Smartphones

An App a Day Helps Independence Stay

2017-07-13

New and innovative products are designed every day to improve quality of life, especially for the aging. Most of these emerging technologies are smartphone apps. Here are two latest innovations we hope you never need:

Aipoly is a great example of recent breakthroughs in smartphone technology. The app uses the smartphone’s camera to identify what the user is looking at. For anyone struggling with vision loss or decline, it provides greater independence. And it is impressively easy to install and use.


The app is already incredibly capable – point it at a person and it can tell you there’s someone there, what colour their hair is, what they’re wearing, and even whether they appear angry. Aipoly’s algorithim can also identify the relationship between objects. It’s creators explain that it won’t just tell you it sees a person and a bicycle, it will specify whether that person is riding the bicycle.

Another cutting edge app is Eversense by Senseonics, a continuous glucose monitoring system. A 90 day sub-cutaneous sensor and transmitter patch allows diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels directly on their smartphone. The app will inform the direction of glucose levels, how fast the levels are changing, historical trends, and permit the input of manual events like insulin or exercise. High and low glucose settings allow for customized alert levels.

A browser-based data management system enables wireless data upload and storage. The stored personal data can be used to generate a variety of reports to show trends and patterns over time. The entire system is designed for informed diabetes management that can help users take action confidently to meet immediate and long term needs.

There are hundreds of fully designed existing apps to help you, or a loved one, live more independently:

MedMinder is a well-established app that can control a pill dispenser. Users simply input a schedule of the medication with times it should be taken. The app will then dispense the appropriate pill from a pill case and beep or play a pre-recorded voice message to remind the user to take it. The app even tracks which pills have been taken and can advise the user or caregiver(s) if any have been missed. The pill dispenser has its own built-in modem, eliminating the need for internet or a cell phone in the hands of its user.

Voice Reading is a life-changing app for people living with vision or hearing loss. Any text can be selected and shared to the app that will read it aloud. Emails, text messages, web site content, or anything the user is having trouble reading. Users with compromised hearing can adjust volume and add headphones for increased hearing improvement.

For users intimidated by technology, any kid with a smartphone in the family or neighbourhood would easily be able to help identify and install a smartphone app for you to test. Consider doing the same for any of your loved ones who might benefit.

As a society it appears we’ve succeeded at increasing life expectancy. Apps like these can dramatically improve life quality. Whatever your interests, lifestyle, or health concerns, there is likely an existing app or an app in development that can help independence stay.