Vodafone is teaming with an emerging telehealth vendor, Lively, to offer a network of sensors that allow older people to remain independent longer.
The Lively technology allows families and other caregivers to monitor the movements of older relatives. For example, sensors located on pill dispensers let caregivers know whether an older person is taking meds on schedule. Sensors on doors inform whether the older person is remaining active. And a sensor on the refrigerator lets on whether the older person is eating regularly. This two-minute video shows how it works.
Vodafone provides the network to connect the sensors to the Internet, to allow caregivers to view information in a web browser. But the sensors themselves don't require an Internet connection in the home, just a wireless data connection, provided by Vodafone. That's important because many seniors -- even active, independent ones -- aren't technology-savvy and don't have persistent Internet access, says Andrew Morawski, head of machine-to-machine for the Americas at Vodafone.
"It's a huge step forward to be able to put a device in their house that isn't dependent on any kind of local access," Morawski says.
The hub, a pyramid-shaped device roughly the size of a small table lamp, arrives at the senior's home preconfigured, and just has to be plugged in to a power source. The hub includes a Vodafone SIM card. Sensors located around the house provide information on the senior's well-being. The service also uses a smartwatch that seniors wear to collect and process information, reminding the wearer to take medications, counting steps with a pedometer, and giving the senior the ability to call for help with the push of a button.
Healthcare may be the killer app for the Internet of Things -- and it goes beyond just putting sensors in seniors' homes. By seeding sensors throughout a metropolitan area, healthcare providers can, for example, figure out why people in one area get sick more often than others -- pollution? chemicals? rats? (See Is Health the Killer App for the IoT?)
The Lively-Vodafone system works on Vodafone's Global Data Service Platform, its global machine-to-machine network that has 18.6 million SIM cards connected globally and which is managed by 1,300 employees. Health data travels over a secure VPN to provide access only to authorized people.
Lively and Vodafone have launched the service in the US and Australia, with the UK in the pipeline, Morawski says.
Vodafone's M2M network also provides connectivity for BMW connected cars, the Amazon Kindle Fire, TomTom navigation devices, and others.
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