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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

CES 2018: Casting the spotlight on caregiver innovation

Whether we like it or not, the world is changing – daily, with new and improved forms of innovation released to the public more frequently than ever before.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 exhibited a number of exciting things to come in the field of caregiver innovation, with a strong emphasis on recognising the role of caregivers and their importance in the lives of those they care for.

Caregiver recognition and the importance of their role

This year, a stand-out theme by various technology companies across the board at the CES show was the very clear and heightened recognition of caregivers and the important role they play. Rather than simply focusing on the needs of the elderly or ill, these companies have begun to show a focus on the needs of caregivers as well.

During the course of the exhibition, tech companies reiterated their awareness of the caregiver role, most especially of family members who become an integral part of the caregiving journey. It was made clear that future innovation will also focus closely on how to further aid caregivers in their role, making life a little easier for both parties.

With the role of the caregiver in mind, a company known as Seniorlink have developed a collaborative model, combing human touch and technology to assist in the realm of caregiving. The model is based around a caregiving team, where a family member is the ‘team leader’, supported by a number of technological innovations to assist in everyday caregiving tasks.

Technological innovations to look out for

  • Autonomous vehicles

The advent of the self-driving car is fast approaching, with the aim of restoring independence for seniors and taking the pressure off caregivers.

At CES 2017, developers highlighted their plans to work on not only autonomous vehicles, but autonomous transit options, including smart cities, smart busses and more, with the overall aim of accommodating seniors, both frail and able-bodied to go about their daily lives with a little more independence.

Accessible Olli is one such autonomous vehicle to look out for in the near future. A project supported by IBM, Local Motors and CTA Foundation, Accessible Olli is set to be one of the most accessible self-driving vehicles for seniors on the market.

  • Voice control and connected homes

At CES 2018 voice control devices and the connected home was a highly popular theme. These voice controlled, connected homes allow seniors to control simple functions throughout their homes with their voice. Just some of these functions include the locking of doors, adjusting lighting, controlling electronics such as TVs, radios, kettles, and more.

This voice control feature is available via ‘personal assistant’ devices manufactured by Google, with Google Assistance and Amazon, with Alexa. These voice controlled devices have the ability to turn a senior’s home into a place of convenience and accessibility, without having to lift a finger, aimed largely at frail or immobile seniors.

  • Fall prevention innovation

Generally, the first fall for many seniors is one with life-changing effects, which can lead to long periods of recovery time, immobility and in some cases, even death. This is why fall prevention and technological innovations are a high priority for many innovators in today’s day and age. While there are already a number of technologies available on the market for fall notification and alerts for first responders, fall prevention technology is still limited.  

Some of the technology in the pipeline for fall prevention includes specialised shoes and other wearable devices which signal a change in balance and the potential for a fall, providing a notification of the situation.

Additionally, a belt fitted with inflatable airbags has been developed by Helite, offering cushioning upon falling to protect fragile hips and joints. The belt also provides a notification to caregivers when a fall occurs. While innovation in this field is still relatively limited, there are positive signs of growth and plenty of potential!

CES 2017 offered a great insight into the future of caregiving and the positive action being taken to improve the lives of seniors and those that care for them, the world over.

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