High-tech sensors help kids monitor parents
by Associated Press
The couple's 53-year-old son, Phil, checks it daily on his smartphone. If there's no activity during a designated time, the younger Dworsky gets an automated email so he can decide whether to call or stop by. "This is peace of mind, really," he says of the system he installed last year.
The Silicon Valley tech executive lives just across town, but the sensors help him keep an eye on his aging parents while also raising a teenage daughter and traveling for work. While his parents don't need a lot of assistance, they have stopped driving and his father uses a cane. "I want to be in the position where I will know when I need to step in," he says.
Advances in low-cost sensors and wireless networks are fueling a boom in the so-called "smart" home. And companies are looking beyond home security and temperature control to creating products for baby boomers trying to balance caring for aging parents and respecting their independence.
These systems often use simple, inexpensive components such as accelerometers that know when an object is moved. Others use small power sensors to track electricity use or contact circuits that tell when a door is open or closed. Companies like Lively, Evermind and BeClose charge $50 to $300 for a set of sensors and $30 to $70 a month for wireless monitoring. A set of motion sensors from San Francisco-based Lively seemed right for the Dworskys, whose son calls them "fiercely independent."
Dorothy doesn't think much about the system. "It's un-intrusive. That's what we like about it," she said. "We want to be able to stay in our home, and this is one way that makes it possible."