Simpalarm: A venture into within-family telecare has some nice features (UK)

Simpalarm is a new company bravely venturing into the UK telecare market. Accepting the premise that the ability to raise an alert through a press-button device and around-the-home sensors is what is required by many people, Simpalarm uses today’s technology to strip the system back to bare bones. A landline is not necessary because alerts go directly by SMS to friends, neighbours, family, housing provider, etc. and response is not moderated through a call centre (although one assumes it could be). If sensors are added to the system, it is possible for alerts to be triggered when the occupier’s activity deviates from normal patterns. The nicest feature (apart from the hype-free product description) is that the hub is cleverly and semi-permanently attached to the power source, which is a standard UK double electrical socket, so there are no wires that can become unplugged or cut. Download the one-page Simpalarm description (PDF) and visit the website, for further information.

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  1. Matan Czaczkes

    Very happy to see something like this come on the market after the unfortunate exit of Quiet Care from the UK scene. If anyone has had any experience using these devices I’d love to hear about it!

    • Donna Cusano

      Very interesting double target–both movement in the home and as an intruder alarm. However, can one unit serve as both? I wonder if it is algorithmically based (the ‘learns’ part) or rules-based.

      Since I worked for the original QuietCare developer, Living Independently Group, from 2006-9 when it was in the UK market, it’s sad to hear that Care Innovations has exited it (ironically, the UK distribution was one of the things that attracted the purchase of the company by GE Healthcare).

      I wonder if they have considered the US market?

  2. Kevin Doughty

    Smart dispersed alarm units have been used with movement detectors to offer joint intruder alarm and lack of movement functionality in the UK for many years. The approach does not use any clever learning techniques but has to be activated by the user – something which can cause confusion and mistakes if the user has a level of cognitive impairment. It’s therefore best used within a broader telecare package that has voice reminder devices at exit doors to remind them to turn on or turn off the intruder functionality. The more sophisticated systems allow zoning and no alarm if the service user goes to the bathroom during the night while the remainder of the house is protected against intruders. Experienced assessors and installers can design a telecare package that fits the needs of the individual.

    The problem facing any “simple” approach to telecare is that the lack of sensor data reduces the number of emergency situations that can be unambiguously detected. This leads to false alerts or failures to detect genuine situations of concern. It follows that lower costs entrants to this market may have only limited appeal, and that more sophisticated systems will be required to manage the risks faced by people with more complex needs.


    I like it. Simple and effective. As Kevin says this set up has been around for years. THe contacting friends and family is also something that has been able to be provided; albeit through a landline in the majority of cases.

    You then go back to the reliability of SMS as a form of alerting. Anyone who has ever sent a text or two knows that occassionally texts go off for a coffee and a chat with other texts for a couple of hours before remembering (with a memo minder) that they actually have a job to do and eventually arrive two or three hours later.

    If you are happy to live with this risk then go for it.

    Keep bringing the choice.

  4. Looks like a great design being plugged directly into the socket.
    As having designed and now selling a product into this space (SeNCit) that relies on family, neighbours, friends to be the alert receivers it is very well received especially the door wandering alert feature. The reliance of SMS technology is not an issue as the mobile operators have made sending SMS very robust over recent years – we also add a “ring” alert as a double hit to ensure the alerts are sent quickly. The UK market is the toughest with the historic standard landline/care line system being offered/subsidised by local authorities but outside the UK the market is very strong especially the US where they expect to pay for this technology and are eager to adopt new systems.

    Matan Czaczkes – we have great case studies if you would like some please let me know.

  5. Many thanks to you all for your comments and feedback. My intention with Simpalarm is to create an affordable, reliable entry-level product for the consumer market. As the population ages and the demand for telecare grows, there is going to be an increasing need to provide a product for every budget. Simpalarm isn’t intended to provide a solution for someone with complex needs, but with additional components will be able to offer a reasonably sophisticated level of monitoring. In answer to Donna’s question about the software, the alerts would initially be rules-based, but there is no reason why they could not be algorithmically derived based on the information gathered by the device over a period of time.