March 3, 2013
New Fujitsu Technology Focuses On The Elderly
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
There is one simple truth as it relates to technology and innovation. The older one gets, the faster they are left behind. If you have ever had to explain a tablet, a cellphone or a DVR to an older loved one, you know how true this fact can be.
When Fujitsu had a prototype device stashed on an all-white wall of their booth at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona last week, people took notice. Their attention was offered because of whom the device was intended to benefit. It seems the elder set is receiving some much needed assistance from the tech industry in the form of a GPS, 3G and WiFi enabled walking stick.
Fujitsu, a Japanese corporation, looked at the demographics of their home country to come up with the design for their new prototype product. In Japan, more than 20 percent of the population is aged 65 or over. This represents the highest proportion of senior citizens of any country on Earth and proves the adage that "necessity is the mother of all invention."
The technology-laden cane looks more like something one might find in their golf bag than a traditional cane. The aforementioned suite of technology, including WiFi and GPS is packed into a non-traditional looking cane and allows the cane to not only direct its user but also to transmit vital information to the computer with which it is synced.
Additional features of the cane include the ability to monitor vital signs like the user´s heart rate and body temperature. If there are any fluctuations outside of the norm for either of these values, the cane can communicate with the elders loved ones via e-mail notifying them of potentially problematic situations. If the situation is too far outside the norm, the cane can even call for help, summoning emergency services to the user´s location.
While the cane displayed last week was only a prototype, there was no functionality allowing for the request for directions from one point to the other, like a typical GPS unit. Instead, the user or the user´s loved ones can program specific routes for the cane to follow.
The bulbous head of the cane contains an LED display that utilizes lights and vibration to notify the user of the correct path to take. If one diverges from the pre-set path, the cane will vibrate in the hand and a large green arrow will appear on the display indicating the correct direction to proceed.
Additionally, a caregiver, monitoring the cane´s activity from a host computer, can ascertain the location of the cane at any time. This feature will make it easier to find your loved one if they wander off. Other important information, like the user´s heart rate, is measured with a thumb pad contained in the handle of the cane. The feature rich functionality combined with an amazingly easy interface makes this product perfect for the generation that technology left behind.
And if one elder-centric device weren´t enough, Fujitsu also flexed some geriatric market muscle when they unveiled their new smartphone designed for, as they put it, the ℠mature customer.´ This new phone, which they call the Stylistic, runs on a modified version of Google´s already easy to use Android operating system.
According to Fujitsu, the phone was designed for a user that is not familiar with mobile technology. One specific feature even allows the phone to alter the frequency of the phone´s audio to make calls easier for the elderly to hear.
Unlike the Next Generation Cane, the Stylistic has a launch date set for June of this year. The initial market will focus on Europe, with sales beginning first in France. If Fujitsu experiences the sales numbers they expect, a wider release of the Stylistic will no doubt occur in a short amount of time.
Whether you are shopping for grandma and grandpa, or you have parents who are themselves advancing in age, you can now rest assured the technological age hasn´t progressed without offering them some sort of consideration. As our baby boomer generation enters their elder years, you can be certain products like the Next Generation Cane and the Stylistic will have been pioneers in the field of elder-focused technologies.