Health Tech: Dr Ray Liu On How Origin’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

An Interview With Dave Philistin

Dave Philistin, CEO of Candor
Authority Magazine

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Strong leadership: The leaders of the team need to articulate this belief and dream by setting the right vision and expectation with strong leadership. Without such leadership, the vision can become blurred and veer off course.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ray Liu.

Dr. Ray Liu is a leader in signal processing for wireless sensing and communications, both as a trailblazer and an entrepreneur. As the founder and president of Origin, and the pioneer of WiFi Sensing with over 100 patents filed or granted, he led the Origin team to win the prestigious 2021 GOOD DESIGN, 2021 Red Dot Design, and three CES Innovation awards. He was also a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in Taiwan when it was a very humble place on earth. My father is a medical doctor who wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but my love of science and math led me to become a doctor of another kind — as a scientist and professor. As I grew up, Taiwan was transitioning with the ambition to build its own innovation empire, modeled after Silicon Valley. It was in that atmosphere that most students dreamed of working with technology and becoming electrical engineers, computer scientists, or both. Having been exposed to this innovative setting in my formative years, I sought to create something of my own.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I never thought of being a professor when I started to pursue a research career. During my graduate studies, I was a teaching assistant, and my teaching evaluations were among the best. When I completed my Ph.D. thesis, my advisor noted my abilities in research and confessed that I was the best student he ever advised, so he encouraged me to pursue an academic job with a research career. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Throughout my career, I have been lucky to have worked with so many outstanding young graduate students. These students compelled me to push the envelope, contributed many groundbreaking ideas, and developed some of the most amazing pioneering work. Without them, I would not have accomplished much of what I have done.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do extraordinary things, but be an ordinary person.”

I believe we should all dare to take risks to accomplish what has not been possible. The higher the risk we take, the more potential we have to reach the extraordinary. Nevertheless, no matter what we do, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We should remain humble and realize that after all, we are just dust in the universe.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Honesty, courage, and hard work.

Honesty is the foundation of one’s character. In the early days of Origin, we had to raise funding from many private individuals without much legal support. All we had was a handshake to secure funding for early operation, often without a signature. How could people trust that? In a single word — honesty.

To endure a quantum leap and tackle something no one has ever done — and to succeed — is a major risk. It takes courage to undertake the burden of proof and to convince others that the dream is an achievable one. Without the courage to take risks, nothing can be started, and no dream can be realized.

And to reach the dream is a long journey that takes the hard work of a team. Nothing is quick and easy. Only those who persist and persevere will have eventual success.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?

The number of adults over the age of 65 is rapidly increasing, and many prefer to age within the comfort of their own home rather than in a specialized care facility. For adults living alone and/or with disabilities, this option is not always viable, as there are risks of injuries sustained in situations such as falling, or other instances that might arise while the senior remains unsupervised.

Ideally, wearables would be able to help in such emergencies, but a 2016 study revealed that 23% of seniors do not wear monitoring devices for the full number of hours requested by medical professionals. This leaves significant amounts of unmonitored time, during which accidents and emergencies can (and often do) occur.

Origin’s unobtrusive solutions solve this problem by giving seniors more independence while providing caregivers and loved ones peace of mind through trustworthy and accurate technology that can provide a safer and more autonomous solution for home care. Origin’s WiFi Sensing solutions also offer an alternative to the often high cost of in-home elderly care.

How do you think your technology can address this?

Origin is exploring how WiFi can be utilized beyond its current/common applications by offering an inventive and unobtrusive monitoring solution that will be a game-changer for eldercare. By analyzing disruptions to existing WiFi waves, our WiFi Sensing technology provides whole-home coverage and can detect the most minor movements and rapid shifts in motion, which has the potential to save lives in this health monitoring use case.

Our Fall Detection application has the highest rate of detecting falls and the lowest false alarm rate in the industry. Combined with Origin’s highly accurate Breathing AI Engine, the WiFi Sensing systems offer dynamic data and real-time status updates. The detailed alerts sent to caregivers when an event is detected, such as whether the person has moved/recovered from the fall, reduce response times and ensure that the fallen person can get the help they need.

