#19: Ontario-based businesses and the innovation born as a result of COVID-19
The “sandwich generation” has become more prevalent with the rise of COVID-19.
This generation — made up of parents of dependent children, as well as caregivers of aging parents, or those living with conditions like dementia, who simultaneously balance caregiving with careers — are facing even more challenges as the pandemic continues.
This year, WeTraq, an Ontario-based, Health Canada-certified tech company founded in 2016, set out to improve the mental health and caregiving capabilities of this generation with a powerful, easy-to-use application that provided family caregivers with the ability to remotely monitor the whereabouts and mobility behaviours of loved ones. When COVID-19 hit, WeTraq’s innovative app became even more pragmatic and they retooled their technology to assist with fighting the pandemic.
Before March 2020, WeTraq was strictly focused on its credit-card-sized location monitoring device for parents and caregivers concerned about the safety and well-being of their families — think children, teenagers, seniors wanting to age-in-place or those affected with medical conditions like severe autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and more. This IoT-based personal tracking solution combined enhanced GPS technology with WIFI and cellular radio to allow caregivers to monitor the location of their kids or parents anytime, from anywhere. The device captured mobility behaviour, which was then further analyzed by its backend IoT platform using a proprietary algorithm. When COVID-19 hit, they shifted their focus toward building mobile solutions that could be downloaded on any smartphone to increase their market size, improve adoption rate with low-cost for the consumer and low operational costs for WeTraq. In the early stages of COVID-19, health authorities repeatedly expressed that tracing the movements and contacts of those exposed to the virus is one way to contain it. During this time, public-health officials had to interview those infected to determine who they had close contact with. These officials then had to reach out to those contacts to advise them to monitor for symptoms or to self-isolate. It was a laborious process during which others were potentially and unknowingly exposed.
“All startups must solve problems. Our company’s mission has always been to improve the mental health and quality of life for both care partners as well as care recipients. At times of change the methodology of solving a particular problem is the answer to the success of your company. Persistence is crucial but so is adaptability.”