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Catalight Expands Pilot Study in Partnership with Awake Labs

Assessing the benefits of smartwatch-enabled technology on the lives of youth with I/DD


January 24th, 2023

Contact Info: Paul Fijal

Awake Labs 425-531-3694

Toronto, ON - Jan 24, 2023 - Awake Labs has announced the expansion of its pilot program with Catalight, a California-based social enterprise working to create a more equitable world so people with developmental disabilities can choose their own path. The expanded pilot goal is to assess the feasibility of a smartwatch-enabled technology that measures stress and strong emotions in real-time for youth and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) that are involved in parent-mediated and adult day programs through Easterseals Northern California, which is part of Catalight’s family of companies.

The partnership between Awake Labs and Catalight has been running since January 2022 with 20 participants in California. “We are very excited to be working in partnership with Catalight to expand our pilot. We look to partner with innovative service organizations that prioritize the autonomy, dignity and desires of the people they support. Our partnership with Catalight is an excellent example of how our technology is used as part of a person-centered approach, focused on each individual’s goals.” says Andrea Palmer, CEO of Awake Labs. The early results show that the Awake Labs technology is a promising tool to improve quality of life for youth with I/DD and their families. The pilot will welcome new participants in the coming year and expand its use to their adult programs.

“The past several years have been particularly challenging for youth with disabilities and the organizations that support them. The COVID-19 pandemic put further strain on the already strained system, reducing support and resources available for youth with I/DD. In light of these constraints, Catalight has looked at technology to help bridge some of these gaps.”

said Dr. Vincent Bemmel, Catalight’s Director of Technology and Innovation.

“We selected Awake Labs as a partner as their smartwatch-enabled technology is designed to support people with I/DD to improve their quality of life and increase their independence.”

Technology is not a magic wand solution to systemic challenges, which is why Catalight has made sure that their trained clinicians from Easterseals Northern California are involved in the pilot. They have also developed a rigorous clinical process to assess the benefits of the Awake Labs technology to the pilot participants.

Many families noted improved awareness of triggering situations and stressors in their children’s lives. Here’s what some of the participating families had to say about their experience using the technology:

“I am starting to get more attuned to [my child’s emotions]. All of that would not happen without the watch.”

“It is increasing our awareness and helping to improve the relationship with caregivers and therapists as well."

“The watch helped me recognize that my child was feeling anxious. Having that communication through the watch is awesome. It has helped a great deal.”

“[I] learned how to identify the difference between agitation due to happiness vs. anger. Before [the smartwatch], it was hard to tell.”

One family noted that the technology enabled them to support their child when they were not physically present.

“One day when my child was in school, l got an alert from the mobile app. I saw that they had been in a high emotion state for a large part of the day. I reached out to them and was able to talk them through the situation. They felt better.”

The data from the first year of the partnership indicates tangible benefits for youth with I/DD. The Awake Labs technology has helped participants and caregivers:

  1. Identify new stress triggers;

  2. Increase awareness of emotions;

  3. Increase the parent’s understanding of their child’s daily experience with anxiety, agitation, and other strong emotions; and

  4. Reduce and avoid anxiety events

Catalight and Awake Labs are looking forward to evaluating the next set of clinical data as they expand the pilot for the program’s second year.


Catalight is a social enterprise breaking down barriers and biases to create a more equitable world so people with developmental disabilities can choose their path. They do this by providing access to innovative individualized care services, clinical research and advocacy – all powered by intelligent Xolv technologies. And, through the work of Easterseals Hawaii, Easterseals Northern California and a network of more than 10,000 practitioners they support 14,000 individuals and their families across their life span.

Media Contact: Teri Kuehnast

Contact Phone: 925-967-5457

Awake Labs is a software company that builds technology to support people with cognitive disabilities. Using wearables and a clinically-validated and patented algorithm powered by Holland Bloorview, their technology detects stress and strong emotion in real-time to improve quality of life, and increase independence.

Project Lead: Paul Fijal

Contact Email:

Contact Phone: 425-531-3694


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