Connected objects have been proliferating fast, offering more and more services to age well and stay home as long as possible. From connected objects to robots, there is an object that makes each moment of our lives easier.
Many health professionals see in these objects a genuine aid for seniors to stay in their homes longer: they make the elderly’s daily lives easier, monitor their health at a distance and keep them connected to the outside world (relatives and carers).
Daily Life Objects
Connected watches are probably the most widespread connected objects: FitBit, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or LG Watch to name but a few. They record sports performances, send notifications when we get a call, a text message or an email, give the weather forecast, tell the time, etc.
Connected watches can also be used to assist seniors. This is the case for the watch marketed by Arkéa Assistance (a subsidiary of the Crédit Mutuel bank), which notifies relatives in the event of a fall, wherever it happens. Once the alarm is triggered, the watch automatically connects the person in distress with a helpline which can locate the person, talk to him or her via the hand-free device and notify the carers. This system, which is part of a universal design, could be used for all ages: children going to school alone, teenagers coming back from a party, cyclists, participants in sports competitions, etc.
Dring by Nov’In is a walking stick that calls relatives when a fall is detected. The signal is sent automatically or manually by pressing on a button. The alarm is sent by text message, email or telephone and is connected to a geo-location system. The cane has a battery life of three months for ease of use.
Pillo is a smart pillbox that helps with the taking of medicine. It notifies users, stores and distributes medication to the whole family. The designers indicate that this small robot stores 4 weeks of medication, vitamins or food supplements. A miniature camera detects who is coming to take the medicine and delivers it to him/her.
This system help users remember to take medicine and prevents misunderstandings concerning prescriptions. As it is synchronized with smartphones or tablets, Pillo sends alarms and notifications to help with the use of medicines. Users can also connect with a doctor or a carer via videoconference using the touch screen.
Intel has developed the « Connected Wheelchair » project in co-operation with astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. This technology will turn any wheelchair into a connected wheelchair. An app locates the routes taken by the user, records information on how easy it is to access locations, retrieves health information (body temperature, heart rate, etc.) and calls emergency services in case of problem. You can also plug in your mobile phone or tablet to recharge it.
The Case of Robots
A number of Health care professionals fear that robots may eventually replace carers who are trained and provide a presence to the elderly.
Still, robot manufacturers, such as Aldebaran Robotics, all agree to say that: robots are not intended to replace carers, but rather make their job easier: carrying heavy weights, providing a presence all day long, ensuring a thorough daily follow up, etc.
Cybedroïd is a French company that caused a sensation at the Silver Economy fair. They presented Zélie, their robot secretary. Most robots, like Zélie, don’t have a human figure. « We want our robots to look like machines, they are not intended to replace humans. We don’t want them to be become too endearing either; these are objects », explained one of the employees present at the fair. Zélie has a current price tag of €21,000€ and is intended for collective use in retirement homes, for example. This can be used to send emails, or visit web sites, it moves when you take its hand, etc. The next versions should be able to carry heavy weights or deliver sports training.
Sources (French language) :
– Montre connectée : http://www.montre-connectee.net/
– Canne connectée : http://acteursdeleconomie.latribune.fr/innovation/innovation-technologique/2016-04-08/nov-in-met-au-point-une-canne-connectee-pour-les-seniors.html
– Pilulier intelligent : http://www.marchedesseniors.com/silver-economie/pillo-le-pilulier-robot-intelligent/18440
– Fauteuil roulant connecté : http://www.liberation.fr/sciences/2014/09/11/plus-fort-que-la-montre-d-apple-le-fauteuil-roulant-connecte-de-stephen-hawking_1098319
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