FEATURES - Strategic Solutions Series
January 21, 2015

On Watch: Vodafone Helps to Keep Lively Subscribers Connected

A sense of love and community, a feeling of purpose, and something to look forward to –those are the three keys to happiness, according to Laura Carstensen, the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. That’s why staying close to friends and neighbors and retaining a sense of vitality are so important, especially as we get older .

A new company called Lively – assisted by Vodafone – now helps make all that possible for a growing number of mature adults.

Lively in December began shipping a solution that includes a connected watch, a series of sensors, and a hub that leverages the Vodafone network so friends, family, and caregivers can keep tabs on elderly people who opt to stay in their homes but who may on occasion need assistance. The sensors measure movement and can be placed on doors, drawers, pill boxes, refrigerators, or in any other suitable locations so authorized remote parties can see that the people they care for are following their usual routines in terms of food, drink, exercise, and medication.

Rather than requiring residents to wear a pendant like some systems do, Lively outfits users with a watch that includes an emergency button that can be used to call for help. Iggy Fanlo, Lively co-founder and CEO, says focus group research made clear the watch form factor was preferable to an emergency pendant, as more than 95 percent of those surveyed chose the watch. Elderly people – like the rest of us – have pride and like to maintain their dignity, Fanlo notes, and wearing an unattractive emergency device on a lanyard goes against that.

Offering the emergency button as a feature within the watch not only delivers this functionality in a more attractive form factor, Fanlo says, it also can increase the use of such devices. Fanlo says compliance rates for emergency pendants are less than 20 percent, and sometimes as low as 10 percent.

Using a watch also makes sense, he adds, because it serves a purpose even when the user isn’t employing the emergency button feature – which is seldom used more than once every two to three years. While users press the emergency button feature on Lively watches only on rare occasions, Fanlo adds that demand for such solutions continues to rise as life expectancy grows, the population ages, and more people remain in their homes well into their senior years. According to AARP, the population of people 65 and older will increase 89 percent in the next 20 years, and those 85 years old and older will increase 74 percent in the same time span.

While helping seniors stay independent is the current, and will be an ongoing, focus for Lively, the company’s solutions also can be applied to other use cases. For example, Lively is exploring how its solution could be put to use for neighborhood watch groups in places as far away as South Africa. Fanlo says the Lively system could also be used to enable college students to keep tabs on one another to make sure everyone makes it home safe at night.

Ensuring these solutions work and that the connectivity to support them is affordable, available, and reliable is of key importance. That’s why Lively chose Vodafone’s machine-to-machine technology.

Vodafone has been extremely helpful in providing Lively with integration assistance, with broad coverage, and in assisting Lively with all its requests, says Fanlo.

If problems arise, Vodafone is quick to address and fix them. For example, Lively experienced an outage when it updated its firmware, resulting in a syncing problem on an Amazon server. Although Vodafone wasn’t the source of the problem, it worked with Lively to identify and conquer the issue, he says, fixing it within 12 hours.

“Whenever we have an issue, Vodafone is just incredibly responsive,” he comments.

Lively held discussions with several carriers in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., he adds, and Vodafone stood above the crowd in terms of the manner in which it communicated with the company and the total solution it brought to the table. Fanlo notes that Vodafone has the clout that has enabled it to negotiate contracts with more than 500 carriers around the globe, and the ability to bring all that together in a single contract. That’s important, he says, because the U.S. represents just about 20 percent of the global market that Lively wants to serve.

Vodafone also has a high level of professionalism when it comes to integration, he adds.

“With Vodafone, we got the A team,” Fanlo muses.

“I’m just blown away by Vodafone, I just am,” he adds. “These guys are just different – and in a very positive way.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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