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Nectarine Health: Improving the future of ageing with an always-on solution on Google Cloud

About Nectarine Health

Nectarine Health empowers seniors to live more independently with its comfortable wearable device that enables wearers to keep track of their wellbeing and alert a carer if they experience a hard fall at their home.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden

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Leveraging a range of Google Cloud solutions, Nectarine Health’s team of 40 can support seniors around the world to monitor their own wellbeing data and alert carers of health emergencies from home.

Google Cloud results

  • Enables hard falls to be detected in real time with always-on multiple backend instances available on Compute Engine
  • Frees up developers to focus on their core product while Google Kubernetes Engine managed services handle infrastructure tasks
  • Supports global expansion by distributing load-balanced compute resources closer to users internationally

Meets high-availability requirements to help users 24/7

Thanks to advancements in health and technology, people around the world are living longer than ever before. But while for many people age is just a number, the team behind Swedish technology company Nectarine Health is working hard to ensure that length of life can be accompanied by good health, well-being, and extended periods of productivity and social engagement. To that end, Nectarine Health is using innovative AI-based technology to support seniors in leading comfortable lives.

“We aim to give seniors the confidence to live independently at home for longer, without having to compromise their privacy or dignity, feeling safe and secure knowing that if they experience a health issue, help is always at hand,” explains Caroline Pierrou, COO at Nectarine Health.

“As a small team, we want our cloud partner to be developer-friendly. That means having excellent documentation and out-of-the-box tools for developing new solutions on top of existing products, instead of reinventing the wheel and managing infrastructure. Google Cloud ticks this box and is more cost-effective than other alternatives.”

Klas Ahlin, VP Service Operations, Nectarine Health

The Nectarine Health™ at Home remote care solution is simple from a customer’s perspective: A lightweight, waterproof wristband, with a battery life of up to nine months, monitors the wearer’s health and well-being in order to detect and prevent incidents that might otherwise go undetected. The device, which resembles a fitness tracker, comes with a network hub and two satellite units that are small enough to plug directly into wall sockets in the wearer’s home. This creates a network that streams data on movement, sleep, and other health parameters from the senior’s wristband to a cloud platform, where the data is automatically analyzed and presented to carers in real time through a mobile app.

When Pierrou joined Nectarine Health in 2019, the company was shifting its product development focus away from care homes to caring for users at home. By July 2021, Nectarine Health had grown into a team of 40 (and counting) and concluded a successful initial user trial in Sweden to calibrate its system for individual consumers as end users. The aim was to collect insights that can be assimilated with data the company had already gathered from earlier work in Swedish care homes, and to streamline the setup process, fine-tune the app interface based on feedback from users, and adjust the accuracy of its data considering the profile of individuals leading more active and independent lifestyles than a typical nursing home resident would. Meanwhile, the developers at Nectarine Health have been selective about where they put their efforts as a small team and who they partner with to bring the solution to life, explains Klas Ahlin, VP Service Operations at Nectarine Health.

“As a company aiming to deliver a critical service for years to come, we must plan for an increasing customer base as well as for any unexpected issues that might risk interrupting our services, so we decided to be a cloud-native company to leverage a highly scalable and always-available infrastructure to bring our vision to life,” Ahlin explains. “Meanwhile, as a small team, we want our cloud partner to be developer-friendly. That means having excellent documentation and out-of-the-box tools for developing new solutions on top of existing products, instead of reinventing the wheel and managing infrastructure. Google Cloud ticks this box and is a very cost-effective alternative.”

“With Cloud Load Balancing, we can easily scale up our applications on Compute Engine and create multiple instances of everything, so if one instance goes down many others are in place to serve the same end customer. That’s how we ensure that we’re always available to support users and detect when help is needed.”

Klas Ahlin, VP Service Operations, Nectarine Health

Ensuring that help is always at hand

Developing a solution around the needs of private residences brings its own challenges. One of them is ensuring that data streams reliably, 24/7, from wearers’ devices to Nectarine Health’s domains in order to be analyzed in real time. At the same time, the always-on wearable Nectarine Health at Home solution aims never to interfere with users’ privacy. “We’re working hard to make our solution as non-intrusive as possible,” says Pierrou, “so the wristband doesn’t interrupt daily life. We’ve developed it in such a way as to be respectful of the privacy and dignity of the wearer, so it only picks up on insights that add value to the service,” she explains.

