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

click to enlargeThere’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? Are families finally comprehending: 1) yes, an older adult living at home alone can live there longer and more safely with a ‘prop’ such as an activity-based home monitoring system, 2) some of the tracking works well out of home so younger, more active adults are ‘in’, 3) yes, you’re going to have to pay for the hub and sensors, but monthly much less or $0 per month, because 4) you’re going to be the active party doing the monitoring–but it’s far easier.

And there are others in this space which more narrowly focus on specific types of tracking: UK companies such as Simpalarm, Just Checking and KeepUs.

This Editor observes: The promise to families of these technologies remains not terribly changed from QuietCare’s promise in 2006. The tech has changed and evolved into mobile, DIY and communication (Bluetooth LE, ZigBee). What’s really changed is the consumer perception that this is plausible, available and affordable, not something from Planet Zoom. I cannot help but think that QuietCare was about six years ahead of its time. Had it stayed independent and not been hammered in the 2008 downturn when it needed next-round financing , it ‘coulda been a contendah’ instead of forgotten in a mega-joint venture [TTA 22 Aug]. (Disclaimer: this Editor was marketing head of the developing company, Living Independently Group, 2006-2009.)

Hat tip to Contributing Editor and TANN Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

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