It’s not a bubble, really! Or developing? Analysis of Rock Health’s verdict on 2018’s digital health funding.

The doors were blown off funding last quarter, so whither the year? Our first take 10 January on Rock Health’s 2018 report was that digital health was a cheery, seltzery fizzy, not bubbly as in economic bubbles.  Total funding came in at $8.1 billion–a full $2.3 bn or 42 percent–over 2017’s $5.7 bn, as projected in Q3 [TTA 11 Oct]–which indicates confidence and movement in the right direction.

What’s of concern? A continued concentration in funding–and lack of exiting.

  • From Q3, the full year total added $1.3 bn ($6.8 bn YTD Q3, full year $8.1 bn) 
  • The deals continue to be bigger and fewer–368 versus 359 for 2017, barely a rounding error
  • Seed funding declined; A, B, C rounds grew healthily–and D+ ballooned to $59M from $28M in 2017, nearly twice as much as C rounds
  • Length of time between funding rounds is declining at all levels

Exits continue to be anemic, with no IPOs (none since 2016!) and only 110 acquisitions by Rock Health’s count. (Rock only counts US only deals over $2 million, so this does not reflect a global picture.)

It’s not a bubble. Really! Or is it a developing one? Most of the article delivers on conclusions why Rock Health and its advisors do not believe there is a bubble in funding by examining six key attributes of bubbles. Yet even on their Bubble Meter, three out of the six are rated ‘Moderately Bubbly’–#2, #3, and #5–my brief comments follow. 

  1. Hype supersedes business fundamentals (well, we passed this fun cocktail party chatter point about 2013)
  2. High cash burn rates (not out of line for early stage companies)
  3. Unclear exit pathways (no IPOs since ’16 which bring market scrutiny into play. Oddly, Best Buy‘s August acquisition of GreatCall, and the latter’s earlier acquisitions of Lively and Healthsense didn’t rate a mention)
  4. Surge of cash from new investors (rising valuations per #5–and a more prosperous environment for investments of all types)
  5. High valuations decoupled from fundamentals (Rock Health didn’t consider Verily’s billion, which was after all in January)
  6. Fraud or misuse of funds (Theranos, Outcome dismissed by Rock as ‘outliers’, but no mention of Zenefits or HealthTap)

Having observed bubbles since 1980 in three industries– post-deregulation airlines in the 1980s, internet (dot.com) in the 1990s, and healthcare today (Theranos/Outcome), ‘moderately’ doesn’t diminish–it builds to a peak, then bursts. Dot.com’s bursting bubble led to a recession, hand in hand with an event called 9/11.

This Editor is most concerned with the #5 rating as it represents the largest divergence from reality and is the least fixable. While Verily has basically functioned as a ‘skunk works’ (or shell game–see here) for other areas of Google like Google Health, it hardly justifies a billion-dollar investment on that basis alone. $2 bn unicorn Zocdoc reportedly lives on boiler-room style sales to doctors with high churn, still has not fulfilled its long-promised international expansion, and has ceased its endless promises of transforming healthcare. Peleton is a health tech company that plumps out Rock Health’s expansive view of Health Tech Reality–it’s a tricked out internet connected fitness device. (One may as well include every fitness watch made.)

What is the largest divergence from reality? The longer term faltering of health tech/telecare/telehealth companies with real books of business. Two failures readily come to mind: Viterion (founded in 2003–disclosure, a former employer of this Editor) and 3rings (2015). Healthsense (2001) and Lively were bought by GreatCall for their IP, though Healthsense had a LTC business. Withings was bought back by the founder after Nokia failed to make a go of it. Canary Care was sold out of administration and reorganized. Even with larger companies, the well-publicized financial and management problems of publicly traded, highly valued, and dominant US telemed company Teladoc (since 2015 losing $239 million) and worldwide, Tunstall Healthcare’s doldrums (and lack of sale by Charterhouse) feed into this. 

All too many companies apparently cannot get funding or the fresh business guidance to develop. It is rare to see an RPM survivor of the early ’00s like GrandCare (2005). There are other long-term companies reportedly on the verge–names which this Editor cannot mention.

