From old people's button to popular gadget

From old people's button to popular gadget

Calling in help anyplace with 5G

Living independently in your own home as long as possible, that's the standard for senior citizens nowadays. But it does make you feel safer if you can call in medical help quickly in case of an emergency. Walking with an alarm device round your neck in plain sight, however, is not what a sprightly elderly person wants. An app on the smartphone is often a bridge too far. The start-up Montr from The Hague has the solution: an emergency knob the size of a button, enabled by 5G technology. No-one notices it, but you can call in help wherever you are.

Montr conducts a pilot as part of 5Groningen, the testing ground for the latest generation of mobile internet: 5G. 5Groningen is an initiative of Economic Board Groningen. Here, entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations work with experts like VodafoneZiggo to develop use cases with 5G.

Emergency button on the go
Stefan Meulesteen started Montr in 2015 and has by now several employees working for him, developing software as well as hardware. "Montr makes apps for neighbourhood outreach teams, for example, and inspectorates. These people work outside the office most of the time and can use our apps to work completely digitally. They conduct e.g. so-called kitchen-table conversations to decide which kind of care is needed. These employees often work on their own and can unexpectedly end up in awkward situations. This is why we came up with the idea to develop an emergency button for them. They can call in help if needed when they’re en route. It didn’t take long, however, before we were asked if we could make such an emergency button for elderly people as well, to help them live safely in their own home longer."

Invisible button
"The first version of the emergency button used Bluetooth and an app. But we quickly found out that smartphones make elderly people somewhat nervous. They quite often possess one, but aren’t really keen on using it. That obstacle can be removed if we use the Narrowband IoT technology of 5G. Then you don’t need a smartphone anymore. Another obstacle is the device itself. Who wants to be seen with such an old people’s thing round his neck? The 5G technology fits into a reasonably sized button. You don’t notice it but you can use it wherever you want. With 5G you have national coverage. The 5G from VodafoneZiggo even provides coverage in many parts of Europe."

Developing ease of use
"Starting in April and together with the Tinten Welzijnsgroep, we will provide fifty senior citizens in north Groningen with an emergency button enabled by 5G technology. They will help us improve the device itself, the hardware and its functional application. How do you connect the digital emergency button with your own social network? What are the requirements for the device, how can the design help to make it easy to use and functional? In this pilot with the Tinten Welzijnsgroep we will primarily test how the button can be used to support life in the outlying areas. The Welzijnsgroep will map what the social network of these people looks like. Since 5G tells you exactly where someone is, the control room can alert someone who is nearby. The neighbour instead of the daughter who lives in Amsterdam. Another advantage of 5G is its energy efficiency. The button is always on, but the battery easily lasts a year without having to be charged."

Together with VodafoneZiggo
VodafoneZiggo provides the 5G services for the pilot. Cantor van Pelt, account manager of VodafoneZiggo at 5Groningen: "Montr uses managed Narrowband-IoT connectivity. That's a international communication standard, aimed at different Internet of Things services, in which the signal is so strong taht it can reach through big walls. This connection also uses less energy, so the batteries last longer. This product is suitable for all kinds of purposes, but in this case it’s a great tool to help elderly people stay in their own home longer and safer."

Read more about 5Groningen

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