IoT: Smart Connected Planet

5 Tech Products Help Increase Independence

Pamela Tenorio Writer, Intel

Smart sensors, alarms and other new technologies empower Baby Boomers (and everyone) to live better, safer lives.

It’s a commonly cited truth: the Baby Boom generation is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by 2030.

Despite their age, however, baby boomers cherish their independence.

Nearly 90 percent of those over age 65 want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, and 80 percent believe they will always live in their current homes, the AARP reports.

“More seniors want to preserve their independence and privacy as they grow older, but they also want to take extra precautions to stay safe,” said Griet Aertgeerts, channel sales and marketing manager at Intel.

Thankfully, people are embracing technology like never before. In fact, baby boomers adopt technologies like tablets and wearables as enthusiastically as younger users, PCWorld reports. There’s lots of tech to increase independence.

This is partly thanks to enterprising tech companies that are responding with a new generation of products designed to empower everyone to live richer lives on their own terms.

These five devices, powered by smart sensors, connected technologies and smartphone apps, help make everyday life safer and easier for seniors and others who struggle to live independently.

1. Smart Medical Alert Systems

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One misstep can lead to a hip fracture, head trauma or brain injury.

Most people are familiar with old-school medial alert systems — think wristbands and devices that let the user call for help if he or she falls. Today’s alert systems, however, go beyond the press of a button.

The FamilyEye smart sensor, for example, can detect falls. It’s a game changer that can save a life if an elderly or ailing individual isn’t able to activate the help signal after a fall.

“FamilyEye uses mini PC-powered sensors in a unique way to help give older adults as well as their caretakers peace of mind, while helping them age in peace,” Aertgeerts said.

The solution combines 3D sensors, Intel Core processor-based mini PCs and specialized software that can recognize when a person falls — and automatically alert family members or caretakers on their mobile devices.

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2. Sleep-quality Sensors

New products, like Luna and Withings Aura, combine a sensor with a smartphone app to monitor sleep quality, breathing and heart rate. While the products aren’t currently being marketed as safety devices, they could give users information about potential health issues like sleep apnea.

“New technology in healthcare is making it easy for older adults to remain independent while identifying any potential chronic health conditions,” said Chris Gough, lead solutions architect at Intel Health and Life Sciences.

“It’s as easy as going to bed, and when they wake up, all the data is available through web services and servers, which doctors and caregivers can then access and provide accurate diagnosis and treatment.”

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3. Smart Smoke and CO2 Alarms

Around the house, connected smart home devices help protect people from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. The newest smoke alarm from Google’s Nest platform, for example, tests itself automatically.

It can also send alerts to the user’s — or a family member’s — smartphone, making it easier to check on problems before they become hazards.

“New tech advances have led to the development of ‘smart aging’ devices that are capable of identifying, locating, sensing, connecting and communicating between people and their environment,” said Martin Despain, Director of Intel’s Smart Home and Building Division.

“Things like near field communications and radio frequency identification can also facilitate telemonitoring between elderly people and their caregivers.”

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4. Medication and Appointment Reminders

According to the National Institutes of Health, people age 65 or older make up more than one-third of outpatient spending on prescription drugs. They’re more likely than younger patients to take more than one medication, and they often take them over the long term for chronic conditions.

It can be hard for seniors — and anyone with a number of medical needs — to keep track of it all. Unfortunately, missing a dose or two can lead to serious complications.

BrainAid offers a smartphone app to remind users of medical appointments and when it’s time to take medication.

“In nursing homes or senior living communities, it also preserves privacy because residents or family members don’t have to constantly check in on them,” says Gough.

The company is even starting to move beyond medical alerts. New systems include embedded sensors around the home that help track movements and give users simple instructions, like closing a refrigerator door that’s been left open.

5. Financial Monitoring

While physical safety is important, financial safety can be just as critical to a person’s well-being.

Seniors lose more than $36 billion each year to financial abuse, according to True Link, a maker of financial monitoring software. Abuse can come in the form of pressure or misleading tactics from businesses or charities, fraud and identify theft or paid helpers taking advantage of a trusting client.

True Link developed an online tool that lets anyone monitor all of her financial accounts in one place and get an alert if any suspicious activity is detected. It also lets users share this information with family members, without giving them direct access to accounts.

This way, loved ones who may be concerned about abuse can watch for scams and unusual spending.

 

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