The reasons why are many. Some have lurched back and forth from the abyss or have made strategic errors a/k/a bad bets. Others like 3rings fall into the ‘running out of road and time’ category in a constrained NHS healthcare system. Beyond the Rock Health list and the eternal optimism of new companies, business duration correlates negatively with success. Perhaps it is that healthcare technology acceptance and profitability largely rests on stony, arid ground, no matter what side of the Atlantic. All that money moves on to the next shiny object.(Babylon Health?) There are of course some exceptions like Legrand which has bought several strong UK companies such as Tynetec (a long-time TTA supporter) and Jontek.

Debate welcomed in Comments.

Related: Becker’s Hospital Review has a list of seven highly valued early stage companies that failed in 2018–including the Theranos fraud. Bubble photo by Marc Sendra martorell on Unsplash

3rings’ well-handled transition to their March shutdown (updated)

In late summer [TTA 19 Sep] we learned that one of the most innovative UK companies in sensor-based assistive technology, 3rings, was ceasing operations as of March 2019’s end. We noted it was a planned shutdown that gave subscribers nearly six months to switch over to other technologies. Steve Purdham and his team have recommended three companies that in their estimation are good alternatives to 3rings in both their original electrical Plug (electric usage as a proxy for being up and around) and cloud-based IoT service. Three companies are recommended in detail based on needs. 3rings presents all three in detail with special offers, including a handy ‘how to’ on transitioning services.

  1. Clever Contact from Alertacall–a daily contact and reminder service
  2. Canary Care--motion sensor/IoT service which is fairly close to the way that 3rings developed. Canary Care has reorganized since last summer with new ownership [TTA 8 Nov].
  3. PPP Taking Care–pendant alarm

When asked to comment on Canary Care’s recent release (PDF) related to their service as a close fit to 3rings, Steve remarked that “As we plan our graceful close the key for us was to give all our customers significant notice of our intentions (almost 6 months) and where possible provide guidance as to ways forward. We also wanted to help as many of our customers to transition to technologies that would help them continue looking after their loved ones after March 1st 2019. Looking after all our customers means a lot to us so providing this help made sense. The team at Canary wanted to do a press release regarding their deal and I was happy to support it.”

The 3rings closing is regrettable, but the transition of their services to protect their customers deserves a ‘Well Done’. (Undoubtedly we will be hearing from Steve and the 3rings team in future.) Hat tip to Steve, Nicola Hughes of Canary Care/Lifecycle Software, and James Batchelor of Alertacall.

3rings assistive tech will be ringing off next March (UK) (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3rings-logo-only.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Another assistive technology/TECS company decides that they have reached the end of the road.

Mark Smith, one of our Readers and Business Development Director of 3rings, which has been featured more than a few times in these pages over the past six years from Kickstarter days, this morning passed along the sad news that 3rings is closing. From Steve Purdham, the founder and chairman (and updated by him today 19 September):

It is with great regret and sadness that we have to inform you that we will be bringing the 3rings Care plug and Internet of Things sensor service to a close. 

After a journey of 6 years we have taken this decision because the technology adoption within the Social care market is extremely slow moving, which means that we are not able to attain a sustainable business model that would give the quality, and daily operational support that we believe is the minimum we would expect to deliver, to look after you, our customers.

Our customers including individuals, regional council’s and housing association’s that use 3rings as a safety net of care, are very important to us and this is the reason why we haven’t waited until the last moment to notify you of our decision.

With this in mind, we will be maintaining support for the 3rings care service, including the Plug and IOT sensors platform until Friday 1st March 2019.

Given the extended notice period we feel that this provides enough time for you to make alternative arrangements.

The 3rings team strongly believe in the world of IoT sensors and true digital solutions to provide a safety net of care, 3rings has always evangelised this as our goal, we know that digital safety nets of care will change the face of social care in the future. With that in mind we are still exploring alternatives and should anything change we will inform you at the earliest opportunity.

We are truly sorry to have to deliver this message, but can I personally thank you for your support, we are immensely proud to have helped so many families and vulnerable people, and to have saved lives through the 3rings service.

Your support for the 3rings product range made a massive difference, and we thank you for your understanding and commitment to providing to the safety net of care for your loved ones or clients.

Should you wish to clarify anything or have any comments then please don’t hesitate to contact me directly either by email on steve@3rings.co.uk or call me on 01260-222853 or my mobile 07899 803555.

