Former CRN Wireless exec plans mobile PERS venture

Nicholas Puro sees 'huge market' beyond senior demographic
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CENTEREACH, N.Y.—Nicholas Puro, who stepped down as CEO of CRN Wireless in February, is looking into a new venture that would turn traditional personal emergency response systems into a “one-stop shop” for mobile lifestyle monitoring and management.

Puro envisions a platform that would reach beyond senior citizens, the typical demographic for PERS, and beyond standard applications. It would blend physical security and home automation with features ranging from slip-and-fall detection to Web access and the ability to monitor medication use.

“You want to keep [users] connected with their health care provider, their doctor, maybe their pharmacy,” Puro told Security Systems News. “Also, the system would interact with their family. I’m trying to envision a one-stop shop where we combine a lot of different technologies. Some users might be technology-challenged, or some just might want ease of use. You want to just push one button and be able to access and manage everything.”

Puro said the goal is to help people remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible with a system that can be enhanced as they age. Potential users include people with disabilities or specific physical or pharmaceutical monitoring needs. Reminders to take medications or reorder them could be provided via email or text.

“I think you look beyond the senior demographic,” Puro said. “It’s a huge market of people who, if they had the right support and felt comfortable staying independent longer, they would do so. And I think technology can solve that at a very reasonable cost to the user.”

While he is focusing on providing the platform and not necessarily the PERS devices, Puro envisions mobility for the user through a “mini cellphone” that doesn’t have all of the functionality of a full phone. Other electronic devices could be connected to the system for monitoring and management.

“Where I’m coming from—and there are others out there who are going to do it too, but I think there’s plenty of space in the industry—is to have the backbone that these other devices can plug into and be a part of,” he said. “An analogy would be to see the iPhone as the platform. Someone develops the platform, and then you have apps that can work on the platform. Lots of people can come up with different apps that can work for different situations, but they need to be plug-and-play with the platform itself.”

Puro said CRN’s technology would be well suited for two-way voice communication with a central station or health care workers. Medication schedules for the user could be done online.

“So what you really have is essentially dual communication,” he said. “One, what you can do over the Internet, the other being a cellular connection for the mobile. But it can all be coordinated.”

Puro said he was still laying out the groundwork for the venture and it was too early to predict when it would be up and running. “I’d like to say six to nine months, but I still have to flesh out more of the details with my team,” he said.