Toshiba rolls out activity trackers for seniors

The Silmee W20 and W21 wristbands have functions such as conversation monitoring to assist caregivers

The Toshiba W20 smart band can help monitor the daily lives of seniors including meals, conversation and exposure to ultraviolet light.

The Toshiba W20 smart band can help monitor the daily lives of seniors including meals, conversation and exposure to ultraviolet light.

Toshiba is rolling out two activity trackers that can help caregivers monitor seniors remotely.

Through an analysis of sensor data, the Silmee W20 and W21 wristbands can help track the amount of time a user spends eating as well as conversing with others. The bands can compile the data into life logs to be shared with caregivers.

The sensors on the bands include a skin temperature sensor, a pulse monitor and an ultraviolet light sensor, as well as an accelerometer. An emergency button on the bands can alert caregivers or loved ones.

The bands also have Bluetooth connectivity for linking with iOS and Android mobile devices, and lithium-ion batteries that can last about two weeks on a charge. The W21 also features a GPS module for location tracking.

The Silmee wristbands are a follow-up to the Silmee sleep tracker, shown at CES earlier this year, which has sensors for functions such as an ECG (electrocardiogram), and skin temperature, pulse rate and motion detection.

The wristbands will be used in a three-year research project on dementia that Toshiba is undertaking in conjunction with Oita University. Involving about 1,000 subjects, the research will examine possible links between daily activities, as measured by the wristbands, and cognitive decline.

With its low birthrate, Japan's shrinking population is rapidly aging. Over 30 percent of Japanese will be 65 or older in 10 years, and the number of workers who can care for the elderly is falling. The trend has prompted a number of IT projects to help elderly Japanese, including seniors' homes that are experimenting with cloud-connected air conditioners and motion sensors.

The W20 and W21 bands are available starting this month and in September through online shopping sites in Japan, priced at ¥24,000 (US$192) and ¥28,000, respectively.

Toshiba has been reeling from one of the biggest corporate accounting scandals to hit Japan in recent years. Executives at the company resigned last month after a committee reviewing its earnings said the company padded its operating profit by about ¥156 billion ($1.25 billion) over six years to the end of 2014.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

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