- Aparna Pujar is the founder and CEO of Zemplee, an AI service that provides in-home elderly care.
- The startup relies on 5G for fast connectivity and the ability to handle multiple devices.
- This article is part of "How 5G Is Changing Everything," a series about transformational 5G tech across industries.
There is a well-worn path to follow when you get old: A caretaker moves in, you move in with your children, or you go to a care home. It removes autonomy, and it's disruptive and expensive. Aparna Pujar, founder and CEO of Zemplee, said all of this can be a thing of the past.
Founded in 2019, Zemplee is an AI-powered monitoring system that lets elderly individuals stay at home with reduced risk. The technology involves placing sensors around the home, and as the person walks around, the system builds a blueprint of their normal vitals and habits.
It evaluates four pillars: health, well-being, safety, and comfort. For health, medical devices track the individual's vitals, including respiratory rate, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Safety comes through monitoring their movements, including falls or a lack of activity.
Zemplee looks at well-being through the lens of taking medication and eating in a timely manner. Finally, comfort is analyzed by determining if their home environment is adaptive and accessible. Loved ones, caretakers, or physicians can monitor their health from afar and will receive an alert if the AI notices a potentially dangerous change.
The information is not shared with any third parties, as Zemplee is bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a law that protects patient data.
Zemplee comes at a much lower price point than in-person care, with costs for non-clinical settings averaging $80 to $100 per month, depending on the number of sensors required to equip the home. That compares to thousands of dollars a month for in-home care from a trained caregiver.
If a user doesn't already have WiFi, buying it is unnecessary, as the system comes with a 5G cellular connection; Users only need to plug it in. 5G is faster, more reliable, and more secure. The wireless standard was designed to support billions of internet-connected devices. Those features are crucial for Zemplee to work, especially to ensure timely and preemptive interventions for elderly people who may have fallen or need other quick support.
The AI doesn't take videos. "The idea was never to build a nanny cam," Pujar said. "All we wanted was a passive way of checking to make sure they're okay or not. It's non-intrusive, non-interventional, and the only time you intervene is when something breaks, right? So that's no different than how you would interact if you were physically in the presence of these people."
Pujar added: "So what we're doing is creating that sort of virtual mirror environment, which enables that same level of experience for a caregiver who wants to care for their elderly parents, but in such a way that it obviates the need for physical presence."
Pujar started Zemplee from California after trying to take care of her India-based elderly parents. She calls herself a sandwich generation caregiver, having kids and parents that require consideration. Her professional background also played a crucial role in creating Zemplee, with experience working in growth and strategy for technology companies such as Yahoo and eBay. "I took all my learnings and brought it into this application," Pujar said.
As a person moves throughout their home, the AI gets smarter, learning their unique habits and health profile. This process allows the AI to carefully analyze if a person is alright instead of following specific guidelines that ignore individual diseases and activity.
"The AI crunches through all these different individual situations and then says, 'Okay, I feel like this person needs help.' And then it sends an alert, or if it's not, then 'This is okay, I'm just going to keep watching this person for some more time,'" Pujar explained. Zemplee provides escalation notifications when there appear to be continual issues. These alerts can lead to a phone call to the caretaker or a 911 dispatch.
Though Zemplee started as a home-care product, the company has expanded into the senior living market. Pujar hopes to further integrate into health systems. She also commends partners such as the MARL 5G Accelerator for providing clear and valuable feedback on the product.
Pujar further credits the system with allowing children to bypass the "How are you feeling?" conversation with their elderly parents. Instead of a parent saying they're completely fine when they're not and the child having unhelpful information, Zemplee allows the conversation to revolve around solutions.
If Zemplee continues to innovate and expand, it may one day keep its creators safe. "I'm future-proofing myself," Pujar said. "If I build the right product, I know it'll help me down the line."