How Grandma Got Her Groove Back - Fujitsu's GPS Cane
The generational gap is often biggest when it comes to emerging technology. Most companies struggle to attract an older market for slick new products that feature new technology like GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Fujitsu, one of Japan's leading innovative technology companies, has come up with a simple solution. Instead of marketing youthful products to the elderly, why not create elderly products featuring cutting-edge technology? The Fujitsu GPS Cane, revealed at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, is a futuristic walking stick that will help older generations step forward into the 21st century.
Fujitsu's GPS Cane boasts a handle packed with new technology like GPS, Bluetooth, a heart monitor, and a cellular linkup to let others know where you are. Losing your independence is one of the worst parts of getting on in years, but the GPS system in the cane gives users the freedom to safely wander, while also giving their loved ones much-needed peace of mind.
Destinations can be programmed into the cane, so the LED light screen at the top of the handle can guide users with large colored arrows and vibrations to remind them when a turn is coming up, or when they are headed in the wrong direction. The cane can be tracked remotely by computer, and can send alerts to friends and families in case the user has fallen down while walking, or has strayed from their desired course.
Health and Safety
Fujitsu's GPS cane also records data like the outside temperature and the distance walked, along with the skin temperature and heart rate of the user. If the temperature is getting too hot, or the user's heart rate is climbing, the route can be changed by a caregiver to guide the user to shade or some other nearby place to cool down. The large screen on the handle can also show the user their current heart rate in addition to the directional arrows which keep them moving safely on their desired path. The screen also displays when WiFi access is available, as well as the battery life remaining.
Although the product is certainly geared toward a senior generation, plenty of young and active people are forced to use canes for various reasons. The GPS cane saves the trouble of whipping out a map or a smart phone when one hand is already occupied holding a walking stick. The data gathered throughout the course of a walk can also be stored and shared later with doctors and care professionals, or used as a daily log of activity during a period of rehabilitation.
The GPS cane is still in the prototype stage, with no definite date of release, but medical care is one of the largest and most profitable markets for new products, so it is safe to assume that Fujitsu's GPS cane will see the shelves within a year or two. The population, in America at least, is top-heavy and not getting any younger, so directing useful technology in that direction is a smart business move, and for anyone who needs a cane, this is the kind of liberating technology that will provide both independence and safety. Granted, it isn't a cane with a sword hidden inside, but that's a very different approach to "safety features", no?
So what do you think? Would your grandparents want a futuristic cane that looks like a 3-wood so they could navigate their neighborhoods with ease? Or is this yet another technology that most senior citizens will grumpily wave off and ignore?
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See more of my favorite, wild ideas at Outside the Box Innovations.