To provide monitoring services, the company needs to collect, store, and use data received from the wristbands and monitoring devices, but the data collected is protected with strong encryption. To that end, Nectarine Health ingests data from customers’ homes into its own domains using virtual machines on Compute Engine, which provides the compute power needed to calculate health insights from the raw data ingested from the wearables. After computations, the refined data is stored on BigQuery while Cloud Load Balancing autoscales applications to meet the company’s high-availability requirements. And, as a small team, Nectarine Health uses Google Kubernetes Engine to automatically deploy, scale, and manage clusters, further eliminating operational overhead.

“We need our data pipe to be bulletproof,” says Ahlin, “because any interruption in our data stream could be interpreted as something having happened to the device or to the wearer of the wristband. That’s why we built our infrastructure according to the Google Cloud playbook: With Google Cloud Load Balancing, we can easily scale up our applications on Compute Engine and create multiple instances of everything, so if one instance goes down many others are in place to serve the same end customer. That’s how we ensure that we’re always available to support users and detect when help is needed,” explains Ahlin.

Delivering a consistently positive user experience

While the solution originated to support reactive health assistance, such as by detecting hard falls at home, it also empowers wearers to be proactive about their health by monitoring their own well-being data to prevent emergencies from happening in the first place. “Not only are we living longer than ever, but we’re also living further away from our relatives. This means that we need intuitive and effective ways to help each other remotely. At the press of a button, our device enables reactive care if the wearer experiences an incident, while the proactive part of the solution continually measures activity such as the quality and frequency of movement and sleep, which are important biomarkers for gauging the health of the wearer and prevent falls from happening in the first place,” explains Joakim Karlén, Head of Product at Nectarine Health. Via a user-friendly mobile app created using Firebase, both wearers and carers can access such insights as a graph or a message from Nectarine Health’s systems.

“A sleek design and user-friendly interface have a lot to do with being non-intrusive,” Karlén adds. “Many traditional healthcare systems involve some kind of big red button which signals to society that you need help. We don’t want our wearers to feel like they are categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by a device. People should feel confident at any age and stage of life, so we took design very seriously when creating both our wearable solution and our mobile app.”

To further contribute to this smooth user experience, the Nectarine Health team continuously monitors the battery levels of every wearable device so that once they drop below a threshold, wearers don’t need to worry about recharging their wristbands. Instead, the devices send a signal to Nectarine Health’s system and alerts the wearer and carer that a replacement will be provided. “We’re now in the process of looking to automate these logistical processes and carry them on with as little manual intervention as possible,” says Ahlin.

“We’re now going into a very important phase for any company, which is to successfully commercialize our service around the world. With our scalable, highly available Google Cloud infrastructure, we’re all set up to continually evolve and adapt our solution as our number of users grows, so we’re looking forward to what’s next.”

Joakim Karlén, Head of Product, Nectarine Health

Looking forward to supporting more people worldwide

With the product launch with selected partners coming up in the second half of 2021, the Nectarine Health team is preparing to leverage its cloud infrastructure to support data ingestion and streaming globally. “Google Cloud will play a key role in our launch and expansion to new markets because it has a vast global network which will help ensure that we can reliably serve wearers from any point in the world by capturing data from their devices and sending it to our core infrastructure to be analyzed,” says Ahlin.

“We’re now going into a very important phase for any company, which is to successfully commercialize our service around the world,” adds Karlén. “With our scalable, highly available Google Cloud infrastructure, we’re all set up to continually evolve and adapt our solution as our number of users grows, so we’re looking forward to what’s next.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Nectarine Health

Nectarine Health empowers seniors to live more independently with its comfortable wearable device that enables wearers to keep track of their wellbeing and alert a carer if they experience a hard fall at their home.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden