Living independently, for as long as possible, is a priority for most elderly citizens. But the major concern of many is the worry of falling or being incapacitated and unable to call for help. Unreported falls often result in pain, emotional distress, or serious secondary medical problems such as dehydration, hypothermia or pneumonia.
Philips Lifeline AutoAlert
The Philips Lifeline AutoAlert Help Button is a small unobtrusive pendant that provides a direct connection to help in case of an emergency. It complements the Lifeline service by solving the main unmet concern of elderly users – what happens if I fall and I can’t press my button to call for help? The AutoAlert button is a pendant worn 24 hours a day. AutoAlert contains a series of sensors with an advanced algorithm that is designed to detect as many falls as possible without undue false alarms.
A series of user research sessions and concept iterations gave detailed insights into the frustrations and challenges that elderly users faced with their current help buttons. “Our research showed us that many users do not wear their help buttons all the time,” said Stephen Heath, Creative Director at Philips Design. “They are conscious of feeling stigmatized by the device and viewed it as a visible symbol of their frailty. The challenge was to incorporate new technology and performance features to enable auto fall detection without compromising acceptance,” he says. “It was important that their specific needs were translated into a final solution that met the physical, functional and emotional preferences of this very specific demographic of users.”
The unobtrusive pendant is robust and fully water proof so it can be worn 24 hours a day, even while bathing. The design of the integrated rubber help button minimizes the chance of accidental pressing, yet also allows for easy blind activation through clothing. A soft nylon silver neck cord is comfortable against skin and designed to be easy for seniors with limited movement and dexterity to adjust to the required length.
“I’m the bridge between serving the business and working with the other competency leads, to make sure we deliver the project,” he says. Program Director, Fabien Guillorit realized the value of Philips Lifeline early in its development. During the test phase, a patient fell and the team couldn’t make contact with her. They called the emergency services who managed to revive her. “That’s when we all realized it wasn’t just an engineering project, we were saving people’s lives,” he says.
Rather than changing batteries or having to deal with recharging, customers are provided with a complete new product, that is mailed to their door as soon as a low battery signal is detected. This concept led to a complete change in business model, installing a new sustainable logistics system that enables refurbishment and exchange of used products and ensures a positive experience and ongoing service for the subscriber.
Released at the beginning of this year, the AutoAlert has proven to be a huge success with 50% of new customers choosing to pay an additional premium for this new product. The Lifeline service receives more than 100 AutoAlert calls every week, which means users have fallen and were not capable of pressing the help button themselves.
Awarded an iF Design Award for Product Design, this small, subtle addition to seniors’ way of life is helping to save lives in an emergency.
*AutoAlert does not detect 100% of falls. If able, users should always push their button when they need help.