Onafhankelijke journalistiek over de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam | Sinds 1953
18 mei 2024

& Maatschappij

Saurabh Jain prevents falling among elderly

There are around 13 fatal falls every day in the Netherlands alone and the annual medical costs related to fall are more than 800 million euros. Saurabh Jain (29, Master’s student Artificial Intelligence) witnessed the psychological effect of a fall first hand and knew he could design the solution for this big problem.


STUDENT Saurabh Jain



The start “A few years ago, my grandmother got up to get a glass of water and fell down. She hit her head and started bleeding. Fortunately, she is fine now, but afterwards she became very worried to fall again. It made me think: we need to do something about this falling problem among elderly. Many of them live alone and it could be days before somebody finds out. Just imagine lying on the floor and not being able to do anything… Our parents and grandparents have taken care of us, I feel like now it’s our duty to return the favor.”

The golden idea “At that time, I was studying machine learning and I realized Artificial Intelligence (AI) could truly solve this problem. My girlfriend Harshil Paliwal and I developed Huskki, a system that approaches falling in a holistic way: prevention, detection and recovery. Right now, we’re focusing on the first pillar, by intervening before the fall takes place. The solution to this is in fitness. With the right exercises we can help people above the age of 65 gain balance and strengthen their overall body balance. Thanks to AI, the recommended exercise plans are personalized.”

‘Our parents and grandparents have taken care of us, I feel like now it’s our duty to return the favor’

Network “To understand the science around falling, we need experts in the field. We approached a few researchers who agreed to be our advisors. Among them is a GP who sees 10 patients with fall injuries every week and VU professor Mirjam Pijnappels who has been studying fall among elderly for a very long time. Luckily, they’re happy with our initiative. And in return for their knowledge, they can use our application for their research.”

Revenue “In a few years Harshil and I want to make our living out of Huskki. At this point we don’t have to yet, but we do need the money to help the company grow. That’s why we’re looking at all the different options to monetize it. What’s important for us, is to keep the basic features, like the exercises, free. Those should be available to everyone. On top of that we want to add a premium, paid feature, designed to combat loneliness among the elderly. This community function should enable people to have social contact, for example by sending friend requests and making appointments for work-outs in the park.”

Challenge “To get Huskki of the ground, we need early adopters. It’s difficult to talk with our target group. We don’t speak Dutch, they often don’t speak English. Being the runner up in the VU’s Kuyper Challenge helped us a lot: we used the 4000 euros for Google ads to reach our potential customers.”

Study “I finished my Bachelor’s in India in 2014. After that I was working as a software developer and started gaining interest in AI. I saw how much potential it has – this will grow to have an impact on the world much bigger than the internet ever had. Online courses didn’t satisfy my interest, I wanted to dig deeper. That’s why in September 2019 I started my AI studies on the VU. Next month I’m graduating.”

Future “Our next big step is developing a video surveillance system that helps detect falls. It will work with cameras that are continuously monitoring your movement, without invading our privacy: the persons in the images are unrecognizable. In the event of a fall, an alert is sent to an appointed contact, for example a family member. Developing this system is difficult. At the moment we’re looking for an investor, so we can hire more people and move forward more quickly.”

More info: Huskki