Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.
357-03-30-18 – Show notes:
Careband – Adam Sobol – Founder & CEO | carebandremembers.com
Robotic Tortoise Helps Kids to Learn That Robot Abuse Is a Bad Thing http://bit.ly/2GdeJlc
AT Ethics Surveyhttp://bit.ly/2G6warD
Apple Proposes New Accessibility Emojis http://bit.ly/2IQaIoq
App: TapTapSee | www.BridgingApps.org
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ADAM SOBOL: Hi, this is Adam Sobel, and I’m the CEO and founder of Care Band, and this is your assistive technology update.
WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 357 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on March 30, 2018.
Today I’m going to spend some time during our interview with Adam Sobel, who was the founder and CEO of Care Band. They are an organization that are working in technology to help people who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or who wander to get more information ‘it their caregivers about where they are.
We have a fascinating story about a robotic tortoise that is helping kids to learn not to abuse robots. An opportunity for ATP practitioners to take a survey about ethics. A story about some new proposed accessibility emoji And our friends at BridgingApps tell us about an app called Tap Tap See.
We hope you’ll check out our website at EasterSealsTech.com. Send us a note on Twitter@INDATA Project. Or call our listener line at 317-721-7124. And while you are at it, jump at the iTunes or wherever you get your podcast and give us some stars or a review. When people talk about our podcast, it helps others find the show and learn more about assistive technology. Help us out, give us a review or some stars.
I didn’t know that beating up on robots was a problem, but apparently it is. I’m reading a story in the IEEE spectrum about a robotic tortoise that helps kids learn that robot abuse is a bad thing. There is some research reported in the store that talks about the fact that kids like to beat up on robots. Apparently they are curious or frustrated or whatever. They like to hit robots because they don’t hit back. Some robots, I guess, worn you and say please don’t hit me. Shelley is a tortoise that tucks its ahead and arms in to let kids know that they shouldn’t abuse her. What they learned in the study that, with this robot, they stopped abusing her if the kids had to wait to play with the robot again. If it didn’t hide, it didn’t have an impact. If it only hit for a little bit like seven seconds, the kids actually abuse the robot more because they thought that was a reward for abusing the robot. But if they made the robot hide four more like 28 seconds or so, the kids got bored and left and didn’t abuse the robot. The researchers think that this means they can apply this kind of technology to other robots as well so that kids won’t abuse them. If they do, they’ll just get bored because the robot will hide in a shell or similar behavior. I hadn’t thought about it. It’s an interesting concept and I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to the blog and you can learn about Shelley the robot tortoise that hides if you abuse her. Check our show notes.
From a story in the verge, we are directed over to “Emoji-pedia” — who knew there was such a thing as “Emoji-pedia”? Apparently Apple has proposed some new accessibility Emoji. They are submitting to the Unicode Consortium a new set of accessibility Emoji. I’m looking at them on the screen. They are actually pretty cool. One is a guided dog with a harness. There are a couple of people with white canes, one male, one female person. There is a close-up of an ear with a hearing aid. There are a couple of folks who are doing some sign language, given the sign for deaf. There is a person in a mechanized wheelchair and also people in manual wheelchair. There is even mechanical and prosthetic arms and legs. And a service dog with a vest and a leash which is reminiscent of someone using a service dog for things like seizures, not the traditional guided dog associated with people who are blind or visually impaired. Of course, I love to see this being considered for the Emoji lexicon, and if you want to see a picture of these, I’m going to pop a link right over to Emojipedia.org’s blog post about this and you can check out these new accessibility Emoji that have been proposed by Apple. Check our show notes.
Are you an ATP? That means an assistive technology professional? There is a group of researchers at the University of Iowa headed up by Doctor Noel Estrada Hernandez. What they are trying to do is identify awareness preparedness and training needs related to ethical situations in the provision of assistive technology services. It’s an online survey, about 20 questions, takes about 15 to 20 minutes. They insist that they won’t collect your name, identifying information, and there is no follow-up activity required. If you are an ATP and are interested in participating, I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to this survey from the University of Iowa. Help out the researchers, let them know how you feel about ethics and whether or not you have preparedness or training needs.
Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.
AMY BARRY: This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. This week’s featured app is called Tap Tap See. Tap Tap See is designed to help the blind and visually impaired to identify objects they encounter in their daily lives. Simply double tap the screen to take a photo of anything at an angle and hear the apps began edification back to you. Of note, spoken identification requires voiceover to be turned on. We found Tap Tap See to be quite a remarkable app for someone who was blind or visually impaired.
