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BLE and RFID System Aims to Bring Security to Seniors

Elpas' LoneProtect tag forwards data to a user's smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy and to a back-end server via RFID, so that seniors can have their movements and any incidents managed by a care facility, or by their own loved ones.
By Claire Swedberg

If an individual falls (either indoors or outdoors), he or she can pull the cord on the pendant, or simultaneously press the two buttons on the sides, and an emergency alert will be forwarded via BLE to that person's phone, which will then forward that data to the software. Facility managers can receive the alert, view the individual's location and identity, and dispatch help. "The alarm comes with GPS coordinates," Fensterheim says, which are displayed in a Google Maps format. In this way, individuals can walk around the garden or neighborhood, or go shopping miles away, and still receive emergency services if necessary.

Most seniors, like their younger friends and family members, tend to carry their smartphones these days, Fensterheim says, and the technology leverages those phones to provide uninterrupted access to emergency services, while not costing as much as a traditional RTLS solution that would require a network of RTLS readers. In addition, he notes, the software can be used to set up geo-fencing. If an individual were not allowed to enter or go beyond a specified area, an alert could be issued in the event that the app and software detected, via GPS, that the individual had done so.

The tag comes with a BLE power amplifier that could enable it to transmit a signal to a Bluetooth device located up to 20 meters away. In that way, it could allow a user to send a request for help any time he or she was within range of a smartphone or tablet within that person's home. What's more, the system could issue an alert if the tag (and, therefore, the individual) were to wander out of the phone's range—meaning that the patient may have left home. In that way, Fensterheim says, "the smartphone or tablet serves as an access point."

"We are very excited about the New Elpas Shield BLE devices," says Terry Mack, Securitec One's EV2 sales manager. "So far, the feedback we have received from our test sites has been very positive." The system provides security for not only the elderly who are wearing the tags, he notes, but also any visiting staff member who could use the tag "to call for emergency assistance if something is wrong, all the while documenting that request."

While health-care and nursing facilities are initially the primary users of this technology, the company also foresees a consumer-based solution for families or individuals to use within their own homes. By purchasing the LoneProtect app and an Elpas Shield Tag, users could have access to emergency services in case they ever required help, as long as they wore the tag and had a phone or tablet within range.

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