We can’t help but worry about our aging parents and grandparents, but they are often reluctant to adopt new forms of technology that would make communicating with their families easier (Bubby, I’m talking to you).
Lively has created an “activity-sharing platform” that can tighten the connection between senior citizens and their loved ones. Today, the company opened up a Kickstarter campaign to support its product line and generate preorders before general availability this summer. Lively costs $149 plus a $19.95 monthly subscription fee.
More than 40 million people over the age of 65 live alone in the U.S., Europe, and Canada, and a 2011 study conducted by the AARP found that 90 percent of respondents want to stay in their homes indefinitely while they age. On the flip side, Lively estimates that there are 100 million people with some responsibility to care for them, whether it is family members, friends, or neighbors.
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“All of the products aiming to make seniors’ lives seemingly more comfortable often played off of fear and emergency response,” CEO and founder Iggy Fanlo said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Lively isn’t intended to monitor a critical medical condition or trigger personal emergency response. It’s about sharing the daily events of one’s life and routine for connection that fosters well-being and peace of mind. And it helps family members recognize when things do change in an older adult’s daily activity that that may deserve attention.”
The system works using a combination of hardware and software. Aging adults place a series of passive sensors around their homes in places like the refrigerator door or medicine cabinet. These sensors connect with a cellular hub without requiring a phone line or Internet connection. Blending into the background, these collect data about the users’ activities such as medication times, entering and leaving the house, or eating, and they upload it to the cloud. That information is shared then with a close circle of people, like children and grandchildren, through a web or mobile dashboard. The system also involves analytics, so if it records a significant change in behavior, family members will receive notifications.
“Studies have shown that living independently encourages successful aging for older adults through improved self-esteem, health, and life satisfaction,” said Dr. Laura L. Carstensen, the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and a Lively board member, in a statement. “Yet this can be a challenge for extended family who feel responsible for the care of their elders as they’re often ‘sandwiched’ between their aging parents and own children, while balancing jobs and parenting. This generates immeasurable feelings of guilt and worry. Lively’s activity-sharing products apply just the right touch to melt away these concerns and enable an entirely new avenue of connection.”
Fanlo said that Lively’s approach negates the need for parent-sitting because children and grandchildren can ask more meaningful questions than “Did you take your medicine today?” and bridges generational gaps. Another feature is the “LivelyGram” mailer, which allows younger generations to create personal photo books with pictures and notes online, which are then automatically turned into a physical mailer and sent every two weeks.
Fanlo founded Lively after working in tech for 13 years for companies such as AdBrite, eBay, and Shopping.com. Along with cofounders David Glickman and Keith Dutton, they set out to build a company that made use of their tech expertise to solve problems that affect families.
As someone with one remaining grandparent who lives alone, I can vouch for the degree of concern that everyone in our large extended family feels for her on a daily basis. A product like this is more about our peace of minds than hers, but it ultimately finds a compromise between her desire for independence and our desire to make sure she is OK without constantly needing to check-in.
Lively has six full-time employees and is based in San Francisco. Lively closed a $2.5 million seed round in August 2012, led by Maveron Ventures.
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