Gartner Research – Homes In 2022 Will Contain Hundreds Of Smart Objects

How the Internet of Things is Saving Lives

Just hearing the phrase ‘internet of things’ is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many elderly people. As the world’s economy shifts increasingly towards online-only, the oldest people among us often feel left behind, confused that the ‘way things used to be done’ – the way they have known for much of their lives – is no longer the accepted norm.

Should the phrase cause such panic though? In reality, the internet of things has the ability to change the lives of old people for the better. If the ‘silver generation’ can be encouraged to embrace the changes, their standard of living could see huge benefits.

According to research by Gartner, a home in 2022 will contain “several hundred” smart objects, derived from an industry which will be worth $19 billion. If used properly, these objects could provide for a much simpler and more comfortable life for old people. It’s not hard to envisage a home where sensors in medicine cabinets can update prescriptions, radiators will turn on and off in line with the weather without the need for programming, and a bracelet could call an ambulance if a person’s pacemaker shows signs of malfunction.

An example of an object that is already making waves is Jibo – advertised as a family robot. Cynthia Breazeal, a Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is crowdfunding the development of Jibo as a device to care for the elderly. It will be able to arrange videos calls with friends, let children remind their parents to take medicine, and even become a friend.

Loneliness is one of the biggest problems of ageing and even though a little robot is not going to replace people, many say if I just had a little helper with a smile on its face to inform me of daily events, arrange a car ride to make sure I get out in the community to help connect with friends, that would be huge,” said Breazeal.

Another example is the start-up ‘Lively’. The US-based company puts sensors on everything from medications to food and drink to learn an older person’s routine – before sending alerts to report abnormalities to a carer’s phone via an app. They try and encourage uptake amongst the elderly by producing a monthly printed book called ‘LivelyGram’ which is mailed monthly and contains pictures of friends and family.

Iggy Fanlo, Lively’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive is a strong believer in his technology. “As the cost of care rises, Lively is being used by some care companies as a ‘last mile solution’, charging $40-$45 a week to wrap services and monitoring around the system, on top of the $25 a month Lively costs”, he said. “It is about a tenth of the price of full home care. Care providers can look after many more families than they did before by using technology. It is a smart and intelligent way to use human resources”.

By Daniel Price

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