Next generation personal alarm for the elderly, the 'one stop watch'

One Tauranga doctor is on a crusade to help elderly people live with more freedom, and without the hassle of outdated medical bracelets and restrictive alarms.

Q Watch is a self-contained smartphone for the wrist designed with the aging population in mind. It features apps for fall sensoring, Geo-fencing, voice recognition, GPS, video calling, and with more being developed as we speak.

The smart watch was inspired by Richard Walter’s thirty years as an emergency room specialist. He says almost every day he would come across an elderly patient who wore a medical bracelet of some sort, and he could only shake his head.

“These bracelets on their wrists are inaccurate and outdated,” says Walter. “It’s ridiculous. Is this the best we can do? There are so many problems that I see and I think we could fix these problems. I don’t know why we haven’t.”

Walter understands that the older population doesn’t embrace technology as the younger population does, but he sees the potential in technology to help them nevertheless.

“I thought, if they don’t embrace technology, we need technology to embrace them!”

Walter and his team of five began to conduct research, talking with the elderly, and identifying problems with the current technology. They found that medical alarms on the market today only work within the home, cell phones are ignored more often than they are used, and fall sensors, as well as temperature and heartbeat monitors, incur a high number of false alarms and extra work for ambulance paramedics.

“Some of these things are more toys than tools,” he says.

The Q Watch notifies family members when an elderly relative has used the watch to call an ambulance, allowing them to video call their loved one and reassure them until the ambulance arrives.

As well as this, all medical records and demographics are stored on the watch, and can then be sent through to ambulance paramedics and emergency rooms before the ambulance arrives.

“These bracelets on their wrists are inaccurate and outdated,” says Walter. “It’s ridiculous. Is this the best we can do? There are so many problems that I see and I think we could fix these problems. I don’t know why we haven’t.”

Walter believes this efficiency will save lives.

“I have had to make decisions every day that are life and death, even when I don’t have the appropriate medical records,” he says.

“In this day and age how can this be happening?”

“I just thought, this is never going to change. If they’re not going to do it, I will.”

Walter’s innovation has been self-funded up until the point of developing a working model and he is now looking for ways to fund a marketing campaign.

The company is about to launch a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo and is hoping to raise enough money to give away 50 Q Watches as part of the promotion.

Walter says that entering into the Innovation Awards is a chance for Q Watch to get that support and recognition, as well as some positive feedback, and do some good in the process.

“We are trying to create something so that elderly people can age in peace,” says Richard, “so that they can have more freedom.”

Q Watch is just one of many entries in this year’s New Zealand Innovation Awards.

If you have an innovation (at any stage of development), ENTER NOW.

Entries close August 4. www.innovators.org.nz