My colleagues and I have been investigating the applicability of commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology to be used in the Eldercare market. We set out to develop lifestyle enhancements that allow for greater independence for the seniors, while providing unobtrusive administration and privacy positive monitoring for family members and caregivers.
Our research directed us to pursue a senior experience that requires little technology interaction, and results in actions that are similar to what seniors use on a daily basis. With degradation in physical dexterity being one of the most common issues, we initially targeted a limited voice based set of actions to be available to the senior for enhancing their independent living. After a fairly extensive survey of automation hubs and interaction devices, we settled on prototyping some basic interactions with SmartThings hub and the Sony Smartband Talk bracelet.
The initial results of our development and testing have determined that COTS products are not yet ready to serve the Eldercare market. The primary issue is solution reliability, with wearable interaction and charging methods being secondary factors that limit potential deployment today. Based on our interactions with existing vendors, we anticipate some of these issues to be resolved in the near term, while others may take a longer path to COTS availability. Certainly compliance to existing and emerging industry standards will go a long way towards resolving some of these issues.
Today we are making the ST apps and Sony Smartband Talk apps available to anyone, with only a courtesy registration required on our website. We have also set up a discussion board for those who wish to comment on their experiences, provide suggestions, or discuss items that they wish their elders could benefit from. For those whom are interested, go to www.cerbco.com and select the Early Adopters link, where you will prompted to register before being granted access to the apps.
With the technology pieces provided, it is possible to customize the Sony Smartband to have up to 10 virtual switches (actions) on the Sony bracelet which can be linked to physical devices in the ST environment. Once the Smartband app is selected, switch navigation is via the “volume” buttons, and on/off toggling is performed by a “tap” on the bracelet.
Our team remains strong supporters of the home automation vision and market, and we remain enthused with the ST offering as a potential cornerstone for advanced services. We intend to evaluate the next generation solution from ST, as well as other providers, while pursuing a monitoring and lifestyle enhancement solution that meets the Independence needs of our aging parents and their peers.