Who's Mind­ing the Par­ents?

Telus ex­plores how tech­nol­ogy might al­low the el­derly to stay in their homes

BC Business Magazine - - Celebrating 45 Years - — F.S. ■

As “chief dreamer” for Telus Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Co., Allen Devine comes up with new ways to use tech­nol­ogy. A con­cept may re­main just that or end up be­ing de­vel­oped by Telus and/or an­other com­pany. One area Devine is ex­plor­ing is us­ing the In­ter­net of Things to pro­long peo­ple's in­de­pen­dence as they age.

For ex­am­ple, plac­ing sen­sors around the house could mon­i­tor ag­ing par­ents or grand­par­ents in a way that doesn't in­vade their pri­vacy but will alert fam­ily mem­bers or care providers of a change in be­hav­iour pat­terns: if the fridge door isn't opened or the cof­fee maker isn't turned on by a cer­tain time in the morn­ing, that could be a sig­nal that some­thing is wrong. A TV screen built into a door could rec­og­nize that a se­nior is head­ing out­side in the mid­dle of the night and video con­fer­ence in a fam­ily mem­ber to sug­gest go­ing back to bed. Even toys can be adapted to more se­ri­ous pur­poses: a Sphero BB-8 toy Star Wars an­droid that maps a room as it col­lides with solid ob­jects could be modified to de­tect when an el­derly per­son has fallen down and call for help.

Closer to home, Devine has con­nected a Philips Hue light bulb, which can be op­er­ated re­motely and changes colour, to his mother's sleep mon­i­tor. If the light is green in the morn­ing, he knows that she had a good rest. Yel­low means she was toss­ing and turn­ing, and if the light turns red, she slept poorly or got up early, so he should prob­a­bly check in on her. Devine is also ex­per­i­ment­ing with de­vices from smart light bulbs in his mum's suite that mea­sure how long it takes her to walk down the hall­way—a slower pace could in­di­cate health is­sues—to sen­sors in the bath­tub that can trig­ger it to au­to­mat­i­cally drain if she loses con­scious­ness.

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