As the smartwatch market matures, it should not be a surprise that the products are starting to differentiate. Different feature sets will appeal to different market segments, and manufacturers hope to establish a niche for their products. One niche market for wearables includes products designed for the elderly. These have features that support aging in place, so that seniors can maintain an independent lifestyle while being monitored for sudden or gradual impairments, both physical and cognitive.
One new entry into this market is the Nurture Watch. It is a smartwatch that includes a personal emergency response system (PERS) functions, but doesn’t look like one of those typical call-for-help pendants that are marketed to seniors. Instead, it looks like a normal piece of wrist wear. Unlike other smartwatches, however, it has a more limited feature set and simplified user interface, making it easier for seniors to use. It includes its own cellphone connection, so the wearer does not have to also have a working smartphone. In addition to the emergency help button, you can make regular calls on it including up to three numbers that can be assigned to quick-dial buttons. The watch also includes GPS so that the wearer’s location can be tracked, including geo-fencing boundary alerts if needed. The watch also includes a heart rate monitor and fall detection that can trigger an automatic alert.
There is a companion smartphone app that family members and caregivers can use to monitor the wearer’s activity. The company is offering the device under an interesting business model. Since it requires cell phone service and has a SIM card, there is a monthly fee. However, if you sign up for the discounted 6 month or full year rate, the company provides the watch for free. (Otherwise, it costs about $200.)
It’s encouraging to see that companies are offering solutions other than the “badge of shame” PERS pendants. The automatic fall detection is an especially handy feature as many studies show that elderly users are reluctant to call for help if they fall or otherwise need assistance. Wearables such as these could play an important role in helping seniors remain independent and active safely.