Meet the man leading a revolution in AI-based sensor platforms

Dr. Haim Amir of Essence is protecting seniors and families in 46 countries. For him, success means providing peace of mind.

 DR. HAIM AMIR, founder and CEO, Essence Group.  (photo credit: Courtesy Essence)
DR. HAIM AMIR, founder and CEO, Essence Group.
(photo credit: Courtesy Essence)

‘We are creating a multi-layered ‘iron dome’ that will protect our loved ones,” said Dr. Haim Amir. “I strive to give everyone peace of mind. 

“And in many ways – Essence is already doing just that.”

Amir believes innovation and creative thinking are key to improving safety, health and well-being – and that is how he has been operating for more than 27 years.

The founder and CEO of Essence Group, which is made up of three companies that together have an installed base of over 70 million devices deployed by Tier-1 service providers worldwide, has one goal: To provide peace of mind to all of his customers through the use of innovative technologies.

Amir has developed a company that sits at the forefront of the worlds of security systems, IoT, connected living and artificial intelligence, providing wireless safety solutions for businesses, families, elderly and vulnerable populations. 

BUT HIS story did not begin with the founding of Essence in 1994. It started when he was just a 10-year-old boy from Morocco and his parents and four siblings boarded a ship to Tel Aviv bound for new horizons in Israel.

As his family’s boat arrived at the dock, the crowd burst into applause at the sight of the “Holy Land.” But life was not as easy at first as they had hoped.

The family was set up in a transit camp, their home a mere 39 square meters. There was no electricity. No shower. The bathroom was outside. 

“I was just a young child, but still, I deeply felt our family’s situation, living in a constant state of survival,” Amir said. “We all had to reinvent ourselves in order to survive. Just to survive.”

The family’s economic situation was difficult.

 ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud  platforms to protect seniors and  families in 46 countries (credit: Courtesy Essence) ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud platforms to protect seniors and families in 46 countries (credit: Courtesy Essence)

“There was no money, but my parents would sacrifice everything for the education of my siblings and me, to help ensure that our lives would be better than theirs.”

Amir excelled in school. As a standout student he eventually joined the Navy as an academic through the Technion, where he studied electronics engineering. During his tenure in the Israel Defense Forces he was placed in an elite unit, where he took part in designing strategic combat detection and anti-missile systems. From there, he was sent to the United States to do a PhD in computer science and electronics at the Naval Postgraduate School. 

He graduated magna cum laude and then returned to Israel. 

“During my service I was part of a team that developed strategic combat systems, satellite missile detection capabilities, and anti-missile defense systems,” said Amir

“When I came back, I asked myself: ‘How can I take this knowledge and protect people in their everyday lives?’” 

He decided to take the skills he learned in the army and the wisdom he gained in academia into the private sector and develop sensors and security systems using advanced mathematical algorithms, radar technology and his vast knowledge in computers and electronics to protect civilians - to make the world a better place. 

He and his wife, Rivka, founded Essence in their basement in Herzliya. At the time. Amir was 45 years old.

“When I think back to those first years, I think that the need to survive, the desire for basic security, became the basis of everything my company, Essence, is today,” Amir said.

ESSENCE GROUP now makes innovative, cloud-based, end-to-end security and healthcare solutions for professionals and end-users – solutions that solve real-life problems and make people’s lives better. All of the company’s systems are designed to provide their users with security and peace of mind, at home and on the go.

The group is active in three major industries: security, healthcare and skincare.

 ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud  platforms to protect seniors and  families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence) ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud platforms to protect seniors and families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence)

“Today, Essence’s systems are already installed in more than four million homes,” Amir said with a smile. “Our sensors, controllers and AI-based algorithms are deployed in 46 countries across the globe. 

“But my true pride and joy is that innovative Israeli technologies save lives every hour of every day - all over the world.”

Amir was watching his parents age at around the time that the company was founded. He was overcome with a desire to make their lives better and safer while still allowing them to be at home. The Essence SmartCare system, a package of technology solutions catered to the senior market, was developed. 

MDsense, an advanced AI-based RADAR fall detection system, provides monitoring and immediate response to falls, without the need for seniors to wear an emergency pendant. It forms a key component of the company’s [email protected] product suite, an enhanced aging-in-place telecare services platform. 

The company recently expanded into the remote patient monitoring space with the launch of VitalOn, which combines telecare, wellness and remote health monitoring capabilities into a comprehensive platform for active seniors and older adults living with chronic conditions. 

During the pandemic, the need for such technologies became even more acute, as even elderly people who were used to getting out and interacting with others were forced to stay at home to protect themselves. They also became separated from their loved ones, who might not have been able to visit for fear of spreading the disease but left their elderly relatives at risk with no one to check on them. 

Essence’s SmartCare products played an important part in the global effort to keep seniors safe with major implementations in “COVID hotels” and municipal programs in countries such as the Netherlands and Brazil.

Amir said that his platforms focus on communication and dignity. Rather than intrusive cameras, for example, a battery-powered radar uses AI-algorithms to detect the position of an individual. If the radar senses that he or she has fallen, an alert will be sent to a call center and a two-way voice channel automatically opened. The algorithms can also detect heart and breathing rates and let the right people know if the elderly person being monitored is in stress. 

“With Essence’s technology, the elderly can go on living in their own homes, in their own neighborhood, within their own communities,” Amir said. “They can continue an independent life.”

BUT HIS solutions do not stop there. He also focuses on home and office security solutions to keep burglars at bay.

 ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud  platforms to protect seniors and  families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence) ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud platforms to protect seniors and families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence)

Earlier this year, Essence launched its [email protected]+, the new generation of its field-proven smart home security system, an IoT cloud-based platform for managing all security and smart home functions from a single application. 

Next to launch is the ActiFend solution, which promises to revolutionize security by introducing the concept of detection, verification and intervention in a standalone security device that detects a possible intruder, verifies their identity with HD imaging and then actively repels burglars with a proprietary, non-invasive smoke shield that actively forces and intruder out.

During a recent Zoom interview, he demonstrated some of his small but powerful devices.

“We are creating a multi-layered ‘iron dome’ that will protect our loved ones,” Amir said. 

His company has also taken on a social responsibility pact, focused on developing technologies that are also better for the planet and reduce waste. 

“And all of this beautiful technology is produced here in Israel,” he said proudly.

His company operates out of Herzliya and manufactures in Ofakim, employing nearly 1,000 people, 150 of them with special needs – “amazing people working every day to produce our products.”

He and his wife recently launched the Amir Foundation for Education to provide educational support to families in Ofakim and the periphery so that all children will have a chance to succeed. 

“I want all the children of Israel to have a chance to go to university and study technology and be a part of this fantastic hi-tech nation,” he said. “It is extremely important to me that they become part of the global technology revolution.”

So, for Amir – a little boy from Morocco – life has completed a full circle.

 ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud  platforms to protect seniors and  families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence) ESSENCE USES end-to-end IoT cloud platforms to protect seniors and families in 46 countries. (credit: Courtesy Essence)

“I strive to give everyone peace of mind,” he said, “inside and outside, for the elderly, the children and the whole family. It is the way I give back to my parents and my country.”

This article was written in cooperation with Essence Group.