The Telecare Services Association Conference 2009, Hilton London Metropole Hotel - Report of Exhibitors
Although there were loads of excellent people presenting their wares at the Conference certain ones were found by the author to warrant considerable attention.
First up is the NEAT dispersed alarm that Possum had on their stall. Apart from the size and design quality/looks there are a number of excellent features that make this something to watch. Firstly the dispersed alarm unit is small and thin with three buttons which are clear. The unit has a voice unit which can pick up on someone calling for help and trigger an alert to the call centre (the round item in the middle of the picture with the red button on it). The other thing that I really like is the fact that the unit and each device provide a handshake. The handshake means that each device can communicate with the other devices in a smarter fashion as information can go bi-directionally. This opens many possibilities. The main possibility demonstrated to me was the fact that if a device fails by using a simple pendant you can easily find the failing device as the handshake will not occur, as demonstrated by a light on a pendant.
Another thing that I really liked was the fact that each device works in its own state. In this way the system can be a standalone system that can send an alert to the pager in the bottom right of the picture alerting the carer that the person is in difficulties. Any device can be set to do this without the need for the dispersed alarm. Furthermore the pager can be set to have a range of functions such as pass the alert to another pager or accept the alert. The most obvious benefit I can see for this is in supported living services where care staff might require extra help or the person themselves can start to use technology to enable a more independent lifestyle.
The other most important thing the NEAT system can do is to act as a wayfinding device to assist the user in maintaining independence. This can split the house into various zones and these zones can be defined by the practitioner or family or person. If you go out of zone then it is up to the practitioners or family to determine the best course of action. This is just the beginning of what this system can do so keep your eyes open for news on the NEAT system.
The Halliday James Ltd stall where Bernard Wignall demonstrated the excellent range of technologies that they have developed to support wayfinding. These include mobile phones, simple pendants with GPS and GSM capabilities as well as handheld units that have maps and so forth on them. What impressed me with this is the way in which the person using the technology was always at the forefront of all the design ideas and decisions. The two best products demonstrated were the HTC smartphone in the top of the table that can provide a decision support system for people with memory problems. This is very similar to the things I saw in the
The other standout item from Halliday James Ltd was the standard looking watch below the mapping device in the picture. This is a normal watch and could be the person’s own watch but the strap has a GPS/GSM unit built into the base – out of sight. Therefore the unit looks like normal watch but is actually as wayfinding device. Simple good design shining through again.
The third company stall that had something standout to show was Chubb Community Care who finally produced two things I have been looking forward to, and they have been promising, for some time. The first is the new fall detector which as the picture shows is a wrist worn device. It looks like many other wrist worn devices and has a black emergency call button on it. In actual fact it looks just like a standard pendant on a wrist strap but actually is a fall detector that will detect ‘out of ordinary bumps’. “When a fall alarm is raised, the technology will vibrate immediately, during this period if the user does not want to send out the signal of the alarm, they just have to move their arm which will cancel the alarm. If this is not done then a call will be sent through the IntelliLink carephone or to the Carer Alert so the appropriate response can be sent”. Its not rocket science to see that this is fraught with potential possibilities for falls to be canceled as the person is crawling along the floor or some such activity that mimics the cancellation mode. But to their credit it is a well designed and well thought out piece of kit. If the person does decide to wave their arms in the air after a true fall and cancel the signal it can still be reactivated by pressing the black button. So a fail-safe is in place. I am looking forward to testing these out.
Another thing by Chubb that I have been waiting for is the blue flexible mat that acts as a bed occupancy sensor (BOS). This is currently not to be found by me on their website. This is the mat shown above the standard BOS mat. The reason for this mat being exciting is that it can be used on pressure relieving mattresses which inflate and deflate. I am also pleased to see it connected to the new Chubb Bed Occupancy Monitor which enables personalised timing features so that these devices can finally be timed to meet the needs of the person.
This proves to be a valuable conference for many reasons. Not only is it the place to meet and touch base with the Telecare Gurus, but it is also the place to find out what the future direction for Telecare is to be. But for me, the best thing is to see how some manufacturers are still churning out the same things whilst others are beginning to see the true potential of listening to the people who use their devices.