The Center for Digital Innovation (CDI) Negev unveiled Israel's first Innovation Lab for Healthy Aging to simulate the living environment of senior citizens last week. The lab is a collaboration between CDI Negev, BGU, the National Insurance Institute of Israel, Beer-Sheva Municipality, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Amal & Beyond Group.
The lab will take on the increasingly complex challenges of today's elderly population. According to World Bank data, the percentage of the world's population over 65 has nearly doubled in the last 50 years. From 5% in 1960, seniors represented 8.5% of the global population in 2015.
“In ten years, Beer-Sheva will become the center of senior citizen-focused research and innovation," CDI founder & CEO Ziv Ofek said.
“When I think about this lab, I think about my parents and the real challenges they face. Instead of looking for merely technological solutions, we went back to analyze the problem. We developed a 360 degree approach that looks at all aspects of a senior's life. When we founded CDI, we chose the fields of healthcare, social welfare, education and smart cities to specialize in. Well, in this lab, we are combining all of them," he explained.
Ofek and his team realized that senior citizens' diverse needs, ambitions and activities cannot be considered separately. Rather, they are all intertwined and only an innovative approach, which takes all of these elements into consideration, has a chance of making a real and significant change in the lives of senior citizens.
“This is not another innovation lab just offering technological solutions. Connecting teenagers to seniors alleviates their loneliness and depression. That's not a hi-tech solution, but it has to be part of the approach," Ofek enthused.
The facilities provided by the lab encourage a holistic view, by examining the entire range of services provided for senior citizens by local and state institutions. Ofek announced at the event that the Innovation Lab for Healthy Aging was already entering into partnernship with Sheba Medical Center to become a testing ground for their approaches and technologies.
Several challenges have already been identified:
- Preventing falls
- Alleviating loneliness
- Slowing the deterioration of those whose capabilities are already limited
- Pain treatment
New technologies to assist in basic domestic activities like bathing and using the toilet.
The lab simulates all aspects of senior citizens` living environment and routines. The living lab features a fully furnished home, which includes a bedroom, a living room and a kitchen. In and around the home, new technologies and models will be implemented and put to the test, such as new methods of connecting with their relatives, improved medical treatment, encouraging the elderly to engage in social activities in their community or interact with teenagers in order to alleviate loneliness.
Among the startups and innovative projects already operating in the lab:
Uniper Care Technologies – A TV platform designed to improve the communication process between the elderly and their families.
BetterCare - An application that provides caregivers at nursing homes and centers precise information and a means of monitoring the quality of the care they provide.
Vitalerter - A wireless platform that monitors heart rates and respiratory systems. The system provides alerts when identifying potential falls, infections, depressions, anxieties and general deterioration in the patients` state.
Healthy.io - A home urine testing kit, providing test results within minutes, which are then broadcast to the patient's physician using a smartphone camera.
Story - A digital timeline platform designed to let senior citizens tell their life story and share it with their loved ones.