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Noise is a significant problem in hospitals, costing them patient satisfaction and possibly dollars now that certain payments are tied to satisfaction metrics. It also can be a source of conflict and dissatisfaction in the hospitality and property rental industries, which is why Quietyme, a startup in Madison, Wisconsin, thinks it is sitting on a big business opportunity.
CEO John Bialk explained that his company already has pilot deals with more than 20 hospitals right now. Quietyme makes a ZigBee-based series of sensors that track the noise levels and then sells an analytics service to monitor them. The software is more expensive in the initial months when it is learning and tracking noise and then teaching the nurses in the hospital how to reduce it. Then the cost drops to a cheaper maintenance mode fee.
The system works by placing a noise sensor in each room and hallway and then measuring the noise levels. The software looks for the peak levels for each second of the day because average noise is useless since there’s generally a lot of silence. When shown graphs of peak noise throughout the day, especially during times when people are sleeping, it becomes an effective tool to train people to change their behaviors.
Bialk said the ability to show people how their behavior affected noise levels that day was essential to helping them change their habits. The immediacy of the data is what enables people to change. It also can help bring the nurses into the process as collaborators because they can see the noise spikes and recollect what they were doing when it happened. That allows them to see where they can change.
Outside of hospitals, Quietyme is also being used in apartments, in part because noise is also an issue that can set neighbors against each other, but also because the sensors track humidity, temperature and light levels. A rise in humidity can indicate a leaky pipe before it bursts or sudden change in temperature can tell a property owner if something is amiss.
Those same sensors are also why the hotel industry is so interested in the company’s products as well. Bialk, who was in property management prior to getting involved in startups, said that he thinks real estate is an area where the internet of things can have significant effects if companies want to build markets there. Considering the benefits of connected locks, data aggregating sensors and other connected products, he’d likely find plenty of others who would agree with him.
For example, the company, which was founded in 2013, has raised about $1.2 million in two rounds with American Family Insurance’s venture arm as its lead investor in both rounds. American Family invested because the possibility to stop catastrophic insurance claims before they happen, thanks to sensors in hotels or apartments, is worth investigating. Bialk said the system already detected a pipe that was on the verge of bursting in a hotel.
So far last year Quietyme has made just over $300,000 in revenue in 2014 and is still trying to meet demand for its products in the market that is serving today. It has plenty of room to expand and plans to add more sensors over time. Water sensors to check for leaks are next for example. As the focus intensifies on the smart home, Quietyme plans to make the most out of selling similar products into the commercial markets.