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The Phone as an Embedded Device

March 6, 2013

I’m poking around for interesting stuff this morning, and this one counts as interesting in a couple ways.  From the Register:

O2 has launched the first of its mobile-based telecare services in the UK. Most of the services currently provided by pendant alarms are attached to landlines and their reach extends to the user’s garden. But research shows that people feel trapped in their homes by alarms which connect to a landline, and as a consequence exercise less and become unwell sooner, so the

The device used in O2’s “Help at Hand” service is the GPS-enabled Pearl+ made by Oysta technology, although O2 doesn’t reveal this in its marketing material. It has a support button, four quick call buttons and a fall alarm. Falling or pressing the blue button puts the device into speakerphone mode and connects the user to a call centre.

At this point, it’s a, “help, I’ve fallen,” type of application.  There’s no push for medical advice down the wire, mostly just a remote check to see whether the person is okay.  It’s a great way for the cell phone companies to grab an additional revenue stream, one that probably continues to grow over the years.  I like it, since it’s another example of the phone as a single device for all your needs, and it potentially replaces another focused device in the process.

Here’s a fun secret: bandwidth is neither free nor infinite.  I’m starting to see the early warning signs of whole countries starting to wonder how the spectrum is going to support all the users and devices that want to access it.  I could even see the really population-dense areas with authoritarian governments saying that you can only have one device that gets access to your personal spectrum allocation at a time.  That seems to indicate a need for a more fully-powered device that has access to an array of low-BW sensors to do the job for whatever human need.  Like Lynn was saying yesterday, I’m not looking all that forward to the day our robot overlords have to be chatted up just to get us connected to our doctor across the globe, but I’m looking at it as a way to change the dynamic of nine devices per user.

I could go into the healthcare implications of having a doctor that never actually sees you, just your readings on a screen, but that’s another post.  Suffice to say, if you thought your personal connection to the doctor was pretty vague these days, then check out the coming party.

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