Free Podcast Transcript: The Founders Report

How your Apple Watch will save your life (literally)

 

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00:02 Dan Miklosz: Welcome to The Founder’s Report. I’m your host, as always, Dan Miklosz. And today, we’re gonna be hearing from Nikita Parikh from Anansi Labs. I saw Nikita perform at the Techn… Not perform. She presented at the Technori stage in… I think it was the July… No, no, no. It was the August. I’m forgetting that it’s already September, this summer went way too fast. But the Technori event in August here in Chicago, and she presented this really crazy software. And the whole deal behind it is that if you’re ever out and you’re ever in danger, your phone should be able to alert people or to be able to send out a distress signal. Think of it like Life Alert, when people fall, like when old people fall, elderly people fall, excuse me, I don’t mean to discriminate. But when elderly people fall, they’ve got that thing around their neck, that necklace, they can press that button and an ambulance will come and get them and help them so that they are not languishing on the ground for days on end.

01:09 DM: Anansi is something similar but it’s software that you would put into your Fitbit or into your iWatch or whatever Motorola has that I see around, and it is constantly measuring your vital signs. Nikita’s gonna get into it, but like how your skin’s reacting, if you’re sweating, your pulse, all that good stuff. And if someone comes and tries to mug you or somebody’s holding you up or you just feel very, very uncomfortable, your skin will tell your iWatch or your Fitbit or whatever Motorola has and it will immediately say, “Okay, this person is in danger. This is not a good situation. Let’s set an alert.” So, it’ll start buzzing and you’ve got seven seconds to turn off the alarm and if you can’t, or you don’t want to because you’re actually in danger, it will send your coordinates and it’ll get in contact with 911 for you.

02:07 DM: I think it’s very important and I think that this software, while it’s very difficult to build now, it’s gonna be something that’s gonna be in everything over the coming years. So, I really liked Anansi Labs’ presentation, I really thought Nikita hit it out of the park so I immediately thought I had to get her on the show to talk through what they’re going through. And they’re actually coming up on a prototype release and she’ll get into that. Actually, you can apply to be a part of the prototype. I know I am, I think it’ll be really cool. And that’ll be in the coming weeks/months and then they’re gonna plan on having a full beta launch in the coming months as well.

02:49 DM: But before we get into this, we’d like to thank our sponsors, Laveer Capital Management and Topping Capital. They are out there hitting the pavement, putting their life in their hands, if you will, trying to help growth stage companies. They are helping with financing, they are helping with coaching, advising, all that great stuff. You can check out their websites. Laveer could be reached at www.L-A-V-E-E-R capital.com. And Topping Capital can be reached at www… Obviously www.T-O-P-P-I-N-G capital.com. Thank you, guys, so much for making the show possible but let’s just get into it. Let’s hear from Nikita Parikh from Anansi Labs.

03:36 DM: Nikita, what do you do?

03:38 Nikita Parikh: Dan, I’m CEO and co-founder of a company called Anansi. We are creating automatic software that keeps you and your loved ones safe and we do this by detecting your fight or flight response when you’re in a safety emergency and connecting you with 911 when that happens.

04:00 DM: I saw you guys on the Technori stage, and you had an awesome presentation. You guys are making the software for it, so the software’s gonna be put in Apple watches and Fitbits potentially. Is that kind of what you guys were thinking about?

04:13 NP: Yeah, that’s right. We’re a software company that wants to keep people safe and the way we get on the most wrists and the make the deepest impact is by licensing our software to people like Apple, Fitbit, Microsoft. So that’s exactly right, yes.

04:29 DM: Let’s say that I’m in a bad position. How does your software help me? What does your software do?

04:36 NP: The service we are really offering is people know the fight or flight response, but to walk you through it, your physiological [04:41] ____ response is immediate. And your heart rate spikes, your skin conductivity changes, you experience physiological tremors. So what our software does is we analyze sensor data and use machine learning to predict that that’s happened to you and give you a seven-second window to cancel the alarm because your Apple watch will vibrate on your wrist and let you know things may not be right in Dan’s world. At the end of those seven seconds, if you haven’t pressed the button to cancel, we connect you with 911, we send them your GPS location, so if you find yourself in danger, you know that help will be on its way.

05:20 DM: It sounds very similar to those Life Alert commercials, “Help, I can’t get up.” But it’s for a younger audience, younger demographic. How is it different compared to your traditional ‘press this button and help will come’?

05:34 NP: So ‘Press this button and help will come’ has been around for about 30 years at this point. There are a lot of startups entering the personal safety space at the moment and they’re all using that same idea at their call to allow people to get help. The cool thing about what we are doing is that the human body has evolved over millions of years to be able to very reliably and immediately detect that something’s going wrong by this physiological reaction. And so, taking away the need for manual input in order to seek help… It’s going to change the way all people call for help. That’s tremendous in my opinion, but also that there are a lot situations where pressing a button or pulling out your phone takes time because it’s the last thing on your mind if you’re in a safety-related crisis because you’re trying to protect yourself. What happens when you’re restrained or when you can’t press that button? How do you still ensure that you get help when you need it? We aim to be able to do that for you.

