Best Buy update: ‘Assured Living’ assuredly up and running. And was this Editor’s in-store experience not typical?

Reader and Opinionator Laurie Orlov wrote this Editor to advise her that Assured Living was most definitely alive and well in Best Buy-land. The Assured Living page presents a variety of services, starting with a personal monitoring service (video) for an older adult that starts with a fairly standard pendant PERS (two way) and also creates an in-home network of motion sensors for doors, windows, and furniture installed by Geek Squad. These sensors send activity to a control panel which tracks activity and wellness patterns (sic!–as we know it’s algorithms and rules in the software). Within about a month, the system will send real-time automated alerts if something is out of the ordinary. The video then promises the usual ‘deeper insights’ into wellness and potential issues with the older person.

What doesn’t sound like QuietCare circa 2006, down to the need for installation, are the Wi-Fi camera in the doorbell and the automated remote door locks, the tie ins with the Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealthcare. 

We both speculated on the motion sensor set as being Lively Home (from GreatCall) –Laurie added possibly Alarm.com’s BeClose, which has supplied Best Buy in the past.

Assured Living is available only in limited markets (not listed) but you can get 10 percent off with AARP! But product packages go up to nearly $189.97 for a one time fee plus $29.99/month, not inclusive of that nifty doorbell camera and remote door locks.

One wonders if the reluctance of older adults to admit they need monitoring and consent to the installation is less than in 2006, when QuietCare’s and ADT’s sales people had difficulty overcoming the reluctance of a person living home on their own to be monitored by their (usually) child. Sometimes a sale would be made, the installer would come, and the installer would be shooed out after second thoughts. The genius of GreatCall was in making technology palatable to this market by assigning it a positive use, such as communicating with friends and direct personal safety, not someone minding her. Right now, the template is 2006 with a tech twist.

Drop in and visit Laurie Orlov on her Website We Like, Aging in Place Technology Watch. (She’s alarmed about chipping people too and frames it as more of a security and a moral issue than this Editor did, who prefers her chips to be chocolate and her cars to be driven by her alone.)

As to this Editor’s ghostly experience buying a TV in store, perhaps I should have invited a Best Buy rep over! Reader, former Marine flyboy, eldercare expert, and full time grandfather John Boden did and got a simple solution to an annoying problem. Read about it in comments on our prior article here.

Telecare innovator Lively acquired by GreatCall (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Lively-sensors-600×327.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]GreatCall, which markets the popular Jitterbug simple phones and ancillary safety/security services (5 Star, mPERS) targeted to older adults, has acquired the assets of home activity personal monitoring system Lively. According to GreatCall’s press release, Lively’s technologies will be integrated into GreatCall products. These include a tastefully designed brace of self-installed in-home motion sensors, which made quite a splash when introduced in 2012, and a fairly stylish mPERS watch introduced last year. From the announcement, it’s easy to deduce that Lively was largely inactive despite partnerships led by Care Innovations: the press release on both Lively and GreatCall’s site was issued from GreatCall only and not joint contact; Lively’s last round of funding was in 2013 (only $7.3 million total, another Series A to B casualty) and there are no Lively employees transitioning to GreatCall for the good reason that there are none left (Mobihealthnews). No word on founder Iggy Fanlo’s next plans save a squib on LinkedIn saying that hardware was hard and his next move would likely be in software. With last year’s sale of AFrame Digital (with no further word from the purchaser) and BeClose now Alarm.com Wellness (not a surprise as it was built on an Alarm.com platform), as we close the year it is further confirmation that it is No Country for Small Players in digital health. Photo: Lively.

Update: Tart take from seasoned Aging Tech business observer Laurie Orlov on Lively’s rise and fall, with additional history. Her POV is that as attractive as Lively’s concept was, its business strategy should give pause to the Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur crowd thinking this is just another kind of direct-to-consumer hardware-service sell, the long payout of any tech in this field and the opposed short time frame of VCs. It’s also not like there haven’t been a few predecessors fallen on the field, either. Aging in place tech firm Lively is out of business – what can we learn?

