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Swansea University innovation experts are helping to refine a high-tech device which is already making a vital difference to people living with dementia and their carers.
Staff the Healthcare Technology Centre (HTC) have teamed up with Swansea-based CPR Global Technology to work on its Guardian II smart watch. Worn on the wrist, it contains a range of technologies including GPS and WIFI location tracker, SOS button, two-way calling, and a heart rate monitor.
The device, aimed at helping users to remain in the familiar surroundings for as long as possible, has already proved popular with families.
Now CPR and HTC are working together to explore the functions and technology integrated into the device with a view to highlighting areas where it could be used to enhance dementia care even further.
The HTC is based in laboratory space at the University’s Singleton Campus and its team of dedicated staff work with businesses and the NHS to develop innovative healthcare products and services to create lasting economic value in Wales.
With an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, the National Dementia Strategy is urging innovators to develop technologies that can implemented to help families care for and support their loved ones.
HTC’s collaboration with CPR has seen staff exploring potential opportunities to drive forward research, development and the innovation potential of the device as well as its socio-economic benefits. This has included analysing reviews of the device from customers.
One grateful son whose father now wore one said: “My elderly dad can’t use a mobile phone but was chuffed he could take and make calls from the watch, especially when the grandchildren said it was a ‘spy watch’. The GPS is great for tracking him down if he wanders off.”
HTC’s Dr Daniel Rees described the collaboration as an exciting opportunity to work with a vibrant, diverse and innovative company.
He said: “We can see some great potential for the use of technologies such as this smartwatch to support the care of dementia patients, their families and carers.
“The collaboration has also allowed us to explore the use of existing technologies in novel ways - this includes the hardware, software and the required robust technology platforms and infrastructure.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with a focus on delivering social and economic benefits through utilisation of innovative digital technology.”
Chelsea Davies, sales and marketing manager at CPR Technology, added: “With technology being the new model of care, we've been providing practical solutions to everyday problems for more than 10 years, empowering people to lead independent and fulfilled lives.
"It’s been so exciting to work with Accelerate Healthcare Technology Centre on our latest project combining industry knowledge with academia and has really been a great insight to what people both want and need with the research behind it. This experience has been invaluable for CPR Global Tech we look forward to continuing our collaborations with HTC.”
HTC is part of the Accelerate programme, a partnership led by the Life Sciences Hub with Swansea University, Cardiff University and University Trinity St David which brings together clinical, academic and industry expertise to develop and roll out new, innovative products and services within the Welsh health and care system.
Accelerate is co-funded with £24 million by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.