Wearable Tech World Feature Article
March 13, 2015

UnaliWear Kanega Smartwatch: Functional, Yet Attractive, and Potentially Lifesaving

“I've fallen, and I can't get up!” This is a phrase that resonates with seniors across all walks of life. Popularized by the LifeCall system, the line was used in connection with a line of wearable devices that could be used to summon help in an emergency back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's a phrase that represents one of the worst things that can happen to a senior citizen, but also underscores one critical point: seniors don't like to be reminded of susceptibility to such situations, and that's where wearable tech like the Kanega from UnaliWear can help.

UnaliWear's Kanega smartwatch is designed to bypass the hesitance of senior citizens to wear a device that ultimately reminds seniors of the likelihood of a slip-and-fall accident that leaves them on the floor and incapacitated. It doesn't use buttons, but rather a voice-activated interface that summons help without having to press buttons. It connects to both Wi-Fi and cellular bands, making it usable almost anywhere in the United States, and contains all of its functions right in the watch itself, meaning there's no need to tether it to a smartphone or tablet.

Image via UnaliWear 

The device is also waterproof, though to what depth isn't specifically stated, and can even learn some of a user's basic routines and patterns. With this knowledge, the device can actually guide a user home in the event that he or she gets lost with a series of turn-by-turn directions displayed on the watch itself, and voice cues as well. It can connect to a pharmacy's computers to update medical information without typing, and provide reminders to the wearer about when certain medications should be taken. It even performs what's called “continuous welfare check,” such that if the wearer suffers an accident that leaves him or her unable to speak, the device automatically summons help.

The device is currently on Kickstarter, and with 11 days to go, has cleared its $100,000 funding goal by fully $2,249 at the time of this writing. Thus a retail launch is expected sometime in 2016, selling at $299 with optional services ranging from $35 a month to $85 a month. Those interested in seeing the device firsthand will be able to do so at SXSW.

It's a safe bet that no one wants to be reminded of infirmity. Those with orthodontic troubles don't want to wear headgear seemingly better suited to intercepting radio transmissions, just as those with bladder issues don't want to walk around in diapers. Senior citizens are no different on this front, wanting the protection that wearable tech can offer, but without the obvious display of infirmity. It's not only embarrassing; it can also be dangerous. Why advertise infirmity to potential passing thieves? A device like the UnaliWear Kanega smartwatch looks like a normal smartwatch, but offers services of particular use to the elderly. It's hard not to see the value in such a system, particular for those with elderly relatives, or those who are elderly outright.

Will this revolutionize elder care? In a lot of ways, it might do just that. Only time will tell just how well it works, but having to whimper “I've fallen, and I can't get up!” on the floor may well be a thing of the past.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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