Lively: Empower Aging In Place With Passive Activity Sensors
As the population ages, more and more people are choosing to stay in their homes and in their communities. Children of elderly parents, oftentimes hundreds of miles away, are turning to connected home technologies to keep a peace of mind. Companies like Lively are making it possible for folks to age gracefully and still feel independent through a wearable safety watch and strategically placed, small, unobtrusive sensors, that learn and track daily activity throughout the home. Sensor data are sent to a central hub and then unbundled to sense routine behaviors and lapses, and Lively notifies issues to family members accordingly via an app and through notifications.
We spoke with Ignacio Fanlo, Co-Founder and CEO of Lively, to learn more about his vision for a safe and normal in-home aging lifestyle. Iggy and the Lively team did hundreds of hours of research to understand their end user. First they wanted to know if people would rather have a help button (think “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”) or a watch that acts more as an activity tracker and medication reminder system with a small help button on the side. “The overwhelming population chose the watch over a help button. We got two responses for why – the first is that the watch preserves dignity and self-worth, and the second is that a true medical emergency doesn’t happen often enough to make it the focus of the product, instead a help button should be a feature,” says Iggy. “A wearer will interact with it 10-15 times a day, so for every time he has to push the help button (it calls a nurse call center), he will have interacted with the product thousands of times.”
The original design of the product was done by Fred Bould, a world-class industrial designer, known for his work with Roku, the Nest thermostat, and GoPro. The sensors are tuned for different placements around the house. “We suggest putting it on pillboxes (done by 90+%) for two of the sensors and one on the fridge (done by 80-90% of people).” Iggy continues, “The fourth sensor is a custom one so you’ll see it placed on a variety of objects – on the bathroom door, the toilet seat, shower door, TV remote, walker, piano stool, or cabinet door for tea and coffee.”
Currently, the help button on the watch only works when connected to the central hub. Most falls happen at home and for the ones that occur outside, there are generally other people around to assist. Still, since the public has asked for it, Iggy announces, “In April, we will upgrade the Android app so you can use the emergency capability of the watch outside the hub radius. If I push the help button and the watch is connected to my phone, the watch will initiate a call through my carrier. We’ll launch on iOS in the summer.”
While four sensors paint a base picture of daily activity, the system will allow for additions in the next several months. Lively is working on partnerships with third party Bluetooth enabled devices (e.g. inhalers for COPD and asthma, pulse oximeters, blood glucose meters, bed sensors, scales), to allow non-Lively products to connect to the Lively hub so users will have all monitored data on one platform. These partnerships should roll out over time, starting late this year.
Lively is available in the US and in early June the product with the watch will expand to the UK. “The total potential number of users in the UK is almost the same as in the US,” says Iggy, excited about the next string of launches. The safety watch will also be available soon in Australia and New Zealand.