Can Smart Objects be more than Uninvited Guests?

Uninvited Guests is an interesting short film (HatTip: TelecareAware) produced by Superflux Lab for the ThinTank project to explore the frictions between an elderly widow and his smart home.

mHealth Insights

The acting talent is stunning (imagine how good a Robot & Frank style movie would be with James Leahy?) and the short video makes for a great conversation starter but the impression I’m left with about ‘smart objects’ reminds me of how the smartphone industry used to be tech focused before the iPhone arrived – the ‘smart’ used to refer to the user as in ‘you have to be incredibly smart to be able to operate this technological wonder’ before it became a phone that was so smart it would help the user.

I think it’s equally important we realise how poorly families with their own busy lives currently try to manage to cope with the remote care needs of their elderly relatives:

1) They don’t provide it: Even in this video you get to experience the isolation that many widowed seniors tolerate. Strip out the insensitive SMS’s this gentleman is getting from his children and he’d be left with even less. This is a major issue because society is leaving many behind as it moves to mobile and there are lots of simple, easy to do things that we can all do about it.

2) The cost of not knowing: The quality of today’s communication between carers of the elderly who live alone is greatly effected by unspoken things (eg. there’s very often an unspoken message in calls made that is saying to the Patient “are you okay?”, “have you fallen?”, “do you need help?”) that impact greatly on the quality of communication. If you find this hard to understand imagine if all your calls started under the proviso that you were a burden to the caller.

3) The Healthcare Industry isn’t doing a great job: In the majority of instances we’re doing a terrible job providing health monitoring tools that are so outdated children don’t even understand them and then just using them to further intensify the treatment. It’s easy to laugh at the stupidity of the insensitively prescribed and clumsily designed fork/cane/bed sensor shown in the video but they are at least connected! Perhaps it’s time we started complaining about the unconnected medical devices we’re prescribing to millions of elderly Patients that don’t come with any interactivity or connected communities/services?

Let’s try and be productive and think of some things that we could give ‘dad’ to help him:

1) Nintendo Wii SportsClub so he can play games online and socialise with his friends and grandchildren:

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.02.23

2) A Facebook profile so he can find and connect with people with similar interests.

Health benefits of social media networking

3) A SeNCit for his home so he can maintain his privacy while his children are given confirmation that he’s up/about/okay. This will also prevent them from needing to contact him to check if he’s okay and that will help them focus their effort and attentions to providing him with social interactions:

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.08.45

What smart connected objects would you add?

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