Yours sadly
Steve
Steve Purdham · Chairman

Steve, in his separate note to this Editor, explained that they chose this four-month-plus winding down in order to responsibly look after their customers so that they have enough time to transition to other monitoring systems. Individual users of 3rings will be separately notified as well.

It was, as Mark said, a shock, but as this Editor noted in the Canary Care article from earlier today, in many ways the TECS/AT/telehealth business has not progressed much since 2006. The funding, technology, and consumer acceptance are all better since the early 2000s, but there is a lot more competition with not enough market takeup to warrant it. Even 3rings’ integration with the very trendy Amazon Echo and the IoT space showed innovation, but not the reward.

The social care area is more developed in the UK than the US as a concept. In the US, we speak more about ‘social determinants of care’, with one determinant–transportation–getting most of the action and the money. When you look at the truly disproportionate amounts of investment in certain hot companies with sexy tech, for instance a few ‘unicorns’–the now expired Theranos being the Poster Child–where far smaller amounts funding tech that works in real companies with real customers would do immediate good and would change things in the long term (longer than 18 months, which is the usual VC horizon), one wonders if we haven’t gone a little bonkers.

Yet those of us in the industry remain hopeful. As Steve Purdham said to me in a separate note, “the market has all the tools to change face of social care but the families and the existing structures are so glacial in the acceptance of this change. It will come and it will make a massive difference when it does.” We’re all trying.

We wish Steve, Mark, and the 3rings team all the best–and perhaps a White Knight will Save the Plug. Hat tip to Gerry Allmark of UK Telehealthcare as well for the information.

News roundup for Tuesday: room at the top at VA? (updated), Philips integrates teleradiology. 3rings Care premieres Amazon Echo service

Updated. Who’s the Leader? At the Veterans Administration, the soap opera plot accelerated on the continued tenure of Secretary David Shulkin who, after a strong start (and coming from within VA’s tech area), has stumbled over charges of inappropriate spending and staff turmoil since the beginning of the year. Journalist Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, who speaks regularly with President Trump, indicated in an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that Dr. Shulkin will likely be the next Cabinet departure. The fact that VA Choice 2.0 did not make it into the huge ‘omnibus’ budget bill indicated a disillusion with him on Capitol Hill. The lack of closure on replacing VistA with Cerner is also not in favor of a longer stay. The replacement may come from the VA House committee, the defense contractor community, or DoD. Why it’s important? VA is the largest purchaser of telemedicine and telehealth in the US, and has set the pace for everything from EHRs to info security. And there are those 9 million veterans they serve. Stay tuned. POLITICO Morning eHealth…..

By the next morning, a press secretary was saying “At this point in time though, he [President Trump] does have confidence in Dr. Shulkin. He is a secretary and he has done some great things at the VA. As you know, the president wants to put the right people in the right place at the right time and that could change.” But one of Dr. Shulkin’s biggest thorns-in-side at the VA, Darin Selnick, shuffled off last year to the Domestic Policy Council, will return to a post at the VA.

HIMSS continued to support VA’s and Dr. Shulkin’s efforts to increase veteran patient record sharing through changing the consent requirements authorizing the VA to release a patient’s confidential VA medical record to a Health Information Exchange (HIE) community partner. Letter.

Philips has entered the integrated teleradiology field by combining Philips’ Lumify portable ultrasound system and Innovative Imaging Technologies‘ (IIT) Reacts collaborative platform. It combines a compatible smart device that enables a two-way video consult with live ultrasound streaming. How it works: “clinicians can begin their Reacts session with a face-to-face conversation on their Lumify ultrasound system. Users can switch to the front-facing camera on their smart device to show the position of the probe. They can then share the Lumify ultrasound stream, so both parties are simultaneously viewing the live ultrasound image and probe positioning, while discussing and interacting at the same time.” Release

Following up on 3rings and their integration into the Amazon Echo virtual assistant system [TTA 18 Oct], Mark Smith from their business development area has told us that they have formally launched this platform earlier this month. The person cared for at home can simply ask Alexa to alert family and caregivers that they need help via voice message, text or email. Care staff or family can also use Echo to check through the 3rings platform by simply asking Alexa if that person is safe and OK. 3rings is now actively seeking to partner with innovative health, housing, and social care organizations. Overview/release.

