There are many reasons for parents to be concerned about their children. On the one hand, there is a lot going on in the world today, which is something that has made parents more conscience about the safety and wellbeing of their children. On the other hand you have parents that want their children to be free and run around and enjoy themselves.
Both of these circumstances have the same end result being that all parents want their kids to be safe. This is an area for which wearable technology is well suited. In fact, over the past year we have seen several startups running Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns to produce devices that will give parents piece of mind.
There is a flip side, which is a simple fact of life, as parents get older they become the ones who need to be looked after by their children. Once again we see that wearable technology takes a prominent role, this time in the form of mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).
PERS, which have also been referred to as medical alarms or medical alerts are designed to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to summon emergency medical personnel. Typical systems have a wireless pendant or transmitter that can be activated in an emergency. When the medical alarm is activated, the signal is transmitted to an alarm monitoring company's central station, other emergency agency or other programmed phone numbers. Medical personnel are then dispatched to the site where the alarm was activated.
Securus, Inc. is a company that provides advanced mobile safety and security solutions through dealers and retailers. The combination of the Securus M2M Technology Platform and its partners enable mobile safety and security products for individuals with special needs, senior citizens, children and pets.
Tom Collopy president and CEO of Securus, brings over 27 years of experience in a broad-range of technical, management, marketing and business development positions in Qualcomm, startup company Xcella, IBM and Ford. As vice president of engineering for Qualcomm and a co-founder of the Qualcomm Processor (News - Alert) Design Center, Tom was responsible for the development of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors which power numerous smartphones and tablets.
Over the past year, Securus has given us eResponder and eCare+Voice, both of which enable independent living for seniors while giving peace of mind to caregivers by providing two-way voice anywhere, anytime. Collopy remarked that “We want to help seniors live independently longer by providing simple to use, easy to wear products that offer help at the touch of a button. By enabling two way voice connections to emergency care specialists throughout the home and away from home, we can help give peace of mind to both users and their loved ones. We work closely with a network of dealers and partners to deliver this innovative solution to customers.”
Perhaps it is the way that TV portrays the seniors in PERS commercials that has made me wonder if these devices are very useful or just a convenient way for people to unburden themselves of the responsibility of looking after their parents. It was with this in mind that I asked Collopy a few questions.
Do you think that a majority of younger people rely on PERS to take away some of the burden of caring for their older relatives?
My parents and my mother-in-law use the Securus eResponder mobile PERS device. I’m one of six children in my family, but none of us live close to my parents. We asked my parents to wear eResponder to make it easier for them to get help in an emergency, since we couldn’t respond quickly or 24 hours a day in case something happened. My dad has Parkinson’s disease, so he is prone to losing his balance, especially when he gets up during the night. My parents used eResponder to get help for him once when he fell. I get peace of mind knowing that they can get help more quickly using eResponder than if they called me when something happens. My mother-in-law, who lives 15 minutes away, also asked to have one of the devices. She feels better knowing she can get help quickly, even though we live nearby.
Has it become more of a convenience than anything else?
Based on my personal experience, PERS devices are far more than a convenience for someone who has fallen, needs help and can’t get to a phone to call for assistance. Many seniors want to remain independent for as long as possible, and PERS devices are a way adult children can enable their parents to both stay independent and get emergency help when needed, regardless of how close or far away their children live.
With the ability of the new nationwide cellular PERS that do not rely on a landline, should people who rely on these be driving a car?
I don’t think having a PERS device means you are unable to drive. My mother-in-law is a very capable driver who also wants a PERS device in case something unexpected happens, such as a fall. Mobile PERS devices can be used by seniors with a broad range of mobility levels, including active seniors who leave home to run errands and visit family and friends. eResponder can also be used in and around the home, including in the bedroom and in the shower. Having a mobile PERS device simply enables the user to have a large coverage range in which they can get help if needed.
I mentioned the TV commercials above and after reading Collopy’s responses, I realized what bothered me about them. In all instances, the adults seem to live in walking distance of their parents and regularly drop by. When you take Collopy’s concerns that out of six kids not one lives close enough to simply drop by to see if everything is OK, it puts a completely different light on the situation.
Wearable devices, such as those worn by children are designed to give their parents peace of mind, PERS perform the same function. In addition to being a medical alert device in case something happens to a person, it is also comforting to know that whether you live across the street or across the country, should anything happen to your loved ones, help is just a push of a button away.
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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