved ones and disrupting their daily activities.

The K4Connect platform, which today serves over 800 continuing care, independent living and assisted living communities across the U.S., can help to address many of the challenges these communities are now facing.

The startup was co-founded in 2013 by Scott Moody, the entrepreneur whose biometrics company AuthenTec sold to Apple, where it became the basis for Touch ID.

Now K4Connect’s CEO, Moody had moved to Raleigh, N.C. to retire, but soon realized he still had energy left to start another company. Originally, the startup’s focus had been on bringing smart home technologies together through what’s now K4Connect’s patented operating system, FusionOS. But the team hadn’t initially narrowed in on a particular market.

That changed when Moody met a man, Eric, who was an advocate for the homeless and living with MS. He told the founder that when he wakes up the morning, he has the energy for about a thousand good steps during his day — and how he uses those steps defines the quality of his life. He said the smart home tech K4Connect was developing could help him make his life better.

Moody immediately pivoted the company to redirect its focus on serving those in similar situations, which didn’t just include individuals living with disabilities but also the broader senior market.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Today, the FusionOS-powered platform integrates a suite of solutions designed for residents in independent or assisted living facilities as well as other care facilities. This includes tools to stay connected to their families though voice and video messaging, as well as those for accessing a digital resident directory, playing games, and staying informed on the latest community news — ranging from COVID-19 updates to daily meal menus to updated visitation policies, or anything else the facility wants to broadcast.

For the facilities who purchase the software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for their communities, there are other productivity tools they can use, like those for event management, resident surveys, resident and family management, communications, prospect communications, and more. Due the coronavirus outbreak, K4Connect is even developing an expanded video chat service that will allow residents to video call staff for their requests, instead of having staff enter their rooms.

Another key aspect to K4Connect’s solution is its smart home automation functionality.

The company provisions Alexa devices for residents, so they don’t have to configure devices themselves — they just plug them in. It also supports other home automation devices like smart thermostats, smart lights, motion sensors, sleep tracking devices, and more. 

This is all managed by way of the company’s “K4Community” solution powered by the underlying FusionOS technology. Residents can access this as an app their own smartphones, on preprovisioned tablets, or even through digital signage in the facility itself.

The SaaS solution is priced based on per-resident basis and the cost depends on which modules the facility wants to use in their own setup. This can range from a few dollars per month per resident to tens of dollars per month per resident, Moody says, and includes support.

Image Credits: K4Connect

As it turns out, K4Connect had a bit of a head start in terms of working on solutions more specifically designed to meet the needs of its communities amid the coronavirus outbreak, thanks to advice from its investors.

“Having investors like Intel and AXA did provide a wider perspective,” says Moody. “I figured, look, they’re really concerned. They’re seeing this issue from a wider geographic perspective than we are,” he explains.

Moody already knew that even the flu impacted older adults more than the general population. Due to K4Connect’s market of seniors, he multiplied what investors were saying could be the impact of coronavirus by a much larger factor.

“We kind of saw it coming,” Moody admits. “Many people were not completely bought in yet at the end of February. But just at the start of March, we launched something called ‘Project COVID 911.’ I just thought it was going to have a significant impact on the economy, but more importantly, the people we serve. And we had to be in a position to react and support,” he adds.

“If I was wrong, then we were going to be more prepared. And if I was right, then we would be in a situation where we can actually help serve people,” says Moody.

K4Connect adjusted its roadmap to focus on specific areas, like communications, content delivery, and pre-provisioning the Alexa Dot speakers, in order to limit time spent installing in residents’ rooms, among other things. Today, its solution offers features like resident-to-resident video chat for those now stuck in their rooms, tools for booking time slots in the dining area for facilities limiting large groups, access to live streamed content — like those yoga classes you can’t attend in person — and more.

With the added funding, K4Connect, now a team of 57 full-time, plans to further expand into the senior market, including not only those in facilities and senior communities, but also those living in affordable housing on their own. The team is actively developing solutions for this market segment, Moody says.

We are incredibly fortunate in our investor relationships in that they not only believe in our vision but equally value our mission,” Moody said, in a statement about the new funding. “Forte Ventures is a prime example of that relationship and we’re proud to welcome them to the bench of our valued investors. With their support, and all of our investors, we’re continuing to accelerate to serve as many older adults through technology as possible.”

