Seniors Housing Business

AUG-SEP 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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Page 55 of 80 55 August-September 2018 n Seniors Housing Business In evaluations at various health- care organizations, pre- and post- activity questionnaires given to users have shown an increase in a caregiver's confidence levels, positive behavior, and feeling of empowerment once they've used the modules. Sold on a subscription basis of $4 to $7 per month per user plus hardware costs, Embodied recently won first place in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's XR Education Prize Challenge. The purpose of the competition "is to accelerate the most promising companies innovating at the inter- section of post-secondary educa- tion and virtual, augmented or mixed reality (collectively known as XR)," according to a website dedicated to the contest. "The $250,000 cash prize will accelerate our venture capital raise in 2019," says Shaw. Both Embodied and MyndVR are examples of using virtual real- ity in a way to better communi- cate with the elderly. A number of other companies are looking to use technology to increase social engagement between the elderly and with their loved ones. Urloop (pronounced "your loop") has developed software for "active," tech-savvy, affluent, older adults to engage with like-minded groups, learn about events, and access curated content. Accessible via a tablet or smart- phone app, the user base acts as a co-developer, offering Urloop sug- gestions as to features. While the app is free to use, a special fee-based version for seniors housing communities also offers the ability to include cus- tomized service requests, such as changing a lightbulb in a senior's residence, which will then auto- matically be routed to the appro- priate caretaker. While all users of the free ver- sion see the same content, the com- munity version — which is sold to an organization for about $500 per month regardless of the number of users — can also offer unique con- tent uploaded by staff and avail- able only to its residents. Virtual assistants on the way Popularized by Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Home, voice control is increas- ingly being used as an easy way to foster social engagement. While the elderly often forget how to use technologies with which they were once familiar, such as television remote controls and iPads, voice commands remain intuitive for all but those suffering from dementia and other debilitating illnesses. Lifepod describes itself as a "voice-controlled virtual assistant, personalized by the user or care- giver," according to CEO Stuart Patterson. Utilizing Amazon Alexa technology, the software product comes with five pre-programmed routines that can be customized by the caregiver. Routines include check-ins, games, news and pre- scription reminders. Unlike a standard Alexa device, which requires the user to begin the interaction by saying "Alexa," Lifepod can proactively start speaking. The software can initiate a dia- logue with the user at a prescribed time. For example, the software can ask, "How did you sleep?" Based on the answer such as "well" or "bad," it can then be programmed to automatically alert a caregiver. A birthday noted in an online calendar can trigger the question, "It's your son's birthday today, would you like to call him?" And, if the answer is "yes," the software automatically initiates the call through the Alexa device. Embodied Labs' virtual reality headset allows caregivers to experience what the world is like for someone suffering from Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases.

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