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Portland company, Planet Argon, co-developed technology that helps aging adults live at home longer
Planet Argon is a multidisciplinary team of design, development, and deployment practitioners of web-based products for desktop and mobile platforms. In 2010, iKare Corporation approached Planet Argon with a concept, FamilyLink.
By: Planet Argon
Most people are familiar with medical alert devices, which have been on the market for decades. These devices generally make a call to emergency services when a button is pressed on a device that is worn by an older adult. Unfortunately, many older adults don't feel comfortable wearing these devices because they see them as an affront to their dignity and don't want others to view them as being helpless. In addition, these devices require someone to be conscious and able to press the button in order to work. iKare and Planet Argon took a very different approach.
The FamilyLink device tracks movement throughout one's home using a variety of sensors. It monitors activity ambiently based on the rules the caregiver or family members define. If there is any cause for concern caused by a lack of activity for a certain time duration, the system will notify select members of the aging adult’s network via email or text message.
Not meant to be imposing or interfere with the independence of day-to-day activity, the intention was to find a balance between exposing inactivity while letting the aging adult get on with their daily life. In addition to device usage and motion sensors built into the FamilyLink, the area of coverage can be extended to include other monitoring devices, like door sensors, window sensors, and motion detectors. The data gathered is continuously analyzed for inactivity, which triggers an alert to be sent to connected family members and caregivers. The service offers security and ‘peace of mind’ for aging family members and their loved ones who would previously only discover the incidence of a health emergency long after the event happened. The new capability provided by FamilyLink will add assurance to the family members of aging adults who live hundreds of miles away and are unable to immediately intervene with a physical visit when they’re concerned for the safety of their their loved one.
There are two components of the FamilyLink system, a physical device, with simplified interface that stays in the home of the aging adult and a more robust web application that family members use to interact with their aging relative. The FamilyLink device empowers older generations to communicate using the same social networking features that their younger family members are already familiar with, but provides a lower barrier of entry into social activities with their friends and family. From the web site, caregivers and family members can invite new people into a trusted and secure, private FamilyLink network, set notification preferences, review activity history, initiate video chats, manage contact information, and share pictures with their loved ones. The simplified device interface used by the senior is designed for their needs, a touch screen provides direct accessibility to features that blur the traditional software layers of operating system, web browser, video chat client, and email client into a seamless experience.
Since the product will be purchased by family members living long distances away from the aging adult, the device is easy to setup with no professional installation or computer "know how" required. Planet Argon took that same approach when addressing the interaction required to create and interact in a FamilyLink network. Taking into account that this new technology product focuses on sensitive issues like their parents’ or relatives’ health and safety, it was imperative that the user experience establish confidence for the family member initiating the purchase. Their designers made the process simple and streamlined. As a result, interacting with the device and web application is reassuring, building trust in the capabilities of the system so that family and friends can vacation, sleep soundly, and live life fully knowing that their loved ones are “being looked after.”
More information about the FamliyLink device and service is available at http://www.familylink.net/
Founded in 2002--and active members of the Ruby on Rails ecosystem since 2004--Planet Argon is a mobile and web application design and development agency who are passionate about implementing ideas and growing businesses. To learn more about the services that Planet Argon offers, call 408 372 7466 and/or visit http://planetargon.com.
iKare Corporation is an international team of strategists and engineers dedicated to helping seniors “age in place” safely and in the comfort of their homes while providing their family members with peace of mind and connectivity. To learn more, visit http://www.ikarenetwork.com/