GHP September 2015

ghp September 2015 | 75 health and social care We examine how assistive technologies can enable care to take place outside of hospitals, for example in private houses or care homes. Home care and assisted living can bring about a num- ber of problems for security, both external and internal, with patients often struggling to take care of certain tasks such as turning off appliances or locking doors. A solution to this is assistive technology, which is designed to support aspects of wellbeing, safety and independence in people with disabilities and help their carers to take care of them remotely; reducing stress to the person they care for as well as allowing the caregiver more time to take care of other tasks. An example of an assistive technology platform is Tecomms, the flagship product of Talking Eye Limited. The platform is an always-on, always-cloud-connected monitoring device that can be used for assisted-living as well as for security and appliance automation. Tecomms consists of a powerful central unit that connects to the cloud through wifi or cellular with battery-backup. The central unit can interface with a wide range of sensors and devices, extending the choice of many applications to be available and used. The product provides a number of features which enable assisted care, such as providing alerts, so that when unusual occurrences or emergencies such trips, falls, unwanted callers to the home at unexpected times occur, the carer is made aware of this remotely and is able to use other functions such as the remote communication function or the monitoring function to solve the issue. The Tecomms patented technology is unique in pro- viding voice-to-voice and data communications from the front door to anywhere in the world, over mobile networks, which means that consumers have access to technology from Talking Eye Limited that cannot be purchased from other firms. The product is easy to use and requires little instruc- tion, with set-up options designed to personalise the features and ensure that the product provides assistance to individual needs. There is also the option to remotely control other electrical appliances in the home remotely, enabling users to turn on or off any electrical appliance or device in their home that has been paired to the Tecomms system. Tecomms also integrates with the majority of other technology solutions already established in the home. The product has been built on an ‘open platform’ making it compatible with a range of platforms and devices (Apple and Android, for example, and across all UK mobile network operators). This allows custom- ers to use the platform with their existing devices rath- er than purchasing new ones to use on the product. This open platform is a major part of Talking Eye’s ethos, with the company being dedicated to develop- ing highly innovative solutions that work within existing mobile networks, allowing for greater application of the technology for customers. Since incorporation, the company has invested more than half a million pounds in Research & Development to ensure the technology is the best it can be. An important element in the firm’s product development for Tecomms was an independent consumer survey, conducted across six consumer groups, to determine how people would react to the product. The company was keen to emphasize the far reaching appeal of the technology among a range of customers. “Tecomms has strong appeal and interest across all age ranges, with a particularly high intention to purchase from the Empty Nesters/Grey Market. This group ac- counts for 65% of UK Homeowners.” The survey outlined what customers thought of the technology, with key highlights including: • 97% of those surveyed expressed an intention to purchase • Product concept was exceptionally popular and performed remarkably well. • They were very interested in purchasing the product as it covered a particular lifestyle need that no other product in the market offered • They confirmed the features were valuable • Consumers understood the device and all its func- tions very quickly and easily • The perceived cost was considerably more than actual cost The research also focused on both the functionality and convenience of the Tecomms, with the fact that the technology is easy to use and the ability to identify visitors remotely without having to open the door being highlighted as important by those surveyed. The product allows peace of mind for the carers of vulner- able people, particularly the elderly for whom safety can often be a major issue. This is also a major issue for those with memory affecting diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with num- bers set to rise to over 1mn by 2025 and 2mn by 2051. Carers of people with the disease could use assistive technology such as Tecomms to help them juggle their schedules with taking care of their friend or relative, particularly in cases where the carer does not live in the same house as the person they are looking after. Additionally, the technology has a place in care homes, where it could be used by staff to ensure the wellbeing of residents, for example ensuring that their appliances are all switched off after they have gone to bed without entering their room and frightening the resident. Therefore Tecomms can be used to ensure peace of mind for the caregiver and safety and reassurance for the person they are caring for. It has far reaching and important potential in the assisted living environment, with the potential to revolutionise the way in which care is provided to the elderly and vulnerable outside of hos- pitals. Caring for people in their own homes can improve their peace of mind and make them feel more secure.