Connect with older people via SMS on their TV (UK)

i-Spy Digital is a specialist company in the ‘digital media space’, that is, linking mobile telecoms with point of sale (POS) terminals and digital signage, etc. According to their website they “pride ourselves on our innovative and first-to-market leading initiatives.” and that may be an accurate description of the Care Messenger system they will be demonstrating at the TSA conference next week. In brief, the system connects people to the internet via a TV set top box and allows them to receive (amongst other services) SMS text messages. What could telecare services do with that? Download their flyer (PDF) to find out.

4 thoughts on “Connect with older people via SMS on their TV (UK)

  1. This type of service has been available for years but has been superseded by other media.

    It will work excellently for those people who never turn their TVs off and are always in watching it – but according to the flyer this service is aimed at maintaining a person’s independence. The people wanting to maintain their independence are not sat watching their TVs all day.

    Critical reminders are also a dodgy one to leave to the TV to remind you as you may not have the TV on.

    We experimented with this type of communication (as part of a wider service through an STB) back in 2006. It was greatly received at the time but even then we realised a dedicated piece of kit providing something that could be embedded in other technology very easily was not going to catch on. And we were right. And who or which organisation would pay £20 per month for it. ‘for an investment of less that £20 per tenant per month, save up to £200!’ – I think it has been a rush to press and the flyer/service offer needs a lot of rewording and a decent proof read.

    Have a look at myhomehelper for the kind of service that may be something much closer to addressing the areas of concern that i-Spy Digital are aiming for.

  2. Mike is right that “texting to TV” forms of messaging have been around a long time. Indeed, the original Responsive Home at the University of York (which opened in 2004 before being relocated in the new Computer Science building in 2010) used this form of alert, along with picture attachments, as a demonstration of how grandchildren would soon be using their new smart phones to communicate with their relatives. People pointed out the need for the TV to be switched on and watched 24/7 but it wasn’t difficult to see how this problem could be overcome with digital and smart TVs or by using other ubiquitous forms of computing including tablet devices and linked alerts within a genuinely smart house.
    Although the i-Spy digital approach looks rather like an afterthought on the back of other service offerings, perhaps it’s important to consider the need for more connected telecare solutions that aren’t all about alarms. Mike has mentioned MyHomeHelp, but also consider and

    There are a number of US examples too – including Kinergy Health, and Caring Share, all of which allow family members to use the Internet to share anything from photographs through to reminders and alerts.

    Our telecare model based on alarms has worked well for a decade and has enabled the UK to develop an efficient and successful industry supported by some excellent processes and protocols. But this model is already changing as the search for improved outcomes demands the use of a second generation of technology to assess needs, to predict problems and, ultimately, to prevent the decline into dependency. The systems that support this model are web-based, and must therefore be the fore-runners of more interactive systems that can keep people in touch with their families through video and messaging technologies. This third generation of telecare needs broadband and an embracing of digital healthcare to support the rich content that is required.

    So I urge the designers out there to be bold and to take some giant leaps forward to maintain the UK’s first mover advantage in telecare.

  3. As Kevin says, there are a lot of interesting examples out there that we need to explore.

    Particular difficulties for innovators are finding funding and getting access to commissioners.

    There are some great opportunities to build on, complement and challenge our thinking around digital technologies in health, housing and social care.

    Of particular interest is the weekly Disruptive Social Care Podcast – Shirley Ayres and Stuart Arnott from Mindings. Richard Humphries from The King’s Fund will be featuring shortly (



    Mike Clark (@clarkmike)

  4. Mike / Kevin,

    Watch this space 🙂

    Sandwell should soon have a big announcement about its delivery of ‘virtual visiting systems’ that will be utilised by LA / Hospital Trust and voluntary services as well as GP surgeries in our patch.


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