Sefora Tunc (24) makes lonely elderly people feel connected through the smart lamp Ibilight.
Sefora Tunc (24) came up with an idea to decrease loneliness among the elderly during her masters’ project. She developed her project, with the help of Novel-T, into the startup Ibilight. Sefora: “Ibilight connects elderly family members with younger family members through low-key communication via a smart lamp.” Recently her startup received recognition by winning the prototype award of 4000 euros at the UT Challenge. Why did Sefora start Ibilight? And what is her goal?
THE PANDEMIC AS AN ACCELERATOR
A little over a year ago, Sefora worked on a technology during her master’s that would help feel elderly less lonely. “Research shows that getting older is a complex internal process. Before getting older, the elderly were independent and caring. Now they are being cared for. They don’t go out that much, and their confidence is declining,” explains Sefora.
When a PhD position in eHealth became available, she saw this as an opportunity to learn more about eHealth and develop her project. “A few weeks into my Master’s Thesis, the corona pandemic started. I could not visit my grandparents anymore, which was hard. And yet, it was a motivator to work harder on my technology to reduce loneliness,” explains Sefora.
CONNECT YOUNG AND OLD VIA LIGHT
A few months ago, Sefora joined the Novel-T START Program to take Ibilight to the next level and learn about entrepreneurship. Sefora: “The idea behind ibilight is to connect with elderly family members via a smart lamp. With our app on your smartphone, you can light up the lamp placed in your family member’s home from a distance. This light can, for example, indicate that ‘everything is okay. It is really simple.”
In June, the prototype of Ibilight will be tested in 10 different settings. “For now, we created a prototype for Android, but after the test, we want to develop an iOS prototype too and do a larger pilot,” tells Sefora. On the 8th of June, Sefora received interest for Ibilight during the UT Challenge. She won the prototype award and received a spot in the Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge.
MAKE AN IMPACT
“My days are long, but I want to make an impact and contribute to reducing loneliness among the elderly with Ibilight – therefore, it feels worth it,” tells Sefora. She encourages students to use their years as a student wisely: “The University of Twente is the most entrepreneurial university, so think about how you can make an impact with your knowledge and ideas.”
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