Adam Vaughan, Unforgettable’s Head of New Product and Innovation, reveals some of the best new tech he spotted at last week’s prestigious Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is the world’s biggest exhibition of the new technology that promises to change our lives in the next few years. It’s the place where the big technology companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook unveil their latest creations to adoring fans (and sometimes biting critics) each with the hope of outdoing the others.
In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of new technology products aimed at helping older people live independently and stay in their own homes for longer. Whilst not specifically developed for people with dementia, I think many of these have great potential. We’ll need to see the prices come down to make them affordable for a lot of people, but hopefully this is something that will happen as the technology becomes more widely used and cheaply available.
Here’s a few of the best products that caught my eye
1. Alcove – take a holiday without leaving home
Billed as a place to retreat to and relax, Alcove is a pleasant virtual reality environment that lets you meet with friends and family members who may be far away, and also lets you experience such adventures as a hot air balloon ride over the Alps and a tour of Paris from the comfort of your armchair. I think there is a great deal of potential with this kind of virtual reality to help keep families connected and to allow people who are less able to experience things that they otherwise couldn’t. What do you think? Would your loved ones enjoy this experience or find it confusing?
2. Pillo – the robot that keeps you healthy
A product that has been publicised for a couple of years now, Pillo is finally available to the general public. It’s a home assistant that dispenses the right medication at the right time, along with coaching the user about their general health and fitness. It uses facial and voice recognition to keep it secure and make sure medication is only given to the right person, along with video calls to help keep in touch with family and friends.
3. ElliQ – the robot that keeps you company
ElliQ is a small robot assistant that moves and lights up as it talks to you and sits alongside a screen. It’s small enough to place on a kitchen bench or table. It can be used to play music, set reminders, play games, read messages and share photos. It can be pre-ordered from the company website but is currently only available to customers living in the USA. What do you think about having a robot assistant at home? Would the price tag of $1499 (about £1200) make it worthwhile for you over similar services available on an iPad and an Amazon Echo?
4. Lovot – the robot that promises to make you happy!
Whilst a lot of the robots on display aimed to make life easier, Lovot’s only role is to be loved. Made from soft fabric rather than the hard plastic or metal cases usually found on robots, Lovot invites you to hug him in more ways than one. In fact, if you don’t pick him up and give him some attention, he can behave quite sulkily. If you like the idea of a robot companion, but can’t quite justify the $3000 (£2300) price tag that creators GrooveX are asking for Lovot, why not check out the Joy For All Companion Cat, at a much more reasonable price.
5. CarePredict – the watch that keeps you safe and healthy
Smart watches that track our heart rate, how many steps we’ve walked, or our gym workout have become fairly commonplace, but until now I’ve not seen a smart watch that can better help you care for a friend or family member. CarePredict is a system centred around an elegantly designed smart watch that is clever enough to know if the wearer is carrying out their regular daily routine, are they washing themselves, eating properly and moving around the house. It can detect subtle changes in daily routines and signal to a family carer if this might be a sign of a deterioration in health, of an oncoming UTI, or if the wearer is more likely to be at risk of falling.
While all five products could increase quality of life for people with dementia, my favourite is virtual reality platform Alcove. Using a platform like this is a fun way for a whole family to connect and it has a huge range of possible applications. In the next couple of years I think we’ll learn a lot more about the suitability of virtual reality for those living with dementia, and when and how are the best times to use it. Watch this space!