The students Adrian Brodesser, Paul von Ahsen, Andreas Braun and Ruben Asuo are working on a product that could prove to be very useful for older people. This inflatable device is designed to lift them if they fall and cannot stand up on their own. We talked with Andreas Braun about this startup.
How did you come up with the idea for this tool?
We did our civil service as paramedics at the Red Cross in Vienna. After a short time, we noticed that many older people fall down on the floor and they are not injured at all but just too weak to get up. Even if they live with a partner, the other person may not have the strength to lift them. So, what do they do? The classic scenario is that they call an ambulance. So, for example, the paramedics get a call, we drive through Vienna, and meet a husband who says, “my wife is lying down on the floor.” We pick her up, conduct a health check, and it only takes five seconds. Then we have to fill out a lot of papers and they pay 36 euros for assistance. And this happens, on average, once or twice a day for a paramedic team during an 8-12 hour shift. In one extreme scenario, a woman called us three times in one day! She just kept falling down. She was not injured, but she simply could not get up alone. And so we had an idea: maybe she needs a personal device that would help her to get up.
And if a person is alone, can he or she use such a device?
Yes. But the device should be close by. Otherwise, a person on the floor needs a partner to bring the device. Usually, the people who fall down are able to crawl or roll a bit. So the basic principle of our device is that when you fall down, a partner (who must be mobile) can bring you the device and roll it out for you. This process is easy enough that a physically impaired person can do this. Therefore, in this situation, no ambulance is needed. You roll to a flat mattress and the mattress fills up with air and expands to chair. When the problem is solved, the air gets removed from the device and its owner can fold it back and store it. We called our tool “LuftLift.”
So it should have some button and work from some electric energy source?
Yes, just one button up and down and a small air pump with batteries included and a remote control.
Sounds like you have done some product development. What stage are you in now?
We received our prototype (after a long long wait) on Monday, the 8th of October. After that, we will test two prototypes with different designs and also redefine our current prototype. At the moment we are using a pump produced by another company, but in the future, we will develop our own control unit for the up and down functions. We want to make our own because it should have several layers of caution that should be controlled separately. You can watch a video of our first tests, with an air mattress and a person lying on it. That’s our teammate actually on the video! As you can see, it’s just a normal mattress from a store, but in reality, it will lift much higher and will have hip support.
Who will produce these gadgets?
Our production partner is No Problaim. Normally, they make inflatable devices for other companies. For us, it will be custom made. As of January of this year, we have been participating in a program called AWS-first (more info here) which provides Workshops, Mentoring, expertise, and funding for us.
How is Impact Hub Vienna supporting your project?
We are members of Impact Hub Vienna, and the network gives us a lot of connections. We connect with other actors in the industry and other startups. We are all gathering under one common umbrella, so we can profit from one another.
Who are you currently working with on this project?
Right now we are in close cooperation with Red Cross, Caritas and other organizations that provide assistance to older people. They are quite interested in this product because many nurses have orthopedic problems due to the fact that they are lifting up people all the time. They already have machines that move people from bed to bed, but our project is the first one to offer a device to lift people from the floor. So we take our prototype, go to them, get the feedback and develop the device following their advice. We will continue working on the prototype until the moment they tell us that it is a viable product for what they need. We don’t have a specific deadline for this project, our focus is really to make it properly.
Do you have a business plan and what will be the estimated price of «LuftLift»?
Our goal is to sell one unit for about 500 euros, which includes a very slim profit margin. We would like to make it as cheap as possible, and the final price will depend on the number of devices being produced.
What do you see in the future for your startup?
Right now we are a group of four students, and we have not yet started any company, officially. It’s really our hobby because we’re also in university and have other projects going on. Of course, we are thinking about it, but we can not say how exactly we will develop the project in the future. We don’t know if we will go hard in the private sector. We want to check out our prototype and approach potential customers to see where the biggest need is. For example, if the nursing homes say they need it, it will be a focus.
How can people support your project?
If you are interested in our project or would like to support us, you can reach us under firstname.lastname@example.org!