SARASOTA, Fla. — A group led by former Apple, Microsoft and eBay employees have unveiled Lively – a system of tiny sensors to help far-flung relatives know whether their elderly loved ones take their pills on time or exit the house.
The Institute for the Ages, a Sarasota nonprofit, played a key role in Lively’s creation, connecting the San Francisco-based company with residents such as Bill Tavolga, a 91-year-old self-described tech geek who helped Lively’s developers find bugs in the system.
The outcome was a tool that helps shrink the 350-mile distance between Phyllis Bek-gran, 89, and her son. Bek-gran, whose husband of 68 years died in 2010, has Lively sensors throughout her two-bedroom condo that log when she opens her refrigerator and exits the front door. The data is transmitted to a secure website for her youngest son, Peter, to view from his home in Key West.
“I also had one on my TV remote, because we all know if I didn’t pick that up, there’s something wrong with what’s going on in the world,” Bek-gran recalled with a laugh.
One day, Bek-gran didn’t open her pillbox by 11 a.m. An email alert popped into Peter’s inbox, and a red, frowning face replaced a green smiling one next to Bek-gran’s medication icon. Her phone soon began ringing; it was Peter, with a reminder to take her pills.
With the massive baby boom generation beginning to move into the ranks of the elderly, companies are trying to front-run the trend by figuring out the next hot products for seniors.
For boomers like Bek-gran, who’s been active all her life and still shows her paintings at art exhibitions, maintaining independence is crucial.