3rings goes Internet of Things with ‘Things That Care’ (UK)

3rings is launching another extension of its smart plug sensor that monitors daily use of a key appliance like a tea kettle or TV with a multi-sensor IoT system. [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/3rings-IoT-hub-and-Sensors.jpeg” thumb_width=”250″ /]’Things That Care‘ uses proprietary ‘things’ (sensors) to monitor patterns of activity and the home environment to create a safety net for an older adult, perhaps growing frailer, usually living at home alone, so that family or caregivers can ‘look in’ to see if all is fine. It also integrates the Amazon Echo interactive personal assistant as announced in June [TTA 27 June].

The other 3rings development is the system’s ability to analyze data for trends and insights (screenshots below). The introduction of self-learning algorithms to detect potential changes in activity that may be early signs of a change in health is a proactive care advance similar to capabilities in the far more complex and expensive QuietCare and Healthsense (now Lively) but affordable for families. It also puts the 3rings system into the professional space for councils and sheltered housing. According to 3rings CEO Steve Purdham, “our new platform gives professionals real time information to support efficient care planning and delivery, and provides a cost effective means of managing risks and providing tailored care to people to enable them to stay independent at home.” Again, we wish 3rings the best with these new developments. Release (PDF)  

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/patterns.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]   [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/trend-analysis.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]

AI good, AI bad. Perhaps a little of both?

Everyone’s getting hot ‘n’ bothered about AI this summer. There’s a clash of giants–Elon Musk, who makes expensive, Federally subsidized electric cars which don’t sell, and Mark Zuckerberg, a social media mogul who fancies himself as a social policy guru–in a current snipe-fest about AI and the risk it presents. Musk, who is a founder of the big-name Future of Life Institute which ponders on AI safety and ethical alignment for beneficial ends, and Zuckerberg, who pooh-poohs any downside, are making their debate points and a few headlines. However, we like to get down to the concretes and here we will go to an analysis of a report by Forrester Research on AI in the workforce. No, we are not about to lose our jobs, yet, but hold on for the top six in the view of Gil Press in Forbes:

  1. Customer self-service in customer-facing physical solutions such as kiosks, interactive digital signage, and self-checkout.
  2. AI-assisted robotic process automation which automates organizational workflows and processes using software bots.
  3. Industrial robots that execute tasks in verticals with heavy, industrial-scale workloads.
  4. Retail and warehouse robots.
  5. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri.
  6. Sensory AI that improves computers’ recognition of human sensory faculties and emotions via image and video analysis, facial recognition, speech analytics, and/or text analytics.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/AI.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]For our area of healthcare technology, look at #5 and #6 first–virtual assistants leveraging the older adult market like 3rings‘ interface with Amazon Echo [TTA 27 June] and sensory AI for recognition tools with broad applications in everything from telehealth to sleepytime music to video cheer-up calls. Both are on a ‘significant success’ track and in line to hit the growth phase in 1-3 years (illustration at left, click to expand).

Will AI destroy a net 7 percent of US jobs by 2027? Will AI affect only narrow areas or disrupt everything? And will we adapt fast enough? 6 Hot AI Automation Technologies Destroying And Creating Jobs (Forbes)

But we can de-stress ourselves with AI-selected music now to soothe our savage interior beasts. This Editor is testing out Sync Project’s Unwind, which will help me get to sleep (20 min) and take stress breaks (5 min). Clutching my phone (not my pearls) to my chest, the app (available on the unwind.ai website) detects my heart rate (though not giving me a reading) through machine learning and gives me four options to pick on exactly how stressed I am. It then plays music with the right beat pattern to calm me down. Other Sync Project applications with custom music by the Marconi Union and a Spotify interface have worked to alleviate pain, sleep, stress, and Parkinson’s gait issues. Another approach is to apply music to memory issues around episodic memory and memory encoding of new verbal material in adults aging normally. (Zzzzzzzz…..) Apply.sci, Sync Project blog