CES Unveiled New York

11 November, New York

The annual event that is CES Unveiled in New York City is meant to be a nanoparticle-scale preview of International CES in Las Vegas, 6-9 January.  It’s a smörgåsbord of what used to be called ‘consumer electronics’ and now is all about innovation–a taste of everything from ever-smarter video and audio to sensors, smarter homes with IoT (the cutely named Internet of Things), Big Data, robotics and (drum roll) Digital Health and the Quantified Self (QS). This Editor regrettably missed the opening briefing by Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research which would likely touch on his areas of the innovation economy and disruption along with the other four 2015 trends to watch: big data analytics, immersive entertainment content, robotics and digital health. (CEA helpfully provides the 30-page white paper here.)

The exhibitors at the Metropolitan Pavilion did not fully represent the trends, however. (more…)

Telecare helping Alzheimer’s patients live in the ‘connected home’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/140825141047-lively-pillbox-sensor-story-top.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]There’s life in telecare–it’s (finally) morphing into ‘connected home’. Is this ‘slope of enlightenment’ and ‘plateau of productivity’ time?  We haven’t had a spotlight on the part of telecare which is sensor-based behavioral monitoring, but here’s one that shines on not just one but four systems which indicates a big change in focus, long developing: SmartThings, Lively, BeClose and certified Grizzled Pioneer GrandCare Systems. CNN.com crafted an article out of a fairly obvious placement by the Alzheimer’s Association, but all to a good end.

Notably SmartThings by Physical Graph (just purchased by Samsung for a reported $200 million after raising $15.5 million through Series A, undoubtedly for their algorithms and in its health reach strategy versus Apple Health) pitches itself on its website as simple home automation, yet this article is all about older adult safety. Lively, which is depicted with an interesting connected pill dispenser (above) and BeClose carve their approaches close to caregivers.  All three are DIY systems. GrandCare remains the anomaly, with the highest (custom) home install price ($699 and up) but with a home tablet that engages the older person with virtual visits, music, pictures, daily updates and family/clinician connectivity. They were also first to move in this direction; this Editor recalls their pioneering in the home automation area with CEDIA, the home electronic design association.

After years, are we finally seeing a shift in consumer perception?  (more…)

The ‘grey’ market is where it’s at for ‘quantified selfing’

Surprisingly in the tech-addicted (and young-skewing, based on subject matter) Gigaom is this short piece on how health tech companies are missing the boat by targeting the young, healthy fitness addict or plain addicted-to-the-data Quantified Self (QS) market, rather than those over 50 and their families. ‘Simple’ and unobtrusive are the keywords, especially for what the late and much missed MetLife Mature Market Institute termed the ‘old-old’–those over 80. Mentioned are home activity monitoring systems such as Lively, BeClose and GrandCare Systems supplanting the PERS pendant (Lifeline) and the additional alert capabilities offered by GreatCall/Jitterbug. (This Editor will also mention a new telecare system entering the European and Americas markets, Essence Care@Home, which premiered at Mobile World Congress 2014. More on this in the next few days.) What’s notable about the article is the emphasis on the market size (via expert Laurie Orlov): $2 billion now, ten times that in 2020. What’s incomplete about the article is no ‘look-ahead’ to how devices like smartwatches (and watch-like forms such as AFrame), sensor-based wearables which connect to smartphones–and sensor-equipped smartphones, tablets and even Glass-type devices with simple apps which can help with self-or group-monitoring, prompts for those with cognitive difficulties, and more. Worldwide, we are also running out of carers [TTA 24 April]. Who will crack the code on tech for seniors?

ABI Research surveys…telecare

It is refreshing to note a commercial research study that concentrates on straightforward home monitoring for the senior care market, a segment that doesn’t get the cocktail party chatter or anything resembling buzz.  ABI Research looks at eight home monitoring companies–BeClose, Care Innovations, GrandCare Systems, Healthsense, independa, Philips, pomDevices (Sonamba) and Tunstall Healthcare–and judges them on several analyses. On the Competitive Assessment, measuring product innovation as well as implementation, the three leaders were (in rank order) Healthsense, pomdevices (Sonamba), and GrandCare Systems. Both Healthsense and GrandCare are prominent ‘grizzled pioneers’ evolving their model considerably over the years; Sonamba is a tablet-based relative newcomer so low profile that we haven’t heard about them since their 2011 debut at CES. Whither Philips and Tunstall? (more…)