I’m Isaac Brain, one half of the aWear team. I handle the web server and software development of our aWear system. My cousin, Mitch Torok, designs and builds the hardware, along with the firmware, which runs on the device.

Our Aged Care Watch consists of a physical watch for nursing home residents, which tracks their location. The device also features a motion sensor, which can detect a fall. Nurses are then alerted via SMS, email or existing nursing home alarm systems.

While Mitch and I were working on aWear in early 2018, we began researching competitions we could enter to help us gain experience and exposure. The iAwards in particular stood out as a major national competition run by an influential industry group, so we thought it would provide us with amazing exposure and opportunity.

The iAwards is a great opportunity for anyone with a new idea or a new way of doing things with technology. It provides a pitch environment very similar to what tech startups pitch to investors. As students, getting the experience with that sort of situation was an amazing way to get a taste of that process and what lies ahead.

It also provided a great opportunity for us to meet and talk to people in both the health and ICT industry, which was invaluable. While we both had some relevant engineering experience, we were unsure about actually developing a product for market. Some of the feedback we received from judges, as well as at events like PitchFest and the Gala Dinner, was very helpful in determining our future strategy and direction.

Probably the most important advice we could give is that if you have an idea, go for it! You don’t need to know how to code or build hardware when you start, you can start planning and learn what you need to along the way. While I had some experience coding and Mitch certainly knew his way around an arduino, most of what we built has required us to learn new things. NCSS is a particularly good organisation that helps people learn how to code – both through their challenge, which teaches you to code as you go, but also their coding summer school (which we both attended) and the Girl’s Programming Network.

As for the National iAwards competition, the best advice we could offer is don’t stress too much about the pitch! We were both incredibly nervous beforehand, and the grandeur of the KPMG tower was initially menacing – but when we got up there, nervousness mostly gave way to excitement and we delivered the pitch (almost) perfectly!

Winning a merit on the national stage was an incredible feeling. We both felt like we’d performed well in our pitch, but that didn’t stop us from being anxious to hear the result! Walking up on stage to receive the award was a perfect ending to what has been an amazing experience through and through.

While we couldn’t make it to the international APICTA competition in China, we were incredibly grateful for the invitation. We plan to keep working on aWear, adding a few remaining necessary features to allow it to be deployed, either in a nursing home or private residences, in a preliminary testing capacity. This will afford us valuable feedback and real world-data with which to improve our fall detection model. Should all of this go well, we plan to talk to investors in order to help us begin producing the device and marketing it to nursing homes. We’re hoping the iAwards can serve as a first step to bringing our system to industry professionals and eventually to market.

For more information about aWear, visit www.aWear.site.