06:37 DM: So let’s get back to me being in a difficult spot. Somebody’s coming at me or I’m about to get mugged. What are some of the emotions or what are some of the triggers from your perspective that I’m featuring? What’s happening to me that you’re picking up on?

06:56 NP: Your body responds immediately. Your heart starts pounding. Your skin tension changes and you start sweating. You experience tremors on a very minor scale but powerful accelerometers and variables can pick these things up. And a combination of combining all of this data and being able to say whether this response is because of a positive event you’ve been exposed to or a negative one and how negative is really the key in then saying “Dan needs help. Let’s connect him with first responders and do it now.”

07:33 DM: Where are you guys currently at because you’re developing the software? And I can imagine that its incredibly complex and you’ve really taken a very challenging idea to try and bring it to market. What’s your progress been currently? ‘Cause obviously its been enough to get you on a Technori stage.

[chuckle]

07:48 NP: Yeah. So, we’ve created a prototype using a Microsoft band and are able to at this point, analyze sensor data and connect you with emergency sensors when we think you’re in a safety emergency. But having said that, you’re right in that this is challenging engineering problem and requires quite a bit of testing and further development down the line. Our first alpha test is later this year. And if people are interested in signing up to be part of the testing program, they’re welcome to do that at anansilabs.com which is our website. And we see ourselves doing a beta next summer before we get ready to bring the product to market. So there’s a ways to go but we’ve come a long way as well.

08:42 DM: So what was your experience like after being Technori after getting all this exposure? What was the day after like?

08:49 DM: Technori over the years has done a very good job of curating its selection of companies that present every month. So it does two things for a company like us. One is that it tells us, “Hey, what you are doing, it’s being recognized and here’s some motivation to keep going.” And on the other hand, what it does is it gives you a lot of exposure so people who previously hadn’t known about you, or didn’t know about you, now do, and you gain some amount of credibility in being able to go out and talk to people and sell your company.

09:24 DM: Nikita, my last question is, where do you see this technology going in the long term, in 25 years, 30 years, when this is all said and done and this software is in the Apple watches and stuff? What do you see as the best case scenario for this?

09:39 NP: What we’re really doing at our core, Dan, is detecting your fear response when you’re in danger. So, we see that as our first entry point to using emotion recognition to bring meaningful impact to people’s lives. And down the line, several decades from now, I see ourselves having done that for various other emotions as well.

10:05 DM: Nikita, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it.

10:08 NP: Thanks Dan. Thanks for having me.

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10:13 DM: And that was Anansi Labs with Nikita Parikh. If you wanna check out and get in contact with them to try and get on that prototype, try and play around with the newest technology, I will put the website for Anansi Labs down below. I should probably state that Anansi Labs is, A-N-A-N-S-I, Anansi Labs, L-A-B-S. Of course, my spelling is terrible, so I will fact check. But the website and all the links and stuff will be in the notes of the show. You can hit all that up and get on to the prototype. I think it’ll be really cool. Just the whole idea. She gave that presentation and I thought, “Okay, this is cool.” And I’ve really been mulling it over these past couple days and these past couple weeks. As far as, “What do I feel about this?” And I almost brought it up with her is as to the privacy for this like “Do I wanna have something on my wrist that is constantly monitoring my vital signs? If I’m sweating, how much am I sweating, my pulse and all that stuff.” And I guess what it really came down to was, “Okay, well, I could make a stand and say, ‘No, I wanna keep my privacy but God forbid, something happens to me, that could save my life potentially’.”

11:31 DM: So, its whether potentially having your life saved or your privacy. And I thought, “Well, wow. That really sounds like the whole situation that we’re in for the 21st century. We really have to decide whether we value privacy or convenience or security or insert any buzz word if you want. So I think that there’s gonna be a lot of hurdles that they’re gonna have to come up with as far as privacy and being ethical. I think that they’ve got a great leader, I think Nikita is outstanding. I really enjoyed speaking with her, so I’m sure that they can figure all that stuff out. But yeah, that was Anansi Labs with Nikita. We would like to thank our sponsors, Laveer Capital management and Topping Capital who are always out there hitting the pavement, like I said earlier are the intro, trying to make sure that we have everything front and center, they know who’s doing what, what are the best startups they’re working with, who’s gonna be on the next Technori stage, all that great stuff.

12:33 DM: So you can checkout their websites, Laveer Capital Management and Topping Capital, their websites are on our websites, www.thefoundersreport.com. You can also subscribe to our newsletter which is right there as well. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, all those links [12:47] ____ in the description of the show. Please also give us a rating on iTunes, it really helps us get discovered by other additional listeners. And with that, I’m Dan Miklosz, keep building.

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