PERS INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: An interview with LogicMark CEO Chia-Lin Simmons
LogicMark’s ethos is simple: “To protect the personal experience of living life to the fullest.”
The PERS company, which was founded in 2005, has been an under-the-radar player for more than a decade. With a device contract with the United States Veterans Health Administration and business with dealers and distributors across the country, the company has turned its focus to remote activity monitoring and the care economy.
In 2021, Chia-Lin Simmons was appointed Chief Executive Officer. She brings more than 25 years of technology experience into the top position, and PERS Insider was offered the exclusive opportunity to hear from Chia-Lin on a litany of topics, including LogicMark’s role within the PERS industry, her guiding leadership principles, and where she sees PERS heading in the next decade:
What brought you to LogicMark earlier this year?
I joined LogicMark in June 2021. After leading startups and holding executive roles at public companies in the fields of artificial intelligence and IoT, I wanted another leadership role where I could make a real difference.
As a caregiver for both my daughter and my in-law during the COVID-19 pandemic, I experienced firsthand what it means to be part of the sandwich generation, and how the technology that was available for older adults and their caregivers wasn’t keeping pace with the rest of the technology industry.
I was also attracted to the company itself. LogicMark has a dedicated team of people, valuable intellectual property, and partnerships with great organizations like the VA.
What experience do you have in the PERS world? What is your professional history?
My background is in marketing and business development in the technology industry, with a focus on IoT innovation. Throughout my career, my role has been to deliver innovation into the hands of everyday consumers while driving revenue and customer acquisition and developing partnerships.
I’ve worked in leadership roles in technology companies for 26+ years, holding roles in startups as well as Fortune 50 companies, including public companies like Audible (now under Amazon), Google, and Harman International (now a division of Samsung). In almost every job, my role has been to bring innovation to industries or products.
What is LogicMark's role in the larger PERS industry?
LogicMark is the only public, pure-play company in the remote activity monitoring and care monitoring industry. In 2005 LogicMark created and sold devices with innovative two-way voice technology, industry-leading battery life, and an affordable lifetime cost—all without monthly fees.
LogicMark’s role, as I see it, is to continue to lead the market with technology that is simple to use and more helpful than anything else available. We need to begin with artificial intelligence that is smart enough to alert for falls without sounding an alarm because an older adult sat down too quickly.
With a new team at LogicMark, we are bringing back the spirit of innovation and technological expertise to develop true smart technology products for consumers. We are passionate about helping our caretakers find peace in knowing that their loved ones are safe and that those loved ones are enabled to live as independently as they desire.
An additional role for LogicMark is challenging the industry to keep good products affordable. The Wall Street Journal reported, in 2021, that Americans over age 70 had $35 trillion dollars in net worth, representing 27% of all the wealth in America. On the flip side, 15 million Americans over the age of 65 live on annual incomes below the Federal poverty line, and one-quarter of white adults and close to half of Black and Hispanic adults over 65 live in poverty, according to a 2018 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Technology doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.
Finally, the Medical Alert Systems Market and Aging-in-Place markets are predicted to grow 7.5% and 13%, respectively by 2025, as 90% of today’s older adults (over 50) intend to remain at home and age in place. A 2021 MedTech Intelligence consumer study showed that the majority of our “cared-for” populations live in their own home or with a relative. This means that we need to push into IoT for the home market while protecting people’s data and privacy.
Are supply chain issues still a serious concern from LogicMark and the industry at large?
Across every industry, we continue to see challenges to the supply chain, including in ours. We have been fortunate to have navigated this through the most difficult parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to work hard at maintaining our ability to be nimble and to deliver the best technology, at an affordable price, to those who need it.
What steps has LogicMark taken to minimize disruptions to their customers from supply chain-related issues?
LogicMark has ensured that our customers see little to no effects of supply chain issues. We have worked tirelessly to forecast needs and reflect that in our ordering and inventory processes. Like all companies, we work to maintain awareness of future supply-chain bottlenecks and act quickly to mitigate any foreseen disruption. Our customers and their safety always come first.
How did the 3G sunset impact LogicMark? What was LogicMark’s response?
