Monday, September 25, 2006

The Hague Telecom Day (5)

In the afternoon of Den Haag Telecom day 2006, some selected applications of broadband were presented. One of them was remote care.

In the Netherlands we are expecting the silver tsunami in less than 10 years we will have an increase of people getting over 65 years of age. This is the aftermath of the baby boom of 1945-1955. Many people will stop working and start getting state pension. It will also mean imply that care for the elderly will have to increase as the silver tsunami will grow and the people live longer. This will pose a problem in health care. The amount of health care workers needed will not keep up with the amount of people needing care. So, remote care is one of the applications being developed.

Of course there are many companies working on this problem worldwide. Yet we have not seen yet an application from Philips, for example. As this company is specialising in health products over the last years, you would expect a product with around one of their main production lines: television. But one of the health care companies in the Netherlands, Sensire, has an application under development. It is a small box with three cables: one for electricity, one for television and one for internet. It is a basic television set with a small set-top box, which includes a webcam. (Again another set-top box, along with the digital television set-top box, the dvd recorder, etc; please folks get out your equipment racks).

The service is basically intended for contact between the client and the care taker. Instead of visiting the client the care taker can now contact the client and talk how he/she is feeling. Instead of getting on the bike or in the car, the care taker can contact more clients remotely, while the general practitioner can diagnose the patient remotely. So the care taker can check whether a client is taking his/her pills, remote consult by the general practitioner, but most of all the set-top box functions also as a Skype with video. Parents can reach their children, who might be living elsewhere, talk to them and see their grand children. So the social effect of this type of application is greater than the traditional telephone.

Personally, I am looking forward to this type of remote care. Having a mother in an old folks home, more than an hours drive away, contact by telephone is not sufficient. She does not see the caller and usually guesses who it is; sometimes she is right, sometimes she mixes up her own children. Visual contact would improve this. It would also make life less lonely for these people, when they can call up their kids (of 56 or so) and their grand children. Besides the care in the old folks home, it would supply an extra pair of eyes.

Sensire is now experimenting with the application. Next year it will start rolling out the application. In fact it should be a mother’s day gift. In the professional care, the client will get a set-top box from the organisation. Other people such as family, relatives and friends can buy the set-top box or link in their computer by downloading software.


Blog Posting Number: 519

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