A five-point rebuttal to ‘Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection’

One of our most popular articles ever on TTA has been Tom Doris’ analysis of accelerometers in fall detection. His point of view is as a developer in digital health technology. For your consideration, we are posting this extended response from an executive experienced in deployment of both traditional PERS and now PERS with accelerometer-based fall detection in older adult populations.

Andy Schoonover is President of VRI, a leading provider of PERS, MPERS, and telehealth monitoring services founded in 1989. VRI currently actively monitors approximately 110,000 clients in the US–and a long-time TTA reader.

Tom Doris wrote a post on September 17th, laying out the problems with the use of accelerometers and fall detection devices especially in regards to PERS. After reading Tom’s post I felt compelled to respond with the following five points on why it’s important to continue to promote fall detection within PERS and MPERS.

1) In the 1 out of 100 case that my grandma falls and can’t physically press a button (sudden fainting due to hypoglycemia for example) would I prefer she have a regular PERS, which definitely won’t indicate a fall, or a PERS with fall detector which will more than likely indicate a fall? If it were my grandma I’d go with the “more than likely” option.

2) If my grandma had too many false positives then I’d ask her: you can use regular PERS with no fall detection or you can use PERS with fall detection where you will get called a couple more times per month. Which would you prefer? Hint: she’ll say fall detection. About 5 percent of our customers are annoyed by the false positives. (more…)

Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection

Tom Doris, KeepUs project founder and technical lead, responds to our recent post [TTA 28 Aug] critiquing Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert’s accelerometer and its possible failure to detect a fall which resulted in the death of a Massachusetts woman. His analysis concludes that accelerometers on their own are surprisingly inaccurate. The false positives/negatives may be minimal but they do exist, and they should not be the only indicator of a fall.

Mr Doris has a PhD in computer science and was formerly an R&D engineer at Intel. Earlier in TTA: 4 Oct 13, 22 July

Falling Down is a Surprisingly Hard Problem

More than 250,000 people suffer a hip fracture in the US every year. More than 20 percent will die within 12 months as a consequence of their fall. One in three who lived independently before the fracture will need at least a year of rehabilitation in a nursing home. While rehabilitation methods are improving, the single most important factor influencing the long-term outcome is the length of time between the fall and getting medical attention at a hospital. A few hours more or less makes the difference between life and death.

People are living longer, and current projections make it clear that elderly people will have to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. You just can’t provide residential care for 20 percent of the population. Smartphones and wearable technology have the potential to dramatically improve eldercare. A relatively cheap smartphone can track activity and location. Modern platforms analyze the data in real-time over the internet and can, in theory, immediately spot when something is wrong and raise an alert.

The theory doesn’t always work 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…)

Keeping up with KeepUs

Updated 25 July

Last October we profiled a UK-developed mobile app in beta called KeepUs. We said at the time that it “when installed on an older person’s or a child’s Android smartphone, (it) allows a family member to monitor that person’s both indoor and outdoor activity. Using geolocation, the family member can see that person’s visits (locations can be labeled), level of activity on any given day, alerts (being idle for too long), how much time was spent at each named location over the past two weeks and trends over two months.” For this Editor, it has the potential to supersede PERS of both the traditional and mobile types since it is free/low cost and also fits into an accepted form factor (phone) which increasingly PERS is not. It’s now well out of beta and with some “commercial care institutions” (we are following up). Founder Tom Doris is now inviting 10,000 volunteers to download a free version of the app by going to keepus.com and following the instructions (see at the top ‘go ahead and install the app’ which will take you to Google Play). PDF release.

Update: A follow up with Mr Doris confirms that KeepUs has users in the US, UK, Ireland, India, Turkey, Australia and even Cambodia (!). He explains, “It works the same as you’d expect any normal app and website to work: as long as you have access, KeepUs works fine. It doesn’t need any special hardware, nor does it need any special support from the cellphone network operators.”

Wearables more than trackers…family communicators

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Zoomed.jpg” thumb_width=”180″ /]This article from Connected World, despite the title of Will your kid wear wearables?, is a look at Revolutionary Tracker, which has developed two products from a GPS-enabled tracker to a simplified smartwatch. Both read to a smartphone for GPS tracking and communication. Where it differs is that the company broadly, not narrowly targets, ‘family tracking and communications’ as a modish wearable–infants, children, special needs children and adults (the autism market which most trackers have concentrated on), older adults and pets. Lone workers are another market, and a newer market: groups such as in camps, school trips and residential communities. It is also unusually made in USA, and the founders already have in the works a more sophisticated-looking design with multiple buttons and text functionality.

Our related recent coverage: KeepUS (UK only), Mindme (also UK),  We’ve covered Lok8U (UK/US) in the past and buddi (UK) as far back as 2009.

KeepUs–smartphone-based senior activity monitoring and telecare

KeepUs is a new, free app developed in the UK that when installed on an older person’s or a child’s Android smartphone, allows a family member to monitor that person’s both indoor and outdoor activity. Using geolocation, the family member can see that person’s visits (locations can be labeled), level of activity on any given day, alerts (being idle for too long), how much time was spent at each named location over the past two weeks (if Uncle Ted is spending three hours every day at the pub), and trends over two months. It requires no action from the person being tracked other than to carry the smartphone (certainly less obtrusive than a bulky non-removable watch). The family member/carer installs the app on both phones and controls permissions to view the other person’s activity. The app is in beta, free for individual use in the UK. (more…)