3rings smart plug moves to IoT through Amazon Echo (UK) (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3rings-logo-only.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Updated. Good morning, Alexa! 3rings, the ‘smart plug’ that has been monitoring since 2015 a loved one’s or neighbor’s wellness through their daily use of a key home appliance like a kettle or TV, then reporting that activity via a mobile phone/smartphone app, has expanded to the Internet of Things (IoT) with the integration of the 3rings plug with Amazon Echo

The 3rings plug works with Echo and the Alexa avatar in two ways. The first is for family members, friends or neighbors to ‘ask Alexa’ (the Echo unit) if their loved one is safe, similar to the mobile phone reports and alerts. The second is to place an Echo unit in that person’s home so that the person can directly ask Alexa to tell 3rings they need help. This also sends an immediate alert to their friends/family network.

To this Editor, 3rings founder Steve Purdham noted that with Amazon Echo, the 3rings system is now expandable and agnostic, through the addition of proprietary sensors dubbed “Things that Care” and other makers’ devices to the 3rings smart plug so that families have a fuller picture of the monitored person’s pattern of activity. 3rings Things monitor temperature, activity, motion, open/close of doors and windows, and button, and are priced a la carte or in a package with the Echo. The system also integrates with Samsung SmartThings, purchased separately, for additional types of monitoring. “Through this platform we want to stay ahead of the Internet of Things curve and demonstrate how technology can care.” Steve confirmed that the system is available now via a new website from the original (and still available) 3rings, with a group of users already on board. Full rollout is expected in August. Another advantage of integrating with Echo, according to Steve, is that the system can be offered in any location where Echo is. Also release

Here’s Howz: now electricity consumption as elder minder (UK)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/HOWZ-20Oct2016-668-768×576.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Intelesant’s latest project, Howz, has added electricity consumption to the monitoring set of Activities of Daily Living. The Howz set of multiple sensors generally monitors activity in the home, home temperature, lights on/off, and exterior door opening/closing, depending on their placement, but one sensor monitors electricity consumption by directly going into the meter to determine whether appliances are being used as an indicator of activity. These activities are reported over a smartphone app to those who have permission for reports. After a trending baseline over a few days is established via algorithms, the Howz system tracks departures from that norm and alerts via the smartphone app. This bears resemblances to this Editor’s former company which developed the behavioral telecare (first and still in market) QuietCare system, but the ‘meter reader’ is a new and smart twist.

Intelesant is testing Howz in 100 Manchester homes and is scheduled to be in a pilot with dementia patients at home in partnership with the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. In December, they also announced that they are a finalist with the EDF Energy Blue Lab Acceleration Programme.

Howz is more comprehensive (and expensive) than 3rings‘ single appliance plug which keys into specific activities (tea kettle, TV on) [TTA articles here] but the objective for family peace of mind for older adults, especially those living alone, is the same. Available consumer direct from their website in the UK only (unfortunately) from £199 for the starter kit. New Scientist, Howz video on YouTube Hat tip to former Northern Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

Who’s hiring? 3rings (UK)

Steve Purdham, who is the Chairman of 3rings, is advising our readers of two new Business Development Manager opportunities with his company.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is going to change the future of care and 3rings is at the centre of this fantastic opportunity. Due to expansion in its operation, 3rings, is looking for two ambitious BDM’s to join our digital team. If you have passion to change things then contact Steve on steve@3rings.co.uk

Full details @ https://news.3rings.co.uk/?p=237

3rings has developed and markets an electrical plug that, when the appliances are used, tracks a person’s activities of daily living. The information is delivered to the 3rings app so that family, friends and neighbors not only know of normal behavior but also when something is ‘off’. (Our past two years of coverage is here.)

81 percent interested in tech for older adult fall detection: Carnegie-Mellon

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/fall.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Carnegie-Mellon University-College of Engineering recently conducted a survey of 1,900 US adults on care for their aging parents, as background for a project in fall prevention.

