Aging In Place MeetUp - November 18, 2015

from: Longevity Explorers | Aging in Place Technology

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Discussion Summary

Grab bars, PERS, stroke detection, remote monitoring - and that's just what I heard! About 25 participants again met at TechShop in Redwood city. It appeared that about half the crowd was here for the first time!

We followed our successful three part format. Richard talked about the big picture of working together to create some things that aid the world of aging and how this meet up is a part of The Longevity Explorers movement. We had several attendees talk at the five minute open mic portion and those talks spilled over to the un-conference part. I'll summarize some of the thoughts I heard here:

  • Elaine talked about her desire for a mobile grab bar that could be temporarily placed where needed. Instead of having a dozen grab bars in the bathroom, wouldn't it be nice to have two that you could move around. A bit like those suction hand grabs that glass workers use. Some commercial products do exist and Elaine is going to check those out.
  • We had a presentation about the ability to use a smart phone to be a Personal Emergency Response System. There is certainly a lot of sensing power in a smart phone and the member talked about how to harness that into a clever system to detect distress.
  • John talked about his desire to have a portable system that could detect a stroke. Fast response to a stroke can make a huge difference in the outcome. Apparently the person having the stoke might not even be aware of the event. Most training to detect strokes is directed at a person observing the symptoms in someone else. We had quite a discussion about the different kinds of strokes and how they present. Is it heart rate, body temperature, abnormal EEG, a strong bilateral difference in the face? We talked about embedding a sensor into the two arms of eye glasses, or teaming up two hearing aids as sensors. We thought it would be hard to detect all strokes reliably, but a device that could detect a significant percentage of strokes might have good utility.
  • I gave an update on the Standalone Intelligent Sensor platform. Bob and I have the software and PCB finished. We've built a number of units and have them monitoring our own homes as test cases. The software, documentation, and parts list are all going up on GitHub now. I asked why many people would express and interest in the project but then never follow up. It might be that while every son and daughter like the idea, no senior may enjoy the monitoring. Richard said that some of his PERS research indicates that there could be a need for a platform that is a one-time purchase and no on-going monthly charge. Others suggested that we might make a sensor that provides some value to the senior - perhaps an alarm clock that would report over the Internet if it was *not* turned off in a timely fashion. Someone suggested giving the senior more control by adding a "don't monitor me now" switch; perhaps mom is ok with a sensor on the refrigerator but doesn't want her son to know *every* time the door is open. Adding a button that turns off monitoring for 10 minutes might give the senior enough control to accept the benefits of peace of mind monitoring.
  • In the area of remote passive monitoring, a woman's hair brush was suggested as a target. It gets daily use and has a handle big enough to receive some monitoring hardware. It could sit in a base station like a cordless toothbrush so that it gets recharged every night.
  • It was suggested that monitoring should be hidden enough that others don't know the subject is being monitored; few people want to walk around with a shoe box of electronics around their neck. New PERS devices are small and not too ugly. Several are built into things that look like wrist watches; others snap to a belt. It was suggested that they could be concealed in a broach; I thought of those old Star Trek communication chest patches. We also discussed that a host of sensors could be concealed in a vest - one that looks like a vest anyone might wear. It could use a smart phone in a pocket for the communication center. One issue that always comes up is how to keep these devices charged.
  • One group talked about the need for FDA approval of medical devices and how a team could design to avoid the need for approval. Approval is a good thing and necessary for many devices/services. However, a team could look closely at their value proposition and decide if a slight change in focus could get them to market with a MVP sooner. Then they could extend the MVP into a version 2 product and deal with FDA approval at that time.

In the end, everyone stayed until we had to end at 9pm. We had a lively crowd. I could see several connections being made with promises to follow up outside the meeting.

Thanks to Voler systems for the pizza and drinks.



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