A new technology being developed in England is targeting a specific need among the aging population: simple, direct communication without the need for tech savvy.
Speakset, the burgeoning tech being piloted in the UK in homes and health care communities, takes a TV and turns it into a video communication device. With the installation of a small Apple TV-like box, a remote control can make a call with a video component instantly.
“It’s specifically designed for older people to combat isolation and also to reduce health care delivery costs,” says Aditya Kasliwal, Speakset co-founder. “We were shocked by the statistics and wanted to do something about it.”
The technology simply turns a standard TV into a video chat portal with the installation of a small device. The video chat function can then be navigated via remote control. It also has an online interface where users can log in via computer or tablet.
The development team was focused primarily on ease of use, understanding that its target customer my have little to no experience video chatting. But the response throughout pilots in the United Kingdom, where Speakset is based, have showed a strong response and adoption without technology troubles, Kasliwal says.
“Every step of SpeakSet is unbelievably simple,” he says.
The technology has been used so far in care homes in the UK among senior residents, as well in more health-care driven capacities where the technology’s founders see it as an avenue to saving on hospital readmissions and health care costs.
“The big draw for health care is short term and long term,” Kasliwal says. “Short term, it can be used for consultation when there isn’t a medical necessity [to see a patient in person]. Lon term, isolation has such an impact. If you’re combating isolation, you’re reducing the chance of being admitted in the first place.”
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The device runs at a cost of £300 (US$506) and £20 (US$34) monthly subscription for users.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker