Pitched as an alternative to retirement homes and emergency pendants, TruSense uses smart home gear to help senior citizens live independently for longer. Complete with motion sensing, temperature monitoring, leak detection and even voice controls, TruSense is a DIY kit of connected products sold alongside a monitoring service and an app that helps you track the habits of your aging parents so you'll know if something unusual occurs.
A startup based in Cincinnati, TruSense doesn't actually use any of its own hardware. The motion sensors and hub come from SmartThings; TruSense uses an Amazon Echo Dot for voice control. The $200 starter kit contains the following pieces:
You can purchase more devices if you need to, and the TruSense platform also offers a leak detector, a flush sensor and GPS trackers -- either a pendant, a vehicle tracker, or a GPS SmartSole which embeds a tracker in a shoe sole.
Between these pieces, the TruSense app will track what room your parents are in, and chart their activity over time so you can see patterns and be notified if something changes. The door/window sensors can be put on the fridge or cabinet to help you keep track of their eating habits. A motion sensor in the bedroom will try to interpret when they go to sleep and let you know if they're not getting up in the morning.
To make use of TruSense's app, you'll need to pay a $50-per-month subscription fee, but that price includes a monitoring service. You can customize what notifications you'll receive, and also what notifications will alert the monitoring service. Your parents can also use the Amazon Echo Dot -- a smart speaker you can control with your voice -- to call the monitoring service for help.
The $200 price for the starting kit isn't bad. A similar SmartThings monitoring kit costs $250. The $50 a month cost is more than comparable monitoring plans from Lowe's Iris and SimpliSafe, but roughly on par with professional services like ADT and AT&T Digital Life. To be worth it in the long run, then, the app will need to offer accurate data and useful insights. You don't have to pay a monthly fee to use SmartThings gear or an Amazon Echo Dot on its own.
Starting Tuesday, you can buy a TruSense package on the company's site. For now, TruSense is only available in the US. I like the idea of bringing together disparate smart home pieces for the express purpose of helping you care for your aging parents. Check out the video above for a look at another startup with similar aims.
For TruSense, using a motion tracker to monitor sleep habits or a door/window sensor to track eating might not always produce accurate results. You could open a cabinet and not get any food, but the system will still think you've eaten. Nevertheless, if the app and monitoring service work well, TruSense could help spot something out of the ordinary and provide some peace of mind in the meantime.