The Nominet Trust 100 celebrates the people and organisations who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. Adrian Perry, founder of 2015 NT100 project PulseGuard, shares his reflections on the NT100 in this Q&A:
1)In your words, please give an overview of PulseGuard
PulseGuard is an innovative heart rate monitor and alert system, created to detect seizures in epilepsy, and the onset of SUDEP. We are a family based company, helping other families in similar situations. We were featured in the 2015 NT100.
2)What is the main purpose of PulseGuard?
The main purpose of PulseGuard is to help give independence to epilepsy sufferers and peace of mind to their families. Seizures can cause falls and severe injuries and the potential of suffocation during night time. Some seizures can go unnoticed, with no movement and no sound. There is also the risk of SUDEP (Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). Parents are having to watch their children 24 hours a day, with broken sleep. Some young adults need constant monitoring and have hardly any independence.
PulseGuard is a completely wireless technology that is comfortable to wear and very effective at alerting users and carers to seizures. It is unique among epilepsy systems, as it monitors the heart rate. Studies have shown that in 95 per cent cases of epilepsy, heart rate is elevated at the onset of a seizure. At the early onset of possible SUDEP, the heart rate drops. PulseGuard will alert the user when the heart rate rises above, or drops below, a custom set value. We have created a potentially lifesaving piece of equipment, using technology that is fresh, up to date and simple to use.
3)What inspired you or the founders to create PulseGuard?
Tom, my youngest son, was the inspiration. He suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a very severe form of epilepsy. We were monitoring his seizures overnight using an ‘under mattress’ monitor and a CCTV camera. One morning, we found him face down in his pillow and hardly breathing. He had suffered a tonic seizure (no sound, no movement) during the night and the mattress monitor didn’t pick it up. We almost lost him and set about finding a solution.
A public release was never planned; it was always just “Tom’s Monitor”. But in the first two years of testing, it alerted us to every single one of his seizures. Word of it was getting around certain groups and societies, and after hearing about a death in a close family following an undetected seizure, we created Adris Technologies, as a non-profit organisation and started selling PulseGuard in 2014.
4)How has the NT100 helped your organisation progress?
Being included in the NT100 has been huge for us! As a small family owned company, it’s incredibly hard to get your name out there. The NT100 gives our potential customers the confidence that PulseGuard is a reliable, and innovative piece of technology. It has helped forge relationships with many notable people in the media and the health-care industry and opened many doors that would have remained closed without the recognition from NT100. We confidently say that we would not be where we are today without our inclusion in the NT100.
5)What is the added value of tech when addressing social challenges?
Technology is something most people can relate to. We use technology for almost everything we do. Work, cooking, travel, finance etc. It’s exciting, always changing, updating, and has made the lives of billions easier. Technology is designed to assist. It can do certain things much more quickly and effectively, and even tasks that are impossible for humans to carry out. The case is the same for social challenges. Technology was the only path open to us to create a product that would accurately and consistently detect Tom’s seizures. The only other option is depriving parents of sleep to monitor their children 24 hours a day.
6)Who is your ‘Everyday Tech Hero’?
Bill Gates. I admire what he’s created in the Microsoft corporation. The vast rate that technology has improved from his initial concept is mind-blowing.
7)What are your plans for the future?
We have a very exciting future ahead of us. By using a technology that is evolving so quickly, PulseGuard has a huge potential for improvement. One of our long-term projects is to develop a sensor that will enable us to detect additional clinical observations, allowing PulseGuard to become the most flexible health-care system on the market. We also want to move to foundation status, so that it will give us the opportunity provide PulseGuard systems to the less well-off, ensuring that everyone has access to seizure monitoring.
Currently, we are successfully trialling PulseGuard Pro, which has the ability to link into any telecare and red button system in care homes or in the domestic home. We are also testing a pager system that sends the alarm directly to a carer’s pager. We hope that PulseGuard Pro will make patient monitoring in care homes far more efficient and effective, allowing for fewer deaths in care.
Alongside all of this, we are discovering the ever-expanding uses for PulseGuard. As the system monitors the change in heart rate, people are now using PulseGuard to detect issues in other conditions. These include diabetic coma in Type 1-Diabetes, and PoTS attacks, for those who suffer with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. Care homes are using PulseGuard when monitoring patients nearing the end of their lives, and it is being used for many other problems relating to heart conditions.