Imperial College London

Mech Eng student develops device to help the elderly live independently

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Monty Alexander and his grandmother

Monty and his grandmother

Monty Alexander and his brother have founded a start-up that aims to provide a solution for in-home care.

Falls are a common cause of injury, disability and mortality in older people, and those who live by themselves are at risk of waiting for a long time before any assistance arrives. After finding out that his grandmother had been unable to call for help for over 8 hours as a result of a fall, final year Mechanical Engineering student Monty Alexander decided to do something about it.

Monty and his brother, a real estate graduate from Reading University, came up with the idea for Yokeru, a non-invasive smart device that monitors movement around the home through motion sensors and notifies the owner’s emergency contacts in case of unusual changes in behaviour patterns.

Wearable devices that address the same issue are already on the market, but, as Monty explains, “they do not solve the problem as they require the elderly person to wear and interact with the device - the effectiveness of these devices is very unreliable if the individual has Alzheimer's, dementia, is frail, lives alone or loses consciousness after a fall”.

Over the course of about six months, Monty spent evenings and weekends developing more than a hundred initial prototypes with different types of sensors. Later on, a team was assembled and they are aiming to start beta trials this month.

Monty used savings from his placement year to fund the start-up; the project also won a start-up competition in Leeds where Ash, the third co-founder, is a student. 

Monty with an early prototype
Monty with an early prototype of the device

On the support and guidance that he received at Imperial for his idea, Monty says: “I have taken the Entrepreneurship module at Imperial which has been invaluable in explaining and informing me from everything from finding customers to raising money. I have spent a lot of time in the White City Hackspace and the facilities; staff have been incredibly supportive. The 3d printers, soldering bays and experts have helped this process more than I could ever have imagined. 

Studying Mechanical Engineering has equipped me with not just the skills required to being this journey, but also the mindset to acquire aptitude in new areas quickly throughout.”

If Yokeru sounds like a product that may be useful to you or your family, you can sign up for beta trials on their website.

Reporter

Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 7090
Email: n.barbu@imperial.ac.uk

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