Assistive Technology : PANION M-GUARD PRO

Wearable technology like Apple watch is gaining popularity. Apple watch comes in many variants and has functionality which can be lifesaving such as ECG monitoring system, blood oxygen levels monitoring system, emergency SOS etc.  For the assistive technology blog post, I focused on the wearable technology which can be worn by the elderly individuals.  I focused on a product that is called PANION M-GUARD PRO. The PANION website describes their product as a “wristband” that has 4 main features: emergency call button, fall sensor, GPS location function, and 2-way communication.

The PANION company states that the product is made for seniors or elderly individuals. Their website states that the company and the developers wanted to design a product which would be intuitive and easy to use. In the case of emergencies, the user of the wearable technology like PANION M-GUARD PRO will be able to communicate with their relatives from a click of a SOS button. As per the about section of the PANION website, it mentions that the wearable technology can store contact information of 10 individuals. PANION states that the technology is developed for the seniors , this directly correlates with the disability statistics discussed in our digital accessibility class. A 2016 report from CDC (Centers of Disease control and prevention ) statistics states that 2 out of 5 adults age 65 years and older have a disability and that disabilities are more common amongst individuals who are 65 age and older.

The wearable technology by PANION does reflect notions of social model because it gives individuals freedom to take part in activities while having the technology which has the ability to assist in case of emergencies. The wearable technology also serves as a functional solution model because of the technological aspect of the product. The thought process behind the wearable technology is innovative and hence it is closely related to the functional solution model. The function solution model can be associated with the wearable technology because it resolves situations when an elderly individual would be in the need and them getting the help they need. The wearable technology from PANION has a personalization aspect as it can be worn on a wrist with the help of wrist strap or can be worn on a belt with belt clip. While reading through the slides about functional solution model, I could not help but think about the usage of the wearable technology in the time of emergencies or falls. The CDC article states that “each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people fall each year.” In the worst-case scenario if the individual does not have cellphone or could not reach their telephone, they will then be able to use the wearable tech like M-GUARD PRO  to contact their loved ones and in doing so the product “eliminate the limitation though … technology” which is one of the core principals in the function solution model. For the Fall sensor, the technology is able to detect fall only 90 % of the time as per the testing done by the PANION company. I checked the reviews section of the product, 76 percent of reviewers gave M-GUARD PRO a 5-star rating, 23 percent gave a 4-star rating, 14 percent gave a 3-star rating, and 4 percent gave 2-star rating.

 The utility of the product seems appropriate given the user’s testimonies on the news section of the webpage. From the testimonies, I found out that unlike other similar products in the market, M-GUARD PRO is a chargeable device and there is less hassle to change the small batteries, which can be complicated.  Given the simple design, defined functions and less buttons, the product seems user friendly and effective for the purpose it has been created for. The technology also has the sound/ acoustic notification when the device is plugged in for charging and it announces, “Your device is being charged!”, a feature which could be beneficial for individuals with low vison. The product design could have been sleeker. The design looks a little bulky compared to the design of Apple watch. The wearable technology from PANION has a medical design with plastic parts. One of the downsides of the product is the price, it is 200 euros but similar products like MGUARD PRO exist and cost around 30 to 50 dollars on Amazon. Some of the similar products have a monthly fee depending on the functionality one chooses. This product can be compared with product that solely acts on the medical emergency need and SOS command, there are products which allows the users to click the SOS button and by doing the command an ambulance would be sent to the user’s destination regardless of weather it is necessary or not. The designers of the M Guard Pro programmed the product thoroughly for instance if the emergency call goes to an answering machine, a message will be sent to the contact person, also that all 10 stored contact numbers will be called one after the other ” until the carrier actively cancels the emergency call or a called contact person cancels the emergency call by pressing button 1 on the phone” (PANION website FAQ).