As a part of Digital Leaders Week, I was invited by Wigan Council to attend a tour of Ancliffe Bungalow — an empty residential care unit equipped with a series of specialised and commercially available tech to enable disabled and elderly people to live more independent lives.
The bungalow, on the surface, appears to be a pretty normal assisted-living bungalow — you see the usual handrails and emergency call devices that you’d expect to find in a nursing home, sheltered accommodation or the home of someone that requires assistance for independent living. But dig deeper and you will find a host of assistive technologies that demonstrate a new phase in assisted living. Room by room, our guide pointed out discreet devices — from Amazon Alexa opening the blinds and turning off the lights, to nightlights in the toilet, to glasses that act as eyes for those with a severe visual impairment. Every device has its own story; the People Powered Innovation team From Wigan Council can trace back the use of each technology to a distinct problem that has been faced by a client of theirs. They know this technology can help other people as they are already testing, iterating and implementing on the ground, and seeing the results.
One piece of tech the team has found to be particularly effective is the smart plug by 3rings. This technology runs off a series of rules dictated by the caregiver to notify them to a deviation from their loved one’s usual routine. These deviations are detected through the activity of the smart plug: