The zeroed in on the gadget's elder appeal -- a simplified computing experience, large font on the screen that's easy to read, dedicated video chats with the grandkids...was the first of a new wave of dedicated touchscreen gadgets for the home that we call smart displays. When it launched, Amazon's pitch
Now French startup Domalys is building on that idea at CES 2019 with a new smart display that's designed specifically for seniors living on their own. In addition to offering an simple means of keeping in touch with loved ones, the device aims to make it easy for seniors to call for help in the event of an emergency by pressing a big red physical button that runs along the top edge of the 7-inch screen.
Domalys already manufacturersthat use built-in motion sensors to light the way for seniors, and to detect if they fall. Those made their debut at CES 2018 -- in the year since, Domalys claims that it's managed to partner with some of the largest telecare and home care services in France, along with nine out of the 10 largest nursing home groups. The company thinks it has some traction, and says that an international expansion is already in the works, with the first Aladin installations in the US already planned for next January.
The new smart display gives the Domalys pitch an additional dimension. It's designed to double as a router for those Aladin lights, single-handedly keeping them connected to the cloud without need for any networking know-how on grandma's part.
The elder family member and their loved ones will need to download the company's Ensemble app to use its messaging capabilities. They'll then have to pair with the device by entering its ID number. Domalys says that the ID number is the first thing seniors see when they turn the thing on to help minimize any confusion.
Once they're connected, loved ones can send messages or pictures straight to the user's display, or video chat with them from their phone. You can also use the screen to video chat with caregivers or medical professionals.
There's no word on US pricing just yet, and it doesn't sound like Domalys has any plans at this point to integrate the display with any third party platforms or products. I think that makes sense -- the whole point of the device is to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible. I do wonder if it would be worth teaming up with a partner like Amazon or Google to bring voice controls into the mix for the simple sake of accessibility.
No word yet on whether or not voice controls like those are under consideration, but Domalys does say that it's working on a fall-detecting GPS watch that seniors can wear and keep paired with the smart display and the Aladin lights. That would extend the system's focus on fall detection to the outdoors.
At any rate, tech that's designed to help keep seniors safe and comfortable, and to help them live independently for longer seems like a worthy way to put the connected home to work -- provided the devices in question work well enough to be relied on. So far it sounds like Domalys is living up to that standard, and that makes Domalys a name worth keeping an eye on in the coming years.
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