One-touch smartphone with motion analytics sets Indiegogoing

Brisbane-based start-up company Ollo Mobile is getting ready to release a one-touch smartphone aimed at older people, having reached its target on crowd-funding site Indiegogo.

Ollo Mobile is developing a voice-controlled smartphone called CloudPhone that also includes an accelerometer to detect falls, as well as lifestyle analytics that will allow family members to monitor an older person's movements over a day or month and be alerted if there are changes.

The CloudPhone has only one button for the older person to touch and uses voice-activated dialling, using voice activation in the cloud. It contains indoor and outdoor geolocation, conference calling capabilities and is waterproof, so it can be worn in the shower. It also has a 10-day battery life and a plug-free charging cradle.

Having put their own money into its development and raising over $50,000 on Indiegogo, Ollo Mobile aims to have the first models ready for release in July. The company is aiming for a global market, and according to co-founder Hugh Geiger, is in talks with telecommunications carriers to develop a global SIM card so it can be used anywhere.

The device can be worn around the neck, on a keychain or put in a pocket. Co-founder and company CTO Ken Macken said CloudPhone is designed for people who may have trouble using other mobile devices such as the elderly and the disabled, but can also be used to keep track of and communicate with children.

The device was a national finalist in the start-up category at the 2013 iAwards, and also won cloud hosting firm Rackspace's Small Teams Big Impact (STBI) competition in Sydney last year. Mr Geiger told US tech blogger and author Robert Scoble that the company had been set up in response to an injury to an older member of his family.

He said the difference between CloudPhone and popular devices such as panic alarms was that it was a direct communication device.

“With panic alarms, a call centre sits in the middle between the family and the elderly person,” he said. “What we are looking for is to make it easier for the family to communicate directly with the elderly person. You don't need to have a call centre – the elderly person just presses a button on the device and we connect the whole family to talk to the person.”

He said this would be important for the company's plans to market to some developing nations where a call centre system often doesn't work due to financial and cultural reasons.

The company has designed all of the hardware and software itself, he said.

“We are dealing with a cellular platform for the hardware device, we are making a cloud platform for voice and data routing in a cloud environment and we are making a companion app, which is how the family is going to interact with the device,” he said.

“It is voice controlled and uses normal semantic speech that goes to the cloud platform and is routed to the family member. If you are not there, our system makes sure it gets through to somebody. If you have a fall you might not be able to articulate your location so there will be geolocation with WiFi and it will show the family on their phone where the person is.

“But we also said what else can we do to make this platform make sense for our family. So we put a multi-access accelerometer on it that will allow us to detect falls.”

The accelerometer also allows family members to constantly monitor the person's activity and map it throughout the day, month and year, showing how often they are inside or outside and how physically active they are at different times of the day.

“We are going to map that against their medication and care, so if you get a different doctor, what was the impact on the level of wellness of your mother when she changed care provider or when she changed blood pressure medication,” he said. “She may feel … less well, and that might translate into less physical activity and that can be a leading indicator of her health declining. As a family, that might not be noticed until it's too late.”

However, he said the device was a communication tool first and an emergency assistance device second.

“If they want to talk to you they just call you, you press it and answer it. If you want to call them, you just press it and it calls. It is a really simple cellular device that they don't have to think about. The added benefit is that if they do experience a fall, it is there to assist them.”

The device uses global GSM and the company is talking to carriers about a global SIM card so it will work in most cellular markets.

Mr Geiger said the company was in discussions with several universities about research and development. Ollo Mobile hopes to deliver the first device in July, and is offering early adopters and Indiegogo donors a model for $149 and three months' free use. It is envisaged that a monthly plan will cost around $30.

Posted in Aged Care

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