Fujitsu Smart Cane Helps Seniors Stay Mobile, Safe

Fujitsu this week showed off a prototype of a smart cane aimed at helping the senior citizen community stay mobile.

The New Generation Cane, unveiled at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, serves as an accessible way for the elderly, and their loved ones, to track location, heart rate, and temperature. It even send email alerts if it thinks the user has fallen down.

According to the BBC, the device comes with technologies like GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, as well as an LED display the handle. Users can plan a route in advance using a compatible desktop program that send directions to the cane, which then displays arrows and vibrates to warn the carrier when to turn.

It also sends data to a host computer, streaming the information to a relative or caretaker, and automatically contacting emergency services if it detects an irregular heartbeat.

The Japanese company is first and foremost catering to its own citizens’ needs, the BBC said. If Fujitsu can help mobilize seniors, perhaps it can also extend people’s ability to continue working into their later years.

Though built with a specific aim toward the elderly, Fujitsu hopes the cane will appeal to people with disabilities, or hikers. According to Engadget, which tested the device at MWC, the current prototype can last two to three hours on a charge, though a longer battery life will likely be needed as features are added.

Just a concept for now, there are no details about a planned release date for the Next Generation Cane.

Two years ago, Fujitsu awarded its 2011 Design Award to “The Aid,” an ICT-enabled cane. The contest asked individuals to design a lifestyle gadget for the year 2020, and designer Egle Ugintaite from Lithuania came up with “a cane that provides mobile navigation and health management services.” Ugintaite’s design shows the user with their hand and wrist inside the top of the cane, whereas the New Generation Cane shown off at MWC has the the user gripping the top like a more traditional cane.

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