2/2015

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Safety nets: 9Solutions launches gTag

It’s been a good year for 9Solutions, the Oulu-based healthcare sensor network company. Their healthcare safety and productivity solutions are selling well, they won the Management and Hospital M&K award in February, and their latest product is coming out soon, with monitoring apps for all three mobile ecosystems. Things are looking bright. “We hit our last year’s net sales in May, so we’re growing steadily”, explains CEO Sami Herrala.

9Solutions keeps doing things to live up to their Credo: taking care of people. Their new product is in the same category, Herrala explains: “An increasing number of elderly people are living in their own homes, which, of course is good – but when signals of forgetfulness or physical weakness start coming up, that place can be dangerous.” He gives an example: if a person suffers from memory loss, or even Alzheimer’s, the immediate family needs to know if something is amiss. So they’ve designed a product that does just that, and more.

Technology without the hassle

Sami Herrala hands over a green-white cardboard box, ready for shipping. Under the slanted cover is a small black bracelet, about the size of a wristwatch. It’s called gTag, and it comes ready with an integrated SIM card, with minimal fidgeting expected from the customer. The device has GPS and LTE connectivity, and connects seamlessly to the 9Solutions locating system. They’re making two versions: the Pro is for home care professionals, while the Companion is for the elderly themselves, giving location and weather data, and connecting to other devices in the network such as stove guard or smoke alarms. “The gTag is also for the other family members, who can be alerted by the 9Solutions Smooth Lite app, which is available first for Windows phones by the end of August, and iOS and Android in a month’s time”, Herrala explains.

The idea is to get more information in the early phases of diseases that bring out unusual behaviour in the elderly, such as disorientation, so if that unplanned walk in the middle of the night happens, the device can send an automatic alarm, which is then picked up either by professional personnel in a care home, or by a family member with the app. “We have plans to broaden our product lines in this vein, towards improved communication between family and professionals, and increase the role of the family members.” In Herrala’s opinion, home care has obsolete basic technologies that are from the 1980s and is in dire need of updating.

Constant recruiting

With the increase in revenue, 9Solutions is constantly recruiting, but sometimes this is met with some difficulty. “For instance, in our previous recruitment, we received more than 40 applications – of which only one came from Finland. Whether the job description was too challenging for the applicants here, or everyone already has a job, I don’t know, but it would seem there’s is a shortage of server back-end programmers.” It’s obvious that the jobs are challenging: 9Solutions needs to have a strict proof of delivery in their service, and this means running a tight ship.

So, things are going well – Sami Herrala says that their 3rd quarter goals are only 2% away with a month to go and a month for summer holidays. “We currently are in business with over 400 care homes and hospitals as their clients now in Finland alone”, Herrala says. Although global markets are lucrative, they’re in no hurry. “We’re going to do this one piece at a time – Scandinavia first, then Europe.”