Auxivia: improving quality of life
Most people don't tend to let dehydration get to the point of medical attention. Older people however, are more vulnerable to dehydration.
Due to physiological changes that occur in the ageing process, and this can often be complicated by many disease states, as well as mental and physical frailty, the elderly are more vulnerable to dehydration.
Age-related changes include a reduced sensation of thirst, and this can be more pronounced in those with Alzheimer’s disease or in those that have suffered a stroke. Reduced renal function is also a risk factor. The kidneys play a vital role in fluid regulation but their function deteriorates with age, and the hormonal response to dehydration may be weakened.
Dehydration is one of the ten most frequent reasons for the hospitalisation of patients over the age of 65. It is proving to be a persistent problem in elderly people, associated with a diverse range of health conditions such as low blood pressure, increased risk of falls, impaired cognition and even high risk of death.
Although older people should only be drinking 1.5-2L of water a day, often in nursing homes, they are only drinking 0.5-0.8L. This is because caregivers currently record the hydration of high numbers of patients using pen and paper methods, which are time consuming and often inaccurate.
The Parisian startup, Auxivia was founded in 2015 by Antoine Dupont and Vincent Philippe shortly after Dupont visited his grandmother in a nursing home and realised he wanted to help the professional carers and provide them with a solution to help elderly people.
After much research, the founders noticed a pattern forming. Many of the senior medical staff they spoke to expressed their concerns about the lack of a reliable system to track hydration. This helped the duo on their journey to creating the much needed intelligent solution for elderly people, Auxivia, the smart drinking glass technology that alerts medical staff if patients are in danger of becoming dehydrated.
To help get Auxivia off the ground, the founders enrolled at the ‘X-Up’ fast track entrepreneurship accelerator at École Polytechnique. At X-Up, they were given access to a prototyping space, workshops, meetings on key topics, and access to three different mentors.
After years of development, Auxivia’s smart drinking glasses have been launched in over 50 nursing homes across France, with plans to expand across Europe in the future.
How do they work?
The connected drinking glasses are used by elderly patients just like normal drinking glasses. However, they are more sophisticated as the technology used keeps track of each patient’s individual glass which is synced to a small Bluetooth necklace given to the patients.
As the patient drinks water throughout the day, an ultrasound chip at the bottom of the glass measures the water consumed against a personal target set by medical staff. An accelerometer also measures the rate at which the water flows from the glass, which means the medical staff can keep track if water is poured away/spilled instead of being consumed. The technology can also pick up on behavioural disorders in patients who are refusing to drink the water.
An online data platform then gathers each patient’s information to be used by different healthcare groups to manage the hydration policies within their institutions.
The market landscape
Auxivia has a few competitors, some work on drinking stimulation for elderly or clinical setups (Droplet in the UK market); some focus on quantifying water intake but in specific settings not suitable for elderly people in professional care (smart bottles for sedentary people or products for wellness).
Philippe commented: “In general they are all small companies, we see them as evangelism for the hydration market more than competitors.
"In nursing homes and home care the main competitor to our ‘smart drinking glass’ solution is manual tracking with digital solutions (tablets or barcode scanners). The elderly care market lags behind in the adoption of technology tools so we find ourselves in competition with other digital/smart services for the same budget."