Kanega is like a “wearable OnStar for seniors”


UnaliWear’s latest watch offers discreet support for falls, medication reminders, and a guard against wandering.


Most of you who’ve lived through the late ‘80s and ‘90s can distinctly recollect those Life Alert commercials with Mrs. Fletcher yelling, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” Lo and behold, the catchphrase would go on to become a pop culture phenomenon throughout the United States. Since then, there have been numerous attempts to develop solutions geared towards providing the elderly real-time support in the event of an emergency, especially when they’re unable to reach a phone. And, as we enter the era of constant connectivity, it’s no wonder more brands are turning to ARM-based wearable technology to help bring senior citizens online.

watch_on_rock

Inspired by her own 80-year-old mother who refuses to wear some of today’s bulky emergency alert products, UnaliWear CEO Jean Anne Booth decided to take matters into her own hands. Not only are a number of gadgets available today socially stigmatizing and downright ugly, they’re also limited to use in homes unless tethered to a mobile device — something many seniors do not have in their possession.

Dubbed a “Wearable OnStar for seniors,” Kanega is a stylish watch that provides discrete support for falls, medication reminders and a safeguard against wandering, as well as uses an easy-to-use speech interface rather than buttons. The Bluetooth-enabled wearable — which recently made its Kickstarter debut — is connected to a cellular network, meaning that it isn’t reliant upon Wi-Fi or having to be synced to a smartphone much like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear.

UnaliWear_Images_r4_c2

Better yet, UnaliWear’s latest product can be worn 24/7 thanks to its waterproof casing. This allows for the band to be used in the shower or bath, where a majority of falls occur. Its well-lit display and other built-in features can even assist with issues that may arise at night, such as trips to bathroom or the kitchen for a snack.

Aesthetically it appears no different than a traditional watch, thereby eliminating the ignominy often associated with “needing” assistance. Instead, it first requests permission to speak by buzzing on a wearer’s wrist — something that will surely come in handy when in public. The device can even communicate over Bluetooth to newer generation hearing aids, as well as serve as a communications gateway for home telemedicine devices.

Shall an emergency arise, voice-activated assistance will connect you directly to a monitor who will confirm assistance should be dispatched to a location. If a user happens to activate help and doesn’t respond immediately, UnaliWear will call an emergency contact first or dispatch local medical assistance, depending on the preferences set.

CAzRYYhUsAAls3n.jpg-large

At its core, the gadget is based on an Atmel | SMART SAM4L Cortex-M4 MCU and a ATWINC1500 module. While it may appear to be another smartwatch, it’s so much more. Aside from its “work anywhere” support, Kanega packs 200% more battery life, continuous speech recognition, patent-pending quick-swap batteries, GPS for proper tracking, and a 9-axis accelerometer. Detected falls trigger a watch-based query, which significantly reduces false alerts, and eliminate the need to be near a base station or smartphone.

What’s more, data is collected and sent to Verizon’s HIPAA-compliant cloud, which offers an analysis of the wearer’s lifestyle. Artificial intelligence learns the wearer’s lifestyle to determine likelihood of wandering, and updates the information on the watch — including activity and medication reminders — every night while asleep. This also helps a wearer obtain directions home or get help if they happen to stray from home.

Interested in a Kanega for a loved one in your life? Hurry over to its official Kickstarter page, where UnaliWear is currently seeking $100,000. Delivery for early backers is expected to begin in February 2016, while shipments to all other consumers slated for Summer 2016.

UPDATE: UnaliWear has completed a successful crowdfunding campaign, having raised $110,154 from 306 backers.

1 thought on “Kanega is like a “wearable OnStar for seniors”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s