Edinburgh-based technology start-up Smplicare has raised £750,000 to fund research into the use of artificial technology (AI) to help older people live independently for longer.

Set up last year, the firm will use the money from UK Research & Innovation and private investors to study the use of wearable technologies such as Fitbit or Garmin to predict the risk of falls. This is expected to lead to the launch next year of a digital platform to help people better manage their own health.

As part of the study, 300 people aged 55 and older with a recent history of falls will be given a device to produce data that will allow Smplicare to create and AI-powered platform that can predict and proactively alert to the likelihood of a future fall.

Latest UK Government figures show that 30 per cent of over-65s and half of over-80s fall at least once per year, costing the NHS more than £4.4 billion annually. Official data also estimates that the number of over-65s will grow by more than five million people by 2043, placing added pressure on healthcare services.

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Garrett Sprague, chief executive and founder of Smplicare, said the need for such technology is "immediate and immense".

“People often say older adults don’t use technology," he said. "That’s just not true anymore. Technology spending for adults over 65 – including wearables – exploded during the pandemic, up 350% by some estimates.

"It’s not that older people don’t use technology – the reality is that they have a low tolerance for bad technology. Smplicares’ technology is simple and allows users to monitor and manage their own health data via our bespoke mobile dashboard which is co-designed alongside older adults."

The study is being supported by a team of scientists at The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI.