Companies and investors are waking up to the potential of technology to assist both older people, wherever they live, and families to keep in touch, live more safely and to compensate for impediments created by physical or cognitive conditions. Ozy, an online news aggregator new to this Editor, notes the $5 trillion annually that boomers and older adults spend in what’s termed the ‘new old-age economy’ (AARP has previously termed it the ‘longevity economy‘) and that there’s money in tech solutions to their problems. Examples: the Lift Labs [TTA 1 Oct 13] stabilizing food utensil that cancels out most active tremors (as in Parkinson’s) while eating; Caremerge which has EHR, care coordination and secure messaging features for the care team in long-term and transitional care, but also connects families with a smartphone app and residents with reminders; GeriJoy [TTA 3 July 14], a tablet that combines an interactive pet avatar/companion with engagement, reminder and education tools for older and cognitively impaired adults.
While we’ve noted many developments along similar lines over the past ten years, interest and financial backing is aligning. (more…)
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/robot-cosmobot-85532261-slide-2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]HP, a tech name not often associated with health monitoring, focuses on health tech in its Winter 2015 issue of HP Matter (produced by Fast Company). Focusing on monitoring and assistance for older adults, the Robot Caregivers article profiles the US’ GeriJoy, a ‘virtual pet’ on a tablet which acts as a therapeutic companion and, through the tablet camera, provides 24/7 video monitoring; Sweden’s Giraff Plus which combines home digital sensors with a tall mobile robot to comprehensively monitor personal well-being; and its pint-size cousin, CosmoBot (US), a character robot for education and therapeutics targeted to younger children. The wearables article notes AdhereTech‘s very smart IoT pill bottle and Proteus Digital Health’s smartpill to body sensor to smartphone monitor. There’s more about bionic prosthetic knees and making healthcare unhackable (!) promoting HP’s security software.
I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.
It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be “locked up in one of those homes.” What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.
What she needs is a robot caregiver.
—Louise Aronson, MD
From a medical practitioner and geriatrician is a view on robots as not dehumanizing, but a source of companionship, comfort and ‘always on’ emergency assistance for older adults and the disabled, particularly those who live alone. Dr Aronson also advocates assistance robots for everyday tasks such as bed transfer, lifting and dressing assistance. Mentioned favorably: PARO the Japanese ‘seal’ robot, MOBISERV Kompaï, Sweden’s GiraffPlus but notable by omission GrandCare Systems, the GeriJoy tablet-as-pet companion and (perhaps too new) the JIBO ‘family robot companion’ [TTA 18 July]. She also makes the apt point that those of us who’ve spent most of our adult lives interacting with machines will be quite comfortable with robotic companions. The Future of Robot Caregivers (New York Times) Also Katy Fike PhD from the Aging 2.0 group takes a look in their blog at Dr Aronson’s insights as well as JIBO.
Last Thursday, the 11 winners of the second annual Pilot Health Tech NYC program were announced at Alexandria Center, NYC. A joint initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Health 2.0, it provides early-stage health tech companies based in NYC a ‘test bed’ in partnership with many of the most prestigious metro area healthcare organizations, and another platform to keep health tech growing in the city. Each project represents a distinct need in the spectrum and a common theme is integration of care into workflow. Some needs are obvious: senior care, pediatrics, rehabilitation, cardiac disease and diabetes management. Others are less so: vision, medication adherence, data analytics, blood donation and social support.
The winners are supported by $1 million in funding to operate and report results from the individual pilots which will take place starting in late summer through end of year. An interesting fact from the announcement release is that the Pilot Health Tech inaugural class companies [TTA 1 July 2013] have raised over $150 million in private investment since their win: AdhereTech, eCaring, Rip Road, Vital Care Services, BioDigital, Flatiron Health, Sense Health, Bio-Signal Group, Opticology and StarlingHealth (acquired by Hill-Rom).
The winners (some of which we’ve been following like GeriJoy, NonnaTech and eCaring) and their partners are:
- Smart Vision Labs / SUNY College of Optometry
- GeriJoy / Pace University
- QoL Devices, Inc. / Montefiore Medical Center
- Urgent Software, LLC / Mount Sinai Health System
- Nonnatech / ElderServe
- Fit4D/ HealthFirst
- AllazoHealth / Accountable Care Coalition of Greater New York
- Canopy Apps / Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY)
- Healthify / VillageCare
- Tactonic Technologies / NYU Langone, Rusk Rehab Center
- Hindsait, Inc. / NY Blood Center
More information in their release. Many thanks to NYCEDC and Eric Vieira of ELabNYC (another NYCEDC initiative) and CUNY.
Related reading: ELabNYC Pitch Day in March
Clevermind for dementia, cognitively disabled
The new Clevermind app/user interface for iPad is designed to simplify the internet for active use by those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementias or others who are cognitively impaired for a variety of reasons. According to founder Glenn Palumbo in an interview with Neil Versel, “The initial release, set for June will have limited functionality, serving as the front end for communication and social hubs like Skype, Facebook and Twitter, with a simplified display including a basic Web browser.” Depending on the stage that the dementia is in, it can be a boon in mental stimulation or as their website terms ‘neuroplasticity’, if presented appropriately–or, based on your Editor’s knowledge of working with dementia sufferers, potentially quite upsetting. The secondary markets that Mr. Palumbo mentioned, stroke patients and children with disabilities, may be more favorable. Clevermind is on Kickstarter with an initial goal of $10,000 but has raised a low $1,717 with 23 days to go. (Hint: try a healthcare- oriented crowdfunding site like Medstartr or Health Tech Hatch for your next round.)
GeriJoy’s ‘virtual pet’ to engage older adults
Another iPad and Android tablet app, GeriJoy, uses the interface of a virtual pet to respond to the user both by voice and touch to lessen isolation, loneliness and increase connectivity to loved ones and friends. Another asset of these tablets is that they have two-way capability, and that active monitoring can help an older person in a bad situation. From the release: (Co-founder Victor) “Wang describes how a customer adopted a GeriJoy Companion for her elderly father, who lives alone. One day, the companion woke up to a loud sound, and heard a paid caregiver screaming at the elder. GeriJoy reported the abuse to the customer, who was very grateful and replaced the caregiver that week.”
Sideline and ringside voice testing for concussion
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a tablet-based test that can detect injury through before-and-after voice analysis. For instance, an athlete recites a series of words before a game, recorded on a tablet. If there’s a suspected concussion or brain injury, the same words are used and software compares differences. Injury indicators can be pitch, hyper nasality, distorted vowels and imprecise consonants–and the tests are far more difficult to fake. In action in this video, the tests also appear to include spatial and balance. Associate Professor Christian Poellabauer describes the research below using Notre Dame’s boxing teams.[This video is no longer available on this site but may be findable via an internet search]