Written by Alex Hodgkinson.  This article is part of our Red Papers business content series.

It seems such a clever and simple solution to help the elderly continue to live in their own home, and it is. AbiBird is a movement sensor that uses Vodafone’s Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology to support people who want to maintain their independence as they get older. The device discreetly monitors the comings and goings around the home and is paired to the smartphone of a family member or carer. If something’s out of kilter, an alert is sent to the phone.

“There’s generally been a lack of technical innovation in aged care for 30 or 40 years from where I sit, and it’s been very staid and boring,” says AbiBird’s General Manager James Tucker. “AbiBird is an Australian invention and a great solution to the normal worries people have about the wellbeing of their older parents and relatives.”

The reality is that falls are a leading cause of injury for people over 65, and more than 65% of falls requiring hospital treatment occur at home or in residential care.

“If Granny hasn’t gone to the kitchen to make breakfast, or hasn’t got out of bed according to her normal routine, then the AbiBird sensor sends an alert to the smartphone of connected family who can make an assessment of whether to call or visit to make sure everything’s okay,” says James.

There are no cameras or microphones, so no intrusion to privacy. “The sensors track activity every few seconds, and transmit the activity data to the cloud every hour, allowing family and carers to track the activity within the home on their smartphone app,” says James. “A key difference between AbiBird and alternative products is that AbiBird offers wireless, unobtrusive monitoring without the need for a wearable device or phone or internet connection within the home.”

 

“AbiBird is the coming together of IoT technology and mobile app technology in an affordable mix to create a wonderful ecosystem,” explains James Tucker, “and it’s a perfect fit for the Vodafone NB-IoT network. The technology enables secure, low cost, low power, cellular connectivity between the sensor and the app. And it also means a battery life of up to 12 months.”

AbiBird operates straight out of the box, and families have full control of the set up.

The AbiBird sensor is a standalone device, and simple to operate.  “The average home requires two units, one in the living, kitchen area, and one in the bedroom,” according to James Tucker. “The lens looks 15 metres at 90 degrees, and covers 80 square metres of space.” Any number of phones can then be paired to the units.

Smart, non-intrusive solutions for aged care is a growing market. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population who are 60+ years will nearly double from 12% to 22% ,and AbiBird has plans to expand both its market reach and its product range.

The company is now trialling a push-button wearable device with location technology called AbiButton. “This is a device a person can wear outside of the home and push if they need assistance,” explains James Tucker.  “The person receiving the information will be able to locate them within 30 – 100 metres. We’re very excited about its potential to help safeguard the elderly and others, such as children when they’re away from home, or lone-workers when they’re on the road.”

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