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Yonomi’s Kent Dickson | What does COVID-19 Mean for the Smart Home Landscape?

#IoTFounders E059Listen on Apple Podcast  |  Listen on Spotify  |  Listen on Google PodcastsIn this episode of the IoT for All Podcast, we sat down with Kent Dickson, CEO and Co-Founder of Yonomi to talk about the state of the smart home landscape and how the COVID-19 pandemic could make-or-break progress …

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The Internet Of Things is all over HVACR. Is the value there yet?

Illustration: © IoT For AllAHR Expo used to be mostly a “mechanical engineering” event, and even in 2017, when I first got there, there were just a few companies who mentioned IoT or connectivity at their stands. Only the most prominent players in the HVACR industry presented their IoT solutions. In …

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How is IoT Reshaping the Insurance Industry? | Dan Davis, Director of IoT and Emerging Markets at LexisNexis Risk Solutions

#IoTMakers E057Listen on Apple Podcast  |  Listen on Spotify  |  Listen on Google PodcastsIn this week’s IoT For All Podcast, Dan Davis, Director of IoT and Emerging Markets at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, joins us to talk about the intersection of IoT and the insurance industry. We discuss how IoT and …

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5 Ways to Secure Your IoT Devices—Before They Get Hacked

Illustration: © IoT For AllInternet of Things (IoT) devices make our lives more efficient and our day-to-day more convenient. They allow us to monitor our homes from afar, control our lights, thermostats, and locks and beef up the security of our homes—among a host of other things. But because …

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IOT Internet of Things—Connecting You and Your Devices

Come Together, Right Now

The Internet of Things is gaining momentum, thanks largely in part, to the Qualcomm-driven AllSeen Alliance. The AllSeen Alliance, sparked by Qualcomm’s AllJoyn technology, is dedicated to bridging older industrial standards into the new world where everything is connected through a network of physical objects embedded with software, sensors and connectivity. The rise of IOT creates an opportunity to measure, collect and analyze an enormous amount of data that will sculpt the evolution of many industries.

Medical & Healthcare

medical-iotApplications of IOT to our medical and healthcare systems have the ability to completely change the way patients and doctors interact. Health monitoring devices such as blood pressure and heart rate monitors will have the ability to sync with the manufacturer to ensure calibration and proper operation. More advanced devices such as specialized implants, pacemakers, hearing aids and prosthetics, will all have the ability to sense and communicate remotely for optimum performance and minimize risks of failure. Remote health monitoring and emergency notification systems will have the ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes based on sensor feedback. More and more end-to-end health monitoring IOT platforms are emerging in the medical sector. Driven by cost-effectiveness and personalization, Doctors see the IOT as a way to help them better connect with their patients. By providing medical professionals with more data, diagnosis and monitoring will increase positive outcomes of medical treatment.

Home Improvements

home-automation-iotHome automation systems are also seeing big advancements from IOT applications. Google owned, Nest Labs, was the first to introduce a smart thermostat, and most recently the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. They’ve also launched their own IOT initiative called Works With Nest, which pairs Nest products with third-party brands such as Whirlpool and mercedes-benz. Apple has joined in on the home invasion as well with the launch of their HomeKit SDK. HomeKit enabled products are just starting to roll out and many of them have Siri voice recognition integrated. Home security systems have seen advancements as well, including Dropcam, another Google owned company, in addition to the new Nest Cam.

Media’s Insatiable Thirst For Big-Data

big-data-iotMake no mistake about it, the Media and Big-Data are in a committed relationship. Traditional approaches of using specific media environments such as newspapers, magazines and television shows are no longer effective means of targeting customers. Big-Media sees Big-Data as the way to circumvent failing media outlets and instead leverage connected devices and the information they gather, to better target consumers. Big-Data and the IOT work in conjunction. From a media perspective, data is the key derivative of device inter connectivity. The wealth of data generated by this emerging industry will allow practioners in advertising and media to gain an upper hand on the present targeting mechanisms currently utilized.

