PolyU-nurtured startups propel gerontech in improving the quality of life for elderly and disabled individuals
Hong Kong, Mainland China and the world are facing numerous challenges related to an aging population, and the development of gerontech has become increasingly important. To address the challenges of our aging population, two startups, co-founded by outstanding PolyU alumni and supported by the University, have made significant breakthroughs in gerontech product development. Their products not only help improve the quality of life for elderly and disabled individuals but also increase efficiency and alleviate the pressure on and workload of healthcare workers.
Libpet Tech Limited, a startup co-founded by PolyU alumni – Mr Jojo Xu, a graduate of the MSc in Electronic and Information Engineering programme in 2021, and Mr Alex Lam, a graduate of the BEng (Hons) in Product Analysis and Engineering Design programme in 2021 – has developed a smart all-terrain wheelchair. The wheelchair, named TENK, adopts an exclusive patented wheel belt system that can overcome rough terrains like grassland, beaches and stairs, as well as cross platform gaps at train stations without the need for assistance from others, allowing physically challenged people to travel independently and easily. Powered by Internet of Things sensing technology, the wheelchair allows users to monitor real-time information relating to speed, distance and battery level through a mobile app. In case of emergency, the smart system can immediately send alerts to caregivers and medical institutions for assistance.
TENK recently seized the National Runner-up prize in this year’s James Dyson Awards. The startup has also secured support for this innovative product from the PolyU Tech Launchpad Fund with funding from the Innovation and Technology Commission under the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities to accelerate the translation of its research outcomes and speed up its products’ time to market. Additionally, as a top-100 startup entrant in the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund JUMPSTARTER 2023 Global Pitch Competition, PREN has received support from the PolyU Maker Fund funded by the Home Affairs Bureau of the HKSAR Government through the Youth Development Fund.
Named as one of the University’s Outstanding Young Alumni for 2023 by the Department of English and Communication, Mr Phil Woo Pak-fai co-founded PREN Limited that has developed an anti-infection mobile toilet. This innovation, named allcareAI™, is a commode chair with built-in sensors. Before using the toilet, the toilet seat and bowl are wrapped in a specially designed seat cover and excretion collecting bag to enhance hygiene and prevent excretion spills. During use, excrement will fall into the bag. Afterwards, controlled by a touchless sensor, the bag with excretion is immediately sealed and dropped into the temporary storage compartment below the mobile toilet, and automatically replaced with a new seat cover and excretion collecting bag. When the temporary storage compartment is full or the supply of seat covers and excretion collecting bags is about to run out, the system will alert the healthcare worker for replacement. The innovation can reduce the average time required for healthcare workers to clean the toilet seat and handle excretion disposal by 74%, while reducing the risk of bacterial transmission caused by direct contact.
The alumni co-founders expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the PolyU Knowledge Transfer and Entrepreneurship Office for the full-fledged support that had helped them accelerate the translation of research outcomes into real-world impacts.
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