The sunsetting of 3G networks has been a major disruption to many technologies and service providers. Many devices such as PERS, pet locators, home security systems, in-car assistants, ankle monitors, and even some of the networking systems used by fleets and trucking companies relied exclusively on 3G technologies.
For LogicMark, it was essential that we let any users of our older 3G devices know immediately that once 3G was shut down in their area, they wouldn’t be able to reach emergency services with their devices. We launched several campaigns—via phone, email, and snail mail—to reach our users, and we replaced many older, 3G-only devices with new 4G models.
Where do you see the PERS industry in five years? Ten years?
Statistically, 10,000 adults turn 65 in the United States every day. 1 in 4 millennials and more than half of GenX are taking care of elder loved ones. Many of today’s older adults are used to using mobile technology on a regular basis. We must remember that today’s over-65 adults helped to create the Internet as we know it. This demographic change means that the PERS industry must become more innovative to serve a customer base that is used to having technology as a part of their daily lives.
A big part of caregiving for independent adults is being aware of how your loved one is doing without “hovering.” A Forbes Health survey in 2022 of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll suggested that loved ones play a major role in the decision to get a medical device. This means that the PERS industry, in five years, is likely to grow beyond where it is today. As older adults are more comfortable with tech, more rising caregivers rely on it for help and support. In addition, The Senior List’s Medical Alert Device Consumer Usage Report 2020 showed that in adults over 70, 44 percent of people who don’t have PERS devices would wear one if they had it.
In ten years, we are looking at a very different landscape where many of us will have the opportunity use artificially intelligent integrated wearables. In this world, PERS will be just as important as ever in sending emergency help to people who need it. But these AI/ML-enabled wearables can provide predictive functions that help us to become proactive vs. reactive in the areas of fall prevention, health monitoring, caregiving activities, and more.
We are using our experience as caretakers and expertise in technology to integrate more advanced and intelligent features into our remote activity and safety monitoring products. For example, we will create networks of virtual “care villages” to help us easily provide security for our loved ones and peace of mind, in the form of support, for caregivers.
As a business leader, what are three of your top leadership principles?
I have a couple of leadership principles – 7 vs. 3—that I bring to every company and team that I build or lead:
Human-centric innovation: We are innovating for people, not innovating for the sake of innovation. We always keep customers as our focus for the company.
Hire and develop the best talent: I run companies that innovate in whatever industry they are in. That takes human capital. That means a maniacal focus on hiring and development of the best team out there.
Think BIG: There are a lot of steps to get there. But our job as a company is to think big. Bigger than the competition, bigger than the way the industry has been thinking about the problem we are trying to solve.
Disagree, discuss, then commit: We have to give ourselves the space to disagree, to discuss when we launch companies and products. But once we decide, we commit as a team together and we move fast together. That allows us to pivot quickly when we need to, or when we face roadblocks because we are moving together rather than being fractured.
No judgment analysis: We must know what we do right and what we do wrong. Postmortem for products, programs, and projects. We just need to know—judgment free, analytically focused—what we did wrong so we can correct, and what we do right, so we can amplify.
Bias for action: In almost every case, we take action to learn so we can learn from our past and action to deliver the best results.
Deliver results: We are always focused on delivering results marked by progress.
It may be premature, but have you formulated your top three priorities for your first year at LogicMark?
Absolutely! Our priority is always on:
Delivering the best product to our customers
Developing the next generation of products that will transform lives
Delivering results for our shareholders
We are focused on delivering great products to our customer and, like all companies post-COVID, continue to grow our revenue.
We filed provisional patents around AI/ML, fall detection, environmental sensing, signal processing, tokens/privacy, and other areas. The Senior List’s Medical Alert Device Consumer Usage Report 2020 revealed that one in four seniors over 65 suffers a fall every year. We are focused on eliminating false positives in fall detection, predictive analytics, and more.
For our next iteration of the LogicMark product line, we are building out our CPaaS (Caring-Platform-as-a-Service) to not only facilitate our own products, but also drive partnerships with other leading providers. I can’t wait to tell you more about it!
With a focus on the “right people” we hired experienced team members in AI/ML, connected technologies, product, sales, and marketing to our talent roster. New board members include John Pettitt from Google and Circle CMO (former Meta) Sherice Torres and Innovage CFO Barbara Gutierrez.