To benefit from using the app, you need to understand the power of the accessibility features built into your mobile device. First, you need to go to accessibility and turn on voiceover on your iPhone or iPad. You can slow down the rate the voice speaks to adjust to different users. Next, go to your app, Tap Tap See, and if you are on the device, you can enlarge it two times or use it on your iPhone. After you take a picture, voiceover will tell you exactly what you are looking at. It’s an amazing experience once you master the voiceover tool.
We used it with one of our students who is considered legally blind. We took off her glasses, and with some hand over hand assistance, she took a picture using her iPad of her iPhone. The app clearly stated Apple iPhone. We were both surprised at its immediate response and clarity. We love that Tap Tap See helps the blind and visually impaired become more independent in their day to day activities. Tap Tap See is available for free at the iTunes and Google play store. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit BridgingApps.org.
WADE WINGLER: I’m in Indiana, born and raised here in Indiana, and I absolutely love it when I’m looking at Indiana business news and see one of our own, or something happening in Indiana. You can imagine how excited I was when I saw that from Bloomington Indiana, home of Indiana University, which isn’t too far from me, there is a new technology coming out called Care Band. It’s been developed by a recent IU graduate named Adam Sobel who is the founder and CEO. It’s all about helping people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are going to learn a ton about Care Band today. The first, Adam, welcome to the show.
ADAM SOBOL: Thanks so much, Wade. Happy to be here.
WADE WINGLER: We are excited to have you here. It’s always nice to meet somebody who was Indiana ties. That’s fun. Before we start talking about Care Band and some of the technical things we are going to get into today, tell me a little bit about yourself and your story. How did you become interested in technology for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
ADAM SOBOL: I come from a family of doctors. Everybody about family is a doctor except for me. I’m that we are technology guy out of the mix. The black sheep of the family. About three and a half years or so, Apple created iBeacon technology. I thought this technology was the coolest thing in the entire world. Only the nurse like me figured out that this technology existed and all this stuff. I thought there is a lot of potential with what the technology was. I was talking to my dad, and he is a geriatrician. He manages about 10,000 seniors in Ohio. He said if you can help seniors living with dementia who wander, you can help a lot of people. I had started to other software companies in college, so I knew how to build a website and apps pretty easily, but hardware was a new game for me. I took this idea out and talk to as many people as I could around this idea of dementia wandering. Almost everybody I talked to could relate to it, either going to lunch with their grandma and them going to the bathroom, and when they come back their grandma not being there. Or waking up in the middle of the night, and their spouse not being there. Over and over again the story kept point out. I looked into the market, and everything was GPS and RFID technology, and it was big, beige, and ugly, very institutional looking. There’s got to be a better technology out there, and I could do better than this, so I started working on it.
WADE WINGLER: Were you still in school when you started working on this, or had you completed?
ADAM SOBOL: I was still in school. I was a junior at Indiana University and was working on a part-time. Now I’m doing it full time.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. That makes a lot of sense. I have personal family experience that resonates when you tell me that story. I get it. What’s Care Band? Tell me about it.
ADAM SOBOL: Care Band is wearable technology for seniors with dementia. Right now there are about 5.3 million seniors in the US living with dementia, and over 60 percent of them have a tendency to wander and get lost. Our technology does three main things. It provides real-time indoor and outdoor location tracking without the use of Wi-Fi or cellular technology up to about three miles around someone so more facility. The second thing is there is a button on the top that they can use to call for help or call a nurse. The third thing is that it is modular. As someone ages, their disease changes and progresses in different ways, so you can take the button off and put a picture frame to show their family members or favorite sports team or something exciting to that person.
The other side of it is we are tracking data on their location an activity to look for early changes in condition. For example, this population gets urinary tract infection often. By simply understanding how many times somebody is going to the bathroom, we can see if there is an increase or decrease and alert a care provider before they get a fever and have to go to the hospital.
WADE WINGLER: That’s an excellent overview. Now I’ve got 1 million questions I want to do a deeper dive on. The first question is obvious. How do you know they are going to the bathroom?
ADAM SOBOL: That’s a good question. We don’t know exactly that they are going to the bathroom, but we know based on our infrastructure, we know exactly that they are in the bathroom for an extended period of time.
WADE WINGLER: So you can do some time in location and make educated guesses about what’s going on?
ADAM SOBOL: Yes.
WADE WINGLER: Days ago. How does it work? Let’s talk about some of the technical details. What does the wearer of the device have, and what does it look like? How does it connect to — what is it, an app? Talk to me about it.
ADAM SOBOL: There are three main features. There is the wearable that we built that people wear on their wrist. Then we have because that are put up in the environment. Every room has a device that we program to say I am the bathroom, and it sends a signal out that says I’m the bathroom. That’s the impression side. We also put a router in the facility or home that puts out our network. Then we have a mobile app and web application for caregivers.
