Last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the global tech community's equivalent of Christmas and Easter coming at once. There, Breezie was invited to speak at the CES Silvers Summit on how new gadgets are helping the elderly.
We were featured alongside companies like Lift Labs, who have designed 'Liftware' cutlery for people with Essential Tremor and Parkinson's Disease, to make meal times easier. Sensors in the cutlery detect and cancel hand tremors to prevent spillages. As well as a fork and a soup spoon, they've also created a key holder too, making it easier to get unlock your front door.
We also shared the stage with GN's ReSound, who have introduced the world's smartest hearing aid ReSound Linx which is built on Apple's MFi platform using low bandwidth blue-tooth technology. The clever bit is that these hearing aids come with a smartphone app that allows you to fully personalise your hearing preference and adjust to the ambient noise, as well as remembering these settings for future use. Imagine hearing aids that adjust automatically for a concert or a yoga class by remembering your settings from the last time you were there.
The CES 2014 showcased a plethora of gadgetry designed benefit those people in our society who are more vulnerable. GreatCall, the maker's of the Jitterbug phones and 5Star urgent response alert service introduced GreatCall Link, which is a smart phone app that seamlessly connects GreatCall's health and safety products with family and caregivers. The app provides alerts to the caregiver when the 5Star subscriber hits the button for help. It also provides a record of all calls and the status of each interaction with one of GreatCall's response agents.
Similarly, Alarm.com debuted its new Wellness service, enabling the families of older people who need care to have more peace of mind. Already collecting data about activity within the home, Alarm.com's technology can now track behaviour, as well as alerting the primary caregiver to any unusual changes in their patterns. Not only this, it provides users with real-time updates of their loved ones' whereabouts, as well as using expert motion technology to monitor bed presence.
One of the most obviously practical digital aids to older people is AdhereTech's Wireless Pill Bottle, helping those whose memories aren't what they used to be to remember to take vital medication at the correct time of day. Equally useful and practical is Sentry Scientific's innovative walker technology - great for those who forget to put the breaks on their mobility equipment and thus, minimising serious accidents.
Technology for the elderly is coming on leaps and bounds, but the challenge will always be to make sure the customer experience is not only simple but enjoyable. To that effect, I saw many simple innovations, like the simple PocketPlug charging case, primarily aimed at the mass market, but which can also make the overall experience for a senior user much better.
I couldn't compile a round-up of the CES's best new technology for older people without mentioning our offering for the elderly, Breezie. Our primary goal was to make technology more human and relevant for seniors but without being patronising or limiting. The key theme of the discussion we were part of was to fulfil the functional needs for seniors in style. Breezie was a joint winner of the audience and AARP panel member vote.
I sincerely hope the admirable efforts and products showcased at CES this year will make a difference to the lives of at least a few older people, as well as alleviating some of the burden of care for their friends and loved ones.