  • 81 percent are interested in sensor technology to prevent falls, particularly among their aging parents
  • 54 percent worry about an elderly parent falling
  • 70 percent of this group have this fear at least once a week, if not daily; regardless of whether the parent lives alone or not

Checking in with parents is a ‘top of mind’ anxiety for most of those surveyed, with most taking a team approach:

  • 44 percent personally or have a sibling check in on their parent daily;  33 percent check in weekly; 12 percent stop by as needed
  • 56 percent have neighbors or staff physically check on their parent daily

Not coincidentally, a team of engineers from Carnegie-Mellon are also researching active sensor technologies that gauge gait stability, dizziness and fatigue to predict and prevent falling–what at a former company we called the ‘Holy Grail’ of fall detection that can keep older adults active and well. No mention though of technology aids for ‘check in’ (see 3rings and also the original notion of QuietCare‘s behavioral telemonitoring.) MedCityNews, Carnegie-Mellon release

3rings enters the Dragons’ Den, comes out with strategic investor

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/steve-purdham-3rings-david-capper-westfield-health-with-3rings-plug.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]About two years ago, we started following 3rings, a Stoke-on-Trent (UK) company that develope an appliance plug that automatically ‘checks in’ an older person based on their morning behavior of turning on a tea kettle, TV or other appliance. We’ve received word from their CEO Steve Purdham that they’ve announced today (Thursday) a substantial strategic investment from not-for-profit insurer Westfield Health. Mr Purdham (picture left) had appeared on the BBC program Dragons’ Den with mum Iris (prominently featured in their ads) to raise £300,000 for a 10 percent share in the company. (For our US readers, Dragons’ Den is similar to Shark Tank or Project Startup.) According to the website release, Westfield Health was attracted to the company through the show, has invested more than twice the funding requested by Mr Purdham from the Dragons, and will be offering the 3rings plug to their current and future customers.

David Capper, their Commercial Director (picture right), acknowledged the attraction of technology in their first major external investment in this type of health tech.  (more…)

‘Déjà vu all over again’ or critical mass? NYTimes looks at older adult care tech

“It’s like déjà vu all over again” as Yogi Berra, the fast-with-a-quip Baseball Hall of Fame catcher-coach-manager once said. About 2006-7, telecare broke through as a real-world technology and the tone of the articles then was much like how this New York Times article starts. But the article, in the context of events in the past two years, indicate that finally, finally there is a turning point in care tech, and we are on the Road to Critical Mass, where the build, even with a few hitches, is unstoppable.

Have telehealth, telecare, digital health or TECS (whatever you’d like to call it) turned the corner of acceptability? More than that, has it arrived at what industrial designer Raymond Loewy dubbed MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) in keeping older adults safer and healthier at home? The DIY-installed Lively! system keeps an eye on a hale 78 year old (more…)

3rings smart plug fundraising on Kickstarter

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/3rings.gif” thumb_width=”150″ /]A note from founder and chairman Steve Purdham brings the news that the 3rings smart plug [TTA 11 Mar], which tracks an older one’s activity through everyday actions such as turning on an electric tea kettle or TV and radio on, is raising funds on Kickstarter through 13 July. Their goal is $30,709 (£20,000) of which $10,306 (£6,712) has been raised with 24 days to go. With product design and testing complete, the funds will go towards facilitating production. Pledges start at £2 and go up to £5,000 for practically everything listed in the lower donation levels, a special evening in Oxford for two and an autographed, personalized picture and autobiography of Manchester United and Scotland legend Willie Morgan. Note: the 3rings plug and service is only available in the UK, but if the service is available later in your country, any subscription pledges will be honored. Best of luck to Steve and the 3rings team! Release.

3rings Plugs in to reassuring families

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/3rings-plug-default.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] Stoke-on-Trent’s 3rings, which we noted over a year ago [TTA 6 Feb 14] as a smartphone/call/text-based family alert system based on the older person’s phone check in, has developed a plug that will do this check in automatically. It’s based on behavior–an older person turning on or off an appliance as part of their daily routine (a tea kettle or TV), based on rules that the family sets up. The plug goes into the wall outlet with the appliance plugged into it. Usage sends a wireless signal to the 3rings portal and notifies family or neighbors that the person is active and moving about. Presumably this is a small appliance–there’s no tech spec that gives maximum wattage. (The plug may short out if Dad likes to get up to ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ on his McIntosh amplifiers driving two Klipschorn floor speakers.) A subscription service at £12 per month, with the plug at laddered prices of £79 inclusive of the first month, £183 with a 12 month subscription with the plug at half price plug and £288 with a two year subscription. Interestingly this Editor received this news  (more…)