Early in my technology writing career, I wrote and did training programs about desktop publishing on personal computers. Daniel Will Harris wrote a great book on the subject back then, in which he gave some great advice: “Nobody gives out medals for doing it all on your computer.” His point was that it could be more effective to use physical cut and paste to layout a document. This advice still applies to wearable Health Tech products as well. Nobody is handing out awards for a creating a wearable solution if one without a wearable component will do the job as well or better.
This came to mind as I had a great discussion at CES 2015 with Cees Links, the founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies. The company has launched a Senior Lifestyle System that is designed to help the elderly live independently and safely. One of the biggest problems with many systems designed for seniors is compliance; they often forget (or decline) to wear a required pendent or bracelet that the system needs in order to track their activities. GreenPeak’s approach relies on wireless sensors distributed throughout the home that communicated with a base using low-bandwidth, low-power ZigBee technology.
These sensors can sense a person’s activities, and the data is sent to the Cloud for storage and analysis. The system can learn behavior patterns, and trigger alerts when they fall outside preset limits. For example, if the person is not going into the kitchen (to prepare food) or if the cabinet that holds the medication is not accessed at the anticipated intervals, family members and caregivers can be notified automatically.
There is no one perfect system to assist seniors living on their own, but the GreenPeak system shows that a wearable component is not necessarily required.