Check it out

Missouri tech pioneer transforms lives through remote supports

HEARO innovates independence and is poised to be a game changer.

Smart home, sure. Everyone’s familiar. But some of that is frustrating, too technical or expensive. It can also save lives or prevent major catastrophe – especially when we’re talking about vulnerable populations, like the aging population or those with a developmental disability (DD).

“What HEARO brings to the table is engineering and technical knowledge and an understanding of how that can be used to improve the lives of the individuals in this space,” said Myke Bates, CEO and co-founder of HEARO, an efactory alumni company.

HEARO focuses on building technology that can improve independence and identify safety threats in a home. That can look like a lot of different gadgets and gizmos, but primarily, it’s all about monitors, reminders and integration with healthcare personnel or caregivers.


Bates cofounded Eagle Speak alongside Jason Arend in 2015. They participated in the first efactory accelerator program, and through the accelerator, they connected with Jim Carr, who became a primary investor (and CEO until 2023).

“Eagle Speak – what we wanted to do was create a really nice native desktop chat application for quickly starting or joining a voice/video chat and seamless file and screen sharing. And just basically buck the norm of every chat system that existed out there,” he said. “This was in a pre-COVID world when the best thing going was Skype.”

Through connections at efactory, Eagle Speak met Tim Dygon from Arc of the Ozarks. A long-time efactory partner, Arc of the Ozarks specializes in giving the DD population independence. It wasn’t long before Carr and the Eagle Speak team began riffing about how more technology could be infused into addressing issues he saw.

When you meet Bates, it’s not surprising that they jumped on this idea. He’s quick on his feet, rapid-fire in fact, and with an ad agency background, he’s used to brainstorming. This background, plus a deep knowledge of the tech side, made Eagle Speak, and now HEARO, incredibly nimble.

“We got some sensors, started prototyping them real quick, then slapped together a proof of concept and showed it to Tim,” he said.

Dygon told them, “If this can exist, companies like Arc of the Ozarks and plenty of other organizations would be excited. This is sorely needed.”

Not only that, he suggested getting it in front of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, who were also quite impressed.

Seeing this potential, but without really intending to do so, the Eagle Speak team just began investing all their energy into Hearo. You could say they put all their bytes in one cloud.

Then, in 2019, Hearo bought out Eagle Speak.

“It wasn’t as if we even made a specific decision to stop working on Eagle Speak. Hearo was just too perfect not to pour all our efforts into. Eagle Speak is still technically owned by HEARO,” Bates added.

Difference makers

Now as HEARO, they’re hearing all the success stories from caregivers. Here’s just one story:

“As one of her caregivers, I have seen so much progress over the weeks of using the HEARO system,” said one caregiver from a local agency.

In this case, the individual needs reminders to complete tasks, such as to take medication or turn appliances off, as well as safety reminders, like to use a walker in the home. The individual can get irritated if these reminders interrupt her daily regiment of television shows and her tendency has always been to quickly dismiss similar alarms.

But HEARO allows caregivers to personalize the experience, using consistent voice reminders and simple technology that’s integrated into the home. For example, it can remind her to not tap the tablet screen until she’s actually swallowed the pill. In her case, she has severe dementia and needs many reminders daily to keep her safe and to give her context about her circumstances.

It’s so personalized that the caregivers have programmed Perry Mason trivia into her day. The repetition of the trivia is working in improving her memory. Recently, she turned around and recited a piece of this trivia to her speech therapist. Through the stories her caregiver shares, it’s obvious HEARO is giving more than television breaks to this client. It’s feeding her brain, and she is proud of the new facts she’s learning. All in all, it is helping her to maintain a sense of individuality and independence.

Myke Bates shows off new equipment.

The future

Bates says that he’s always been proud of his Midwest roots and has relished the idea of doing innovative stuff in an area that has not always been seen as super cool.

“Missouri is actually on the leading edge of ushering in a new era of tech utilization in spaces otherwise slow to adopt. MO was actually helping carve out a path for technology first.”

And HEARO hasn’t stopped innovating. Recently, they worked on a device that would help sense noise levels for an independent-living individual that was at risk of eviction. The client was having such a good time living independently that he was up until the wee hours playing video games loudly. After neighbors complained of the noise disturbance and the landlord threatened eviction, Arc of the Ozarks asked Bates about options. And of course, they came up with one that would sense the noise and remind the tenant to keep it down to a dull roar.

Another commonly problem they’re addressing? Theft from individuals.

A partner agency in St. Louis contacted Bates stating that their clients stored money in locked cash boxes in their rooms. In an effort to curb theft, they wanted to know when the boxes were opened and by who. To assist their clients (who might forget a code), they also wanted to have the ability to remotely open the boxes.

“Two weeks later we had a working prototype,” he said.

They took a generic safe with a fingerprint reader, analyzed it and found a way to integrate their custom circuit board. With this, it becomes a smart safe with access notifications and remote-controlled unlocking. A production version will be on the market soon and could be a game changer.

That’s what HEARO wants to be – a game changer. A team that can adapt to new technology and changing markets – and imagine new possibilities.

“That’s kind of in our DNA,” he said. “Everything we’re doing here can work in other areas. And we’re sure not to box ourselves into a corner. We want to go where there’s a need and flex our skills there.”