NOT JUST FOR KIDS

▶ Se­niors a fo­cus at Ve­gas tech show

Global Times - - LIFE -

With ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to de­tect falls, vir­tual re­al­ity to com­bat iso­la­tion and “pow­ered” cloth­ing to as­sist the in­ca­pac­i­tated, the tech world is step­ping up its ef­fort to “dis­rupt” ag­ing.

At the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show last week in Las Ve­gas, ex­hibitors were show­cas­ing new ways to help the el­derly re­main in­de­pen­dent, men­tally fit and con­nected.

Some sys­tems took a page from the gam­ing world of young­sters to help se­niors “travel” to new places and con­nect with loved ones.

“Ev­ery­one knows se­niors get lonely but that iso­la­tion can also lead to a lot of med­i­cal prob­lems, in­clud­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tion of de­men­tia,” said Kyle Rand, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ren­de­ver, a startup which works with as­sisted liv­ing homes to give se­niors a way to vir­tu­ally visit re­mote lo­ca­tions.

“They can stand atop the Eif­fel Tower, they can go on an African sa­fari, or re­visit their child­hood home.”

Ren­de­ver was launched in the Wash­ing­ton DC tech in­cu­ba­tor cre­ated by the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Per­sons (AARP), which in re­cent years has been fund­ing ef­forts to de­velop new tech­nolo­gies for se­nior citezens.

In the con­sumer space from the AARP in­cu­ba­tor, Al­cove VR en­ables se­niors to be part of a vir­tual world with loved ones who may be far away.

“You can step into a vir­tual liv­ing room with a friend or fam­ily mem­ber and just hang out,” said Cezara Win­drem, the AARP prod­uct man­ager for Al­cove.

Al­cove was launched this week as a free ap­pli­ca­tion on Ocu­lus, the Face­book-owned vir­tual re­al­ity unit.

The AARP ex­hibit also in­cluded VRHealth, which of­fers cog­ni­tive be­hav­ioral ther­apy us­ing vir­tual re­al­ity, and Pillo, a de­vice which serves as a per­sonal as­sis­tant and med­i­ca­tion dis­penser fo­cused on health for se­niors.

Vir­tual care­givers

Other ex­hibitors show­cased tech­nol­ogy that could help se­niors re­main in their homes, and give fam­ily mem­bers peace of mind by mon­i­tor­ing their con­di­tion, in some cases us­ing pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics to de­ter­mine if they are at risk.

Wal­abot, a wall-mounted mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem de­vel­oped by the Is­raeli startup Vay­yar, uses ra­dio waves and three-di­men­sional imag­ing to keep tabs on se­niors liv­ing alone.

“You don’t need to wear any­thing, there are no cam­eras,” said Ofer Fam­i­lier, head of busi­ness devel­op­ment for Vay­yar.

The com­pany, which makes a range of sen­sor equip­ment, says Wal­abot can de­tect sub­tle changes in gait, move­ment or breath­ing which could sig­nal a risk of a fall or other prob­lem.

“We can de­tect falls, but the pre­dic­tive as­pect of it is to mon­i­tor changes in be­hav­ior so we can alert fam­ily mem­bers,” Fam­i­lier said.

Also launched at CES was the Ad­di­son Vir­tual Care­giver, a video-based as­sis­tant with a fe­male avatar which can con­verse, of­fer re­minders on med­i­ca­tion and de­tect po­ten­tial health is­sues.

With the data gath­ered from the de­vice, “we can clas­sify peo­ple as high-risk or low-risk fall­ers,” said David Kee­ley, re­search di­rec­tor for Ad­di­son par­ent firm SameDay Se­cu­rity.

“We can pre­dict the rate of func­tional de­cline.”

Ali­cia Man­gram, a Phoenix-based trauma sur­geon who is an ad­vi­sor to Ad­di­son, said the sys­tem can be use­ful in help­ing se­niors re­main in­de­pen­dent.

“Right now when we send peo­ple home [ from a hos­pi­tal] we don’t know what hap­pens to them,” Man­gram said.

“This al­lows us to check on them.” Florida-based startup CarePre­dict ex­hib­ited its sys­tem based on a wear­able band that helps mon­i­tor se­niors in as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“We can pas­sively and un­ob­tru­sively mon­i­tor the daily ac­tiv­i­ties of se­niors, and our pre­dic­tive tools can help iden­tify if they are at risk of falls, de­pres­sion, mal­nu­tri­tion or uri­nary tract in­fec­tions,” said CarePre­dict’s Jerry Wilmink.

Tech firms see a promis­ing mar­ket in these kinds of de­vices, with pub­lic at­ten­tion fo­cused by the Ap­ple Watch’s fea­ture of fall de­tec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search firm eMar­keter, Amer­i­cans of age 55 and older are the fastest-grow­ing group of elec­tronic wear­able users in the US, largely due to the de­vices’ en­hanced health fea­tures.

Ar­ti­fi­cial mus­cles

For those with mo­bil­ity is­sues, the Cal­i­for­nia startup Seis­mic un­veiled its wear­able tech body suit which can aug­ment a user’s mus­cles and help them main­tain pos­ture.

The “core well­ness suit,” which weighs un­der three kilo­grams and can be worn un­der street clothes, has ro­botic com­po­nents that pro­vide up to 30 watts of power to each hip and the lower back to sup­port sit­ting, stand­ing, lift­ing, or car­ry­ing – sim­i­lar to an ex­oskele­ton but with­out the bulk.

Sarah Thomas, a Seis­mic vice pres­i­dent and ad­vi­sor to tech star­tups, said the new prod­uct is de­signed not only for the el­derly but for fac­tory work­ers to ease fa­tigue and any­one with mo­bil­ity is­sues.

Thomas said tech prod­ucts for se­niors should not be “stig­ma­tized” with un­sightly prod­ucts.

“We should be de­sign­ing with age in mind but with­out the ageist per­spec­tive,” Thomas told a CES panel.

Pho­tos: VCG

At­ten­dees pho­to­graph Par­rot SA drones be­ing demon­strated dur­ing the 2016 Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show (CES) in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada on Jan­uary 8, 2016.Top: A woman tries out RealMax 100 Aug­mented Re­al­ity glasses to grasp at ob­jects in an AR game on Fri­day at the 2019 Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada.

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