WADE WINGLER: Let’s talk about the band. It’s rubberized? Does it look like a Fitbit or smart watch?
ADAM SOBOL: To the seniors that we were testing on right now, they all think it is an Apple watch, which is the greatest thing in the world. But it’s very light, very thin, about the width of an Apple watch, very comfortable and stylish.
WADE WINGLER: Battery life? Does it need to charge every night? How does that work?
ADAM SOBOL: It’s a three-day battery with a 30 minute fast charge using a wireless charging mechanism. You just put it on a pad and it charges in 30 minutes and you have another three days.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. In terms of the band, is there a user interface in addition to the call button? What is the user interface like for the wearer?
ADAM SOBOL: The technology is abstracted from the user. There is a lot of technology built into the device itself, but to the outside perspective, all you see is that it is a button. There is not much of a user interface, I guess you could say.
WADE WINGLER: Then from the caregiver experience standpoint, what is that like?
ADAM SOBOL: Caregivers receive a mobile app as well as a web app. They can sign up for email updates as well as text updates if they want as well. Basically for the facility level, you can see a map of where everybody is 24/7. So if you are doing medication management, for example, and it is 5 o’clock, and Sally isn’t in her room, you can look at the map and see exactly where she is and go give her her medications. That’s what aspect of it. The other aspect is a nurse calls. You can press the button and see the alerts and know exactly where they are. The third aspect is looking at the data and the early change in condition and reporting mechanisms and reports on the mobile and web interfaces.
WADE WINGLER: You said you are collecting a lot of data. What does that look like? Are there built-in reports for common things? Can you customize it? What can a caregiver or healthcare provider or family member learned by looking at the data on the web portal or app?
ADAM SOBOL: The device is really a data-gathering device. We collect all the data on location an activity and behavior, and from there it is pretty flexible in terms of what you can do with it. We have sample reports that can be made based on our machine learning models that we have in terms of early change in condition and urinary tract infections and pneumonia. There is also a data portal that can be accessed to look at the information as a whole and figure out trends on your own.
WADE WINGLER: Are we running on Apple as the platform behind it? Is it platform-dependent?
ADAM SOBOL: Not platform dependent. It is agnostic there. It can be on anything in terms of the software applications.
WADE WINGLER: You said that it works indoors and outdoors. You said there is something going on with the communication protocol. Tell me about that.
ADAM SOBOL: Our infrastructure is really unique, and if it’s exactly into this market. If you look at people’s homes, seniors living at home or even nursing homes or assisted living facilities, a large majority of them still do not have reliable Wi-Fi infrastructure. So when thinking about building a type of wearable solution that doesn’t have a reliable Wi-Fi infrastructure, and people don’t have their phones with them all the time, we had to come up with a different technology that work indoors and outdoors. What we’re using today is called a low-power wide area network technology.
Basically this idea came about five years ago for the 50 billion Internet of things connected devices to send small amounts of data over long distances. For example, if you bought a smart trashcan and put your trash can outside of your home, you are not going to use your Wi-Fi network that’s inside because you are outside, and you’re not going to pay $20 per month for cellular for your smart trashcan that send one message a week saying whether it is full. This new protocol and technology can about to send up to 10 bytes of information over miles, 5 to 10 miles. This technology is what we’re using and it has been super effective for this population.
WADE WINGLER: You consistent a three-day battery life with that?
ADAM SOBOL: The exciting part of the technology is that it is known for its long-range as well as low-power. Typically devices using this protocol can last months and then years on this, sending small amounts of data, so it’s really advantageous for this application.
WADE WINGLER: So when it is not sending, it just the power use way down?
ADAM SOBOL: Exactly.
WADE WINGLER: Okay. I’m thinking about it, I have a grandmother who passed now but she had Alzheimer’s. They lived on a 12 to 15 acre farm with a lake and stuff like that. She was happy and safe but wandered around all the time. This would’ve been a good option for her, right? You could tell where she was on the farm and keep track of that?
ADAM SOBOL: Yes. The benefit of the technology is it works very well inside and it works very well outside. We are using a combination of technologies, patented as well, that does both the indoor location as well as switching to GPS outdoors.
WADE WINGLER: My grandmother would’ve taken the thing off, probably put it in the lake. How do we handle the situation with the wearers of the Care Band?
ADAM SOBOL: It’s a very common problem. A lot of people don’t like to have anything on them in general, and it’s hard to get into that habit. The other thing with Care Band, we are not going to solve it for everyone, but if we can hit 70 percent of the population and get it to work, then we are going to say those lives. In terms of the medication that we’ve developed and put into Care Band, one is that we have a sensor on the bottom of the wristband that knows if someone is wearing it or not. If you get it for your mom and she’s wearing it for the first 24 hours while you are around and sticks it in the drawer for the next three weeks until you get back, you’re going to know that it is not on her wrist. That’s number one. Number two is we engineered a lock that requires two hands to take on and off. It’s very hard for someone with dementia to take it off on their own basically.
