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Ever find yourself talking to the TV?

13 January 2015

With this trial technology, you might just find it talks back. Rob, an innovation consultant at BT, wanted to help connect socially-isolated people with friends, family and carers using simple technology. By adding a video conferencing feature to the user's existing TV set, he created an easy-to-use and familiar tool that enhances the lives of people often overlooked by technology. Ingenious. 

Rob led an initial trial using an off the shelf device, working with the local Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), the British Red Cross and Suffolk GPs. He said: "I used my technical expertise and knowledge to support the installations, working with the British Red Cross, and also to provide ongoing support for the trial. BT provided the broadband service and equipment."

Lady using Facelook

Dr John Havard, a GP for Saxmundham Health, said, “Social isolation is a massive public health problem today. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, because we just don’t realize that it has a direct effect on life expectancy and cardio-vascular health.”

As a result of the work Rob has been doing, the tool has helped reduce the impact of social isolation – as well as cost implications on already stretched care services.

Dr Havard added, “The real innovation – and Rob’s contribution – has been in making it easy to use. I know if I give someone an iPad, they’re not interested. But if they’re using their usual TV that rings another device they trust, then we can make it work.”

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