Privacy Issues

Internet of Things is the next stage of the information revolution, and the inter-connectivity of everything from transportation to medical devices to household appliances are positioned to change our lives for the better. One of the biggest challenges will be protecting company and consumer data. Much of the IOT-based applications depend on access to consumer data, including data collected passively from customers’ behavior. This practice is already occurring with our smartphones and the apps and games we use. Every IOT sensor is a potential entry point for hackers which can cause serious security issues in our home and businesses. Not only is information at risk of being hacked, stolen and used in violation of how it was gathered, but other potential risks create an even bigger threat. Companies will need to build more advanced security capabilities and insure that the Internet of Things isn’t eclipsed by the Internet of hackers.

Source: Eventure

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IoT and Home Automation – Is it the Future?

For decades, we’ve been dreaming about a futuristic lifestyle. But now, this fantasy is finally within grasp.

In fact, the concept of home automation has been around for some time. It rose to fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As the internet and technological advancements exploded, the development of appliances linked to computers flourished. Smart homes suddenly became a more affordable option.

Home automation has already passed its infancy stages. Soon robots that will complete your chores in autonomous homes will be commonplace. The technology backing these ideas are just now entering the mainstream.

Our desire for convenience, security, and energy efficiency have pushed innovators to develop solutions to cater to our needs. More importantly, developers must focus on the connectivity and interactivity of various devices, both of which are essential for overall efficiency and performance.

As technology continues to progress at an incredible pace, IA and IoT have found a comfortable niche in our homes.

What is IoT (Internet of Things)?

Imagine your alarm ringing in the morning. As you press the snooze button, your coffee maker- linked to your alarm clock- turns on automatically. You finally roll out of bed to the aroma of brewing coffee. And as you head into the bathroom, the lights turn on automatically. While you brush, the shower automatically turns on, adjusting the water to your desired temperature.

No, this is not a scene from a movie. This can – and is – happening. And it is only one scenario of IoT at work. The capabilities – and opportunities- of IoT for solving common household issues are endless.

IoT (Internet of Things) is the concept of connecting a device to the internet as well as other devices. It facilitates the control of electronic devices from remote locations.

More importantly, ‘smart’ technology not only enhances performance but also efficiency. Utilizing less energy follows in the footsteps of the current ‘green’ revolution.

As we head into the next generation of home automation, we are looking at entire smart homes. It will encompass everything from temperature management to home security to re-ordering food items that are low in supply. So forgetting to turn off the lights as you rush out the door for work will be a thing of the past.

Essential Components of Home Automation

The global market for home automation is expected to reach USD 39.88 billion by 2024. As the technology behind home automation continues to evolve and costs are reducing, it is becoming an affordable option for many homeowners.

global home automation market
The global market for home automation is expected to reach USD 39.88 billion by 2024.

However, two critical elements essential for optimal development remain. They are:

1. The Internet of Things

Components of a smart home must establish a wireless connection. Since they contain software that facilitates the constant exchange of data, they must be able to collect, process, and send data quickly. Furthermore, they should offer the option of being monitored and controlled remotely.

2. Open Source Automation

Open Source Automation allows you to expand your current network. You must easily be able to add or replace devices. This promotes the advancement of interconnected solutions that will be operating over high-speed Wi-Fi.

Possible Applications of IoT for Your Home

As mentioned above, there is no shortage of IoT applications. The digitalization is just beginning to kick off. Cost reduction, enhanced internet connectivity, and the need for simplistic designs are fueling the growth of this market.

Amazing projects using the concepts of automation include lighting, safety and security, HVAC, entertainment, and energy management, amongst others.

Some popular IoT components you can install in your home are:

Smart Temperature Control

Multiple aspects come into play to maintain the temperature. But one of the first pieces of IoT technology that homeowners are investing in is smart thermostats. Parks Associates finds 23% of US households plan to buy a smart thermostat before the end of 2019.

smart home device purchase intentions
23% of US households plan to buy a smart thermostat before the end of 2019.

These devices automatically adjust the temperature of your home according to your routine and residential zones, therefore maximizing energy efficiency.

Smart thermostats not only help reduce energy bills, but they also monitor the internal climate system. It detects any issues with the A/C or furnace, allowing you to address problems before they escalate and become costlier to repair.

But some companies are taking temperature control to an entirely higher level of sophistication. They are offering a solution that involves automatic roller shutters to help heat or cool your home. For instance, closing the blinds to keep the heat out during the summer can help keep your home cooler.

