Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Consumer Electronics for Home Care
As part of the "sandwich generation" I serve as healthcare navigator to my parents and life coach to my daughter. My parents live in Southern California, 4000 miles away from Boston.
I call them each day to ensure they are doing well, exercising, and eating right. It would be great if an "automated dashboard" or "alerts/reminders" assisted my efforts to support them.
Recently, Hiawatha Bray at the Boston Globe summarized the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, highlighting the kind of assisted living/healthcare devices we can expect in the home soon.
My parents use ADT for home security, so why not use that infrastructure to report on their movements, their use of appliances, and the contents of their refrigerator.
I already have a proxy for this kind of home care monitoring. One of my avocations is meteorology and I provide the weather monitoring services for my town (Sherborn) and my parents town (Palos Verdes). Part of that telemetry includes the interior temperature of the building housing the equipment. Since it's network connected, I can watch my parents home to make sure it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
I've found this environmental monitoring to be a very helpful indicator of their well being.
I look forward to the day when home sensors offer a full report that our parents got out of bed, ate breakfast, used exercise equipment, watched television, and generally moved throughout the house in their usual pattern.
Some may consider this kind of monitoring to be an invasion of privacy, but for increasing numbers of older Americans, such tools can help them stay in their own homes longer and offer peace of mind to the family members who support them.
Posted by John Halamka at 3:00 AM
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John, I agree you're on to something here. There's no reason why all the electronic systems within a home shouldn't be capable of remotely communicating their status to help inform the caregivers, friends and family that are assisting with care. We in the process of launching an offering with many of the feature you're talking about, and I'd love to have your feedback on it.
I agree that this is an interesting area. Also when you look at some of the technology that is becoming available, such as Twine ( http://supermechanical.com/) which was started as kickstarter project.
Twine has sensor built in and is designed to be able to easily tell you when something has happened via email, sms or other channels.
The key concepts seem to be:
* Runs on AA batteries and connects to WiFI ( no wires required)
* No programming required to get notifications
I expect we will see a lot of innovation in this space hopefully allowing people to stay longer in their houses and be safer.
Twine and Green Goose are two technologies with lots of potential benefit for remote monitoring. Unfortunately Green Goose has closed down their site since this time last year, when you could see neat applications of the wireless sensors (are my parents getting up from their living room chairs, getting out of bed, reaching for the toothbrush, etc.).
For as much publicity as Vitality received for their pill caps, you'd expect this area to have flourished beyond where we are. But I agree--the future is bright, and peace of mind for caretakers will outweigh the Orwellian stigma of such monitoring.
Thanks for sharing. I would really would like to find some kind of home health care in Palm Beach county for my aging parents. My dad has always been there for me. Its time to return the favor.
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