Always looking for opportunities to improve the ways things are done with ingenious and simple solutions.
My most prominent invention is the “I am okay” button. I created it in response to inherent design problems of the “panic button”, “PERS” or “medical alarm”. These are often used by older people, though the usefulness of them is actually very limited.
In 2003 my grandmother Eveline, who was in her eighties, was involved in an accident that resulted in her breaking her arm. Shortly afterwards I suggested she got a panic button to wear around her neck or wrist to summon help in an emergency. Eveline rejected the idea and told me that she wasn’t “old enough to wear one of those things”.
This got me thinking about the usefulness of panic buttons and I discovered that most people who own them don’t have them within easy reach or can’t use them when they’re most needed anyway. It also seemed obvious to me that a panic button is useless when someone is incapacitated or unconscious because the user isn’t able to press it and that is potentially when they are most critically in need of help.
I felt a better approach would be to proactively establish contact with someone once or twice a day to confirm everything is okay. This style of contact could lead to a rescue of someone who was non-responsive and users could potentially benefit from the increase in contact. The contact itself could even evolve into other products and services where an increase in contact could be used to get other valuable outcomes.
Keen to ensure users themselves could control the frequency of contact so the system would be attractive to the widest possible range of people I invented the “I am okay” button in 2004 – with my grandmother as the first customer. The “I am okay” button is now available as OkEachDay® from Alertacall®, which is a company I founded to develop the idea.
OkEachDay® is unique because it gives its users freedom to get on with their day by allowing them to press the OkEachDay® button in their own time. If they do not press it they get human contact at an agreed time, giving them control over their contact levels.
Furthermore, because the user is by the OkEachDay® button when they press it, it provides the perfect opportunity to deliver a recorded message to the device creating a simple and effective way to get relevant news and information to users of the service on a daily basis.
In 2005 Alertacall started work on ContactSense™ a technology that detects changes in the trends of communication with OkEachDay® customers and that can be used to indicate whether there is a shift in the cognitive state or needs of customers and get them help when they need it.
The OkEachDay® button and ContactSense™ now improve safety, security and contact levels for thousands of people and help many progressive housing providers, public bodies and charities improve the lives of those they support.
Although this is my most prominent invention, and the one that I’m most known for, it isn’t my first. I’ve been inventing new ways of doing things all my life. However a lot of those innovations have existed within software and systems, hidden away and invisible from end users.
Interesting facts about the I am okay button / OkEachDay®
- I developed the “I am okay” button and the systems behind it in secrecy for 2 years – only telling my wife and a small selection of close friends.
- I personally made 59,000+ phone calls to customers and visited 1,000 of them in their homes so that I could understand their exact needs.
- When launched, hundreds of people told me “it would not work” and that “the idea would fail”. I ignored them and continued anyway.
- Satisfaction of customers using OkEachDay® is incredibly high with 90%+ of users stating they would recommend the service.