WADE WINGLER: As a sit here and look at my Apple watch on my wrist, it does the same thing in terms of monitoring whether it is on, right? It’s getting my heart rate but also knows if I take it off so I have to put my security pin back into get it to go again.
ADAM SOBOL: Same concept.
WADE WINGLER: We are talking about the band and the begins and the router as well as the app and web interface. Are there other options and features that are available now or that you’re looking at in the future?
ADAM SOBOL: Depending on the environment of the facility or whatever technology they have, our system is all based in the cloud. It’s all stored on AWS with all the services they have. We have the ability to interface with a lot of other technologies and tools. Amazon Alexa is one option out there as well as other wearable is that people may have. If you have an Apple watch, you can download our app for your Apple watch and see notifications there instead of having your phone. Once data gets to the cloud, there are a lot of integrations a possibility that there.
WADE WINGLER: As I’m thinking about Care Band and the use case I’m familiar with, who is the customer? Is the customer the patient or the person with dementia? Is it a residential facility? Is it a school? Who is your target customer?
ADAM SOBOL: Our target customer right now is the assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In these facilities, there are upwards of 200 people living in one space. Keeping them safe in knowing where they are all the time is crucial for the business and for the safety. There we are really selling to the administrators and owners of the facilities. The secondary stakeholder is the family member and the individual. That’s where that site is. On the at home space, looking at the family caregiver or the care provider through a home care agency or something like that.
WADE WINGLER: You probably get this question a lot. We are talking about dementia and elderly geriatric patients. Is there any application for kids who also wander?
ADAM SOBOL: We hear that more and more actually for autism, the runner aspect as well as mental health and alcohol rehab or drug rehab. The exciting part about what we built is there are all these other applications where the location of somebody is crucial for their safety and health. We see a lot of other vertical applications where this technology can be applied and are excited to explore those over the next few years.
WADE WINGLER: That make sense to me. Practical question. Cost and availability?
ADAM SOBOL: Great question. Right now our timeline, we are doing pilot testing for the next few months in a few different environments: assisted living, nursing home, and if you people at home. Over the summer, we are going to take that feedback, iterate on the product one more time, and then go to manufacturing for our first low volume manufacturing. Our plan right now is by the end of the summer, we will have units ready and available. Again focusing on the assisted living market initially and moving out towards the residents at home.
WADE WINGLER: When I’m in Bloomington five years from now and bump into you at a great restaurant or something, and I say I hear that Care Band is incredibly successful. What has the last five years looked like? What does a successful future look like for you and this product?
ADAM SOBOL: The goal from the beginning, and it still remains, is to keep as many people safe as we can. Right now there is not a lot of attention being put on to assistive technology specifically for people with dementia. Their families need a solution today or yesterday, so if we could get the price point down as far as we can to be able to provide this service and technology to as many people as possible, that would be the goal.
The secondary goal is taking the data that we are going to have the dementia population and sharing it with institutions to look for new drugs and therapies to reduce the chance of getting dementia or develop new medications. Ideally, helping the entire world of dementia would be ideal.
WADE WINGLER: As you were talking about that, another question popped into my mind. Talk to me about the privacy aspect of this.
ADAM SOBOL: It’s a good question and it comes up a good amount as well. At the facility side, even anywhere, the safety of a human life is really important. When you’re thinking about having something or not having something, and the safety and behavior that is being shared, the privacy kind of goes out the window to enable their safety and health. The nice part from our side is we have a secure environment where we host all the data and keep it HIPPA compliant. We don’t share it unless there is in the contract negotiation that that’s what understood on both sides.
WADE WINGLER: I’m sure the somebody is listening in and wanting to learn more and want to reach out to you to find out about what’s happening and in the future with Care Band. How do you recommend people reach out to you to stay in touch with your story and learn more?
ADAM SOBOL: We’d love to you for people who have shared similar experiences with dementia or wandering. It’s really about helping those people and building a solution that works best for those individuals. In terms of reaching out and helping and getting involved, if you go to CareBandRemembers.com, that’s the best way. We are also active on Facebook and twitter. Or you can just email me at Adam@careband.co.
WADE WINGLER: Adam Sobel is the founder and CEO of Care Band, also somebody who we are proud of here in Indiana. Thank you so much for being on the show today.
ADAM SOBOL: Thank you so much.
WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to www.EasterSealstech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find other shows like this, plus much more, at AccessibilityChannel.com. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easter Seals Crossroads, or any of our supporting partners. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.
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