I recently caught up with Chad Layman, CEO of Marquam Group regarding a complex technology project that incorporated artificial intelligence and connected devices (commonly referred to as the “internet of things”).
The project brought together several cutting-edge technologies to solve an important problem confronting anyone responding to sudden cardiac arrest emergencies. The effort, which I learned about last year, captured my attention because of its technical complexity and also because it involved a smaller, earlier-stage company instead of Marquam’s usual enterprise customers.
Marquam is a Portland-based firm that typically builds custom software for clients. The company’s work spans multiple disciplines, including data analytics to artificial intelligence and the internet of things. The firm also works with smaller startups to build new products from scratch. Readiness Systems is one such client. The two worked together to create a new connected product.
Readiness Systems helps its clients stay compliant with rules regarding ownership of automated external defibrillators (a device that checks heart rhythm and when needed send an electric shock).
Readiness Systems CEO Richard Lazar and Layman met through their work at the Technology Association. Lazar saw an opportunity to remotely monitor AEDs to ensure that the devices are ready to perform when needed. To work, the idea required a unique integration of monitoring hardware, wireless data transmission and cloud software.
Lazar designed his devices to fit inside AED cabinet enclosures, taking periodic pictures of the monitored device which have visual status indicators for things like battery life and required maintenance. The pictures are interpreted, and alerts are sent out when an AED needs attention. While not part of the original design, the Marquam team suggested using artificial intelligence to interpret the pictures to create a more cost-effective product.
“The variety of AEDs on the market makes monitoring more challenging and the business model really hinged on specific price points to make the service viable,” Layman said. “It wasn’t going to work with an expensive sensor, so we took the ‘smarts’ off the hardware and trained the AI to do the work.”
When the hardware changes the AI is simply retrained.
The result of the partnership is AED Sentinel. This new product is set to launch in early summer. It includes a low-cost hardware device that mounts inside the AED enclosure and an alerting service is provided on a subscription basis. The product replaces the more expensive human monitoring of devices.
Layman highlights the role collaboration played in realizing AED Sentinel.
“The terms AI and IoT have been around awhile, but it is still an emerging solution in terms of companies actually doing it,” he said. “Real-world products can only emerge with the combined expertise of firms from the fields of hardware engineering, remote connectivity, software development and data.”
And that, he says, isn’t be done as much as people think.
“It was great to be able to help play a role in putting those parts together from a business and product development perspective,” Layman added.
Both Layman and Lazar credit the collaborative spirit of the Portland tech community for the execution of this project.
“It’s very collaborative, and I would argue that the community here is less mercenary than the Bay Area or Seattle,” Layman said. “The work with Readiness Systems and Richard was born out of that spirit of community, with TAO providing the fabric for getting great people together.”
Published in the Portland Business Journal