Adoption of this technology is also seamless, as 86% percent of seniors already have WiFi access in their homes, and this option provides an unobtrusive but accurate option for seniors and their family/caregivers alike. Installing WiFi Sensing elderly monitoring devices is a simple process and one that doesn’t require major changes to seniors’ daily life. The technology successfully monitors falls and activities of daily living (ADL) without interruption.

Additionally, the technology behind WiFi Sensing has the potential to generate significant growth for the greater WiFi ecosystem. Already we are seeing an industry interest, particularly with the creation of the 802.11bf WiFi Sensing focus group, which Origin is playing a leading role in, will become responsible for defining the next 802.11bf WiFi Sensing standard. This will support today’s WiFi Sensing use cases as well as future applications of the technology within the health and wellness sector.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

​​My great-grandmother passed away in 1992. Her love for me and her teaching of loving others has been a lifelong memory. It is a bond transcending generations. In her nineties, she was living alone while I was thousands of miles away with no way of monitoring her well-being. Unfortunately, one day when the cherry trees were blooming, she passed away by falling from her bed.

Through my work at Origin, I hope to provide caregivers with peace of mind, open communication with their loved ones, and the ability to monitor their well-being and detect falls to prevent injury or death. It is my lifelong dream to deliver this and help make the world a safer and better place.

How do you think this might change the world?

A recent survey found that a staggering 90 percent of adults over the age of 50 want to age in place, but they are often not able to do so due to significant health and safety concerns. Origin’s technology enables older adults to stay in the home they love and increases the quality of life for the elderly.

The capabilities of WiFi Sensing can also help decrease the stress of unpaid caregivers — a demographic that is often negatively impacted by their duties. The Family Caregiver Alliance reported that 69% of working caregivers have had to rearrange their work schedule, decrease hours working, or take unpaid leave to maintain their caregiving responsibilities. A similar 70% of working caregivers have suffered work-related difficulties due to their caregiving role. The ability to monitor remotely with a reliable and accurate system could be paramount for these caregivers.

Origin proves that WiFi can do more and can play a significant role in improving lives.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

People may be concerned about privacy when implementing a health monitoring system, such as Origin’s, as it has the ability to track and identify people and their movements. We at Origin understand this concern and take it as our responsibility to ensure safeguards are in place to protect and secure data. This valid concern is why we developed WiFi Sensing with security in mind and carefully engineered the technology to protect sensitive data from collection/analysis.

Our algorithms trained to track movement, sleeping, and breathing patterns pull strings of randomized coding that cannot be cracked by bad actors. We use industry-leading encryption methods to store all sensing data so that private information remains safe behind carefully engineered walls.

At Origin, we also avoid cameras, which are more susceptible to being hacked. Because of this, WiFi Sensing devices can be safely placed in otherwise private areas like the bathroom, which is a recommended location for fall detection in elder care. WiFi Sensing technology does not reveal personal identifying information and does not infringe on privacy.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)

  1. A core belief: The first thing that the team should have to successfully make a positive social change is a core belief that the technology, products, or services they are developing are making the world a better place. If your team doesn’t truly believe in this, then no one else will.
  2. A noble dream: Every team member should also share a common noble dream that their endeavor is positively changing the world. Only those who dare to think they are changing the world are those who do.
  3. Strong leadership: The leaders of the team need to articulate this belief and dream by setting the right vision and expectation with strong leadership. Without such leadership, the vision can become blurred and veer off course.
  4. Corporate culture: Next comes the creation of a corporate culture that nurtures a positive environment to bring the team together in pursuit of excellence and success. The core belief should inspire this culture.
  5. A team value: Finally is the development of a team value with a deep conviction that the greatest achievement is fulfilling the core belief and noble dream. All the other rewards shall then come naturally.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Making a positive impact on our environment and society is something that will live on for generations to come. Knowing this impact brings me great pride.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Although no longer alive, I would love to have one last breakfast with my great-grandmother and show her the progress we’ve made at Origin to make aging in place comfortable and affordable. I would love to hear her say to me one last time, “I always knew you could do a great job!”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow Origin’s incredible work at originwirelessai.com or on LinkedIn @OriginAI and Twitter @OriginWireless.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

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Dave Philistin, CEO of Candor
Authority Magazine

Dave Philistin Played Professional Football in the NFL for 3 years. Dave is currently the CEO of the cloud solutions provider Candor