Dawn of the age of the app for in-home care

The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) has released a guide to broadband-connected services outlining how apps and remote monitoring will enabled new services to be offered in health, aged care, education and energy.

The ACBI's App-trepreneur’s Guide to Broadband Connected Services report uses case studies from the recent Apps4Broadband competition, which saw $65,000 in prize money awarded to innovative app ideas.

Amongst the highly commended apps in the competition were RemoteMinder, a low cost movement monitoring system for in-home aged care; Faller, a platform which monitors falls and via a telepresence service for the elderly using wearable devices; and Care for Me, a simple activity monitoring system for in-home aged care.

The joint winner of the best health, education or social services app was Pepster, a home-based breathing exercise app and device for cystic fibrosis patients.

ACBI director Colin Griffith said we are at the dawn of a new ‘App Age’, where broadband networks will allow us to better manage our home energy use and support the elderly living independently at home by connecting people in their homes with services enabled by sensors and cloud computing.

“With predictions that by 2020 the average person will own six smart devices connecting us to over 37 billion ‘things’, from cows in the field, to our car, to our washing machine, it’s clear that a better broadband infrastructure will revolutionise the way we access services in the home,” Mr Griffith said.

The ACBI worked in conjunction with Intel, iiNet, Foxtel, Pottinger, NSW Trade and Investment, NBN Co, CSIRO and NICTA on the Apps4Broadband competition, which Mr Griffith said was designed to help Australians better understand what is possible through the smart use of broadband as well as accelerate the ability of developers to realise new opportunities by connecting with service providers, technology partners and end users to build game-changing apps.

“We’ve had a great response from developers who have come up with some really interesting and new ways for people to access health, energy, education, retail, security, entertainment and many more services,” he said.

“The diversity of these ideas not only demonstrates the tangible benefits of broadband to the public but also suggests that we have only scratched the surface in identifying future business models and services which leverage our national broadband infrastructure.”

The App-trepreneur’s Guide to Broadband Connected Services uses Pepster as an example of the potential. Developed by Brisbane-based start-up company HSK Instruments in conjunction with experts in cystic fibrosis at the Mater Children's Hospital and the School of IT and Electrical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Pepster assists in respiratory physiotherapy for cystic fibrosis patients.

“With high-speed broadband, Pepster will relieve the need for patients to travel long distances to specialist cystic fibrosis centres to monitor their progress,” according to the case study.

“In addition to this, clinicians are able to see a patient’s performance without direct supervision.”

Pepster consists of a piece of hardware called Acquisition that collects respiratory data during the positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy and sends it in real time to an associated smart tablet or phone device with Pepster Apps.

Pepster Apps is a suite of applications that allows the user to view, interpret or use the received data in a number of ways, including as a game for patients to perform their PEP exercises or one designed for parents to view their child’s performance and reward them accordingly.

The data is pre-processed and sent over a wireless network to a server where it is processed further into information from clinicians.

The Pepster system is currently undergoing further clinical trials for a future submission for approval to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The overall winner was TutorBee, a platform to allow tutors to give interactive lessons to students in their homes.

Posted in Aged Care

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