In 2012, when Apple acquired technology company AuthenTec for $356 million, co-founder Scott Moody planned to kick back and take it easy. “I swore I’d never work again,” says Moody, an N.C. State University graduate who turns 60 this month.
Moody is now chief executive officer of Raleigh-based K4Connect, which develops technology for older adults and people with disabilities. After raising nearly $10 million from investors including Intel Capital, Sierra Ventures and home-improvement chain Lowe’s, the business moved to a larger headquarters last November with plans to significantly increase its 26-person workforce this year, Moody says.
Spun out of Harris Semiconductor in 1998, Florida-based AuthenTec developed the fingerprint-sensor technology used to unlock iPhones and iPads. With Moody at the helm, AuthenTec raised more than $70 million in venture capital before going public in 2007. At the time of the company’s sale to Apple — which rarely makes acquisitions — Moody’s shares were valued at more than $11.6 million, more than those of any other officer or director.
Moving back to Raleigh after 32 years in Florida, Moody again was drawn into the startup culture. He and Jonathan Gould, K4Connect’s chief technology officer, started a company that develops smart-home technology systems. “We didn’t pick an end market,” Moody says, until he met Eric Braun, a retired lawyer with multiple sclerosis, who pointed out that the products could be useful for him and others with disabilities.
When The Cardinal at North Hills senior apartments opened in January, the company’s initial product, K4Community, was installed in its 225 units. Developed by Carlsbad, Calif.-based Kisco Senior Living, The Cardinal is among nine communities that have deployed the technology.
With K4Community, everything is controlled through a single app. When a resident gets up in the middle of the night, a light comes on, helping prevent falls. Thermostats adjust overnight. Activity trackers, pill reminders and bed sensors that monitor sleep are part of the package. Residents connect with the community through in-app calendars, messaging and video chats.
Rebuffing a common notion, Moody says seniors will embrace technology if it is designed for them. “My daughter’s grandmother doesn’t wear the same clothes she does, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like clothes.”
K4Connect’s target market is huge: By 2035, the number of Americans 65 or older will swell to more than 79 million from about 48 million in 2016, according to federal data. The company expects to launch other smart-home products targeted at seniors and people with disabilities living in their own homes, but there are no plans to stray from its current market. “We’re focused on the demographic we serve,” Moody says.
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