Smart Security Systems

Smart security systems are highly customizable. Currently, 44% of Americans own a smart security product. This sector is expected to grow as the need for home monitoring solutions increase as well.

Home security is commonly linked to surveillance. With automation, people can monitor their homes remotely, identify visitors or deliveries, and control access to their home.

Security options include cameras, video doorbells, motion sensors, smart locks, and much more. Interestingly, the sale of video doorbells alone went up 123%.

Since nearly 70% of forced entries into homes are through windows, so this is the first place to begin. Sensors detect unnatural entries and sound an alarm.

Smart locks use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to monitor your movements. With the aid of your smartphone’s GPS, the door locks automatically behind you. An integrated app can also grant access to your friends and family.

Another aspect of home security involves smart lighting and automated blinds. Since a dark home is a sign that no one is home, you can set timers to set a schedule for them to turn on and off throughout the day.

As with any automated system in your home, a smart security system is only efficient if its components work together in a seamless environment. For instance, when a motion sensor is triggered, the lights should turn on, and the camera should begin recording.

Smart Lighting

As mentioned above, this system can serve various purposes, from security to energy management to home entertainment. The apparent function of a smart bulb, an internet-capable LED light, is to allow you to control its brightness or on/off capabilities from your smartphone.

But edge computing technology is equipping smart bulbs with additional features like built-in cameras, built-in speakers, and presence-sensing capabilities.

On a side note, home automation solutions also focus on allowing you to control the amount of natural light entering your home. This is where automated blinds and screens do their jobs.

Safety Sensors

Sensor technologies are creeping into various industries. Some of the topics mentioned above already discussed a few applications. Other examples include alarms that can sense gas, fires, carbon monoxide levels, water leakage, etc.

You can also obtain additional alerts about weather conditions such as updates and warnings. Devices can be connected to local weather stations to keep your home prepared for unfavorable conditions.

Smart Bathrooms

Yes, that’s a thing. From heated floors to self-cleaning toilets (we should all invest in this!), various elements are associated with this arena.

For those concerned with water conservation, smart shower heads are the ideal solution. With the help of integrated apps, you can monitor how much water you are using while showering.

Some even change color depending upon water usage. Other features include voice-activated showers and automatic temperature settings based on personal preferences.

Television mirrors are quite in style. More than just seeing your reflection, you can now watch the news or your favorite show while you get ready.

Smart Kitchen Appliances

Now, this is a dream come true. Kitchens are typically the busiest places in houses. So there is quite a lot of scope for IoTs. All in all, you’re looking at a kitchen equipped with the best appliances, collaborating in an interactive environment.

There are so many appliances that I couldn’t possibly mention them all. But common ones include coffee makers that turn on before you even crave a cup of joe, a dishwasher that turns on when you finish loading the dishes, a fridge that tells you what ingredients are available for your recipe of choice, a stove that turns off when it detects gas leakage, and much more.

Who’s Interested?

When it comes to investing in smart home solutions, Millennials (consumers ages 18-34) are driving the sales. However, the demographics are all over the place. Single-family homeowners and people with higher incomes are more tilted towards adapting home automation systems.

Coincidentally, the Digital Voice Assistants: Ownership and Applications Report stated that people who owned a voice-enabled speaker, Amazon Echo (48%) and Google Home (57%), where more likely to buy their first home automation product soon after.

While the newer generation doesn’t want anything to do with toolboxes, many older people are as equally interested in advanced home automation trends. Moreover, there is a larger population with greater knowledge about connected technology.

What Does the Future Have in Store?

Automation solutions are constantly evolving. Today the focus is on integrating devices that will allow homeowners to control them through mobile apps from anywhere around the world.

Smart home technology has become a game-changer in the world of electronics. There are an estimated 7 billion connected IoT devices around the globe, not including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

The future, however, will consist of something even better. Autonomous homes run by AI are around the corner. Through IoT, devices can ‘learn’ from your behavioral patterns and offer meaningful insights. They can automatically readjust the settings based on your choices, habits, and routines.

Are you ready to live in a home that has a mind of its own?

Mehul Rajput

Mehul Rajput is a CEO and co-founder of Mindinventory, a software development company that provide web and mobile app development services from startup to enterprise level company. His role involves heading the operations related to business and delivery with strategic planning and defining road-map for the future.

Source: ReadWrite