Family members and caregivers are concerned about monitoring and tracking both the elderly and children. Wireless technology can provide a way to keep tabs on loved ones even when they are not in sight. Wearable devices can provide location information, but these typically rely on either short-range signals produced by an indoor beacon, or more expensive cellular phone data systems when the subject is away from their home.

A new technology created for industrial applications may have a better solution. LoRa is long-range, low-power wireless specification from Semtech for use in public and private network applications, and can be used to monitor everything from parking meters to fleet vehicles to farm animals. It is designed to be low-cost, for both infrastructure investment and operating expense. It is low power, making it possible for monitoring devices to run on batteries for up to 20 years. And a single base station can provide indoor and outdoor monitor; in rural settings, it can monitor devices up to 30 miles away. The data is encrypted end-to-end, and one base station can handle millions of messages.

Semtech has announced a collaboration with Movtek to develop wearable devices that can monitor the location of the elderly and children. The system can even provide passive fall detection to trigger alerts without the wearer having to press a button or otherwise summon assistance. Devices from Movtek are expected to be available by the end of 2017.