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In our youth-obsessed world, nobody likes to think about getting old and frail. But it happens to us all (if we are lucky) and we would all like to stay active and independent for as long as possible. Independa is unveiling a system today at the DEMO conference which allows family caregivers to monitor the well-being of their elderly relatives when they can’t be physically present and gives the elderly easy access to services they need.
Similar monitoring systems are out in the marketplace. But a major difference between Independa and its competitors (GE Healthcare, Healthsense and WellAware) is that Independa’s offering is aimed at family members rather than health professionals.
At the core of the system is a customized Android tablet called Angela. Angela gives one-touch access to email, Facebook, video chat and other services, and does not require any particular computer skills. Angela also acts as a hub for data gathered by a variety of health, environment and activity sensors in the home. Health sensors include weighing scales, pulse oximeters (which measure oxygen levels and heartbeat), and blood pressure monitors. Environment and activity monitors track things like air temperature,whether the person has gotten out of bed or the front door has been left open.
The data gathered by the sensors is saved to the cloud via a 3G wireless connection and integrated with Google Health‘s online health records. (Google Health is designed to store and manage all of your health information in one central place.) Caregivers configure alerts based on sensor information via Independa’s website. You could ask for an alert when your relative has been in the house all day but the refrigerator hasn’t been opened, or if she hasn’t gotten out of bed four hours after her normal rising time.
Independa provides the entire service: tablet, sensors and text-message or voice alerts for caregivers. Angela costs $499 and subscriptions costs $19.95-$99.95 per month, depending on the number of sensors and the levels of monitoring required. Independa was founded in 2009 in California, is privately funded and has 20 employees.
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