Intel-GE Care Innovations, a critique

Care Innovations™ is a unique joint venture that brings together GE’s expertise in healthcare and Intel’s technology expertise 
— to help change the way health care is delivered.

I’ve worked with Intel before in the wireless standards area and have great respect for the company. And I also like their approach to market development, which often starts with ethnographic market research to understand the people who use technology products rather than starting with what’s technically possible. But in this case I question their design choices, because I think they ignored widely accepted standards and mainstream opportunities. Let me explain.

The Care Innovations website says they “spent nearly 12 years living with, talking with, studying, observing, and listening to people at all levels of healthcare and independent living,” and that jives with my past experience. But after reviewing their product specs, it seems their design approach pigeon-holes the products into a niche serving health providers more than those who actually need care.

Care Innovations Guide

Guide is billed as the next generation in telehealth that “strengthens the connection between healthcare professionals and patients and helps make virtual care coordination possible.” But it’s built on the Microsoft Windows 7 platform rather than Android or Apple’s iOS, which both have much larger market share. Guide could also have been developed with open standards like  HTML 5 so the software was platform agnostic and could support all smartphones, tablets, and PCs — i.e. whatever the patient or healthcare provider has, rather than forcing them to buy something new.

From my perspective, I see much larger opportunities with the most widely adopted standards and Universal Design concepts that work for everyone regardless or age & ability. I also see relatively tech savvy boomers as having considerable influence over what devices their aging parents adopt, often even more so than health professionals. Wouldn’t it be less expensive for the user if the Guide was designed as a software application for whatever device they already own and are familiar with? Maybe the design decisions were set in stone before Apple and Google introduced iPad and Android?

Care Innovations Connect

Connect “provides caregivers at independent living communities tools to help proactively check on resident wellness and inform residents about social events and community news.” But, even though I couldn’t confirm that Connect is also built on Windows 7, the screen image suggests that it is, and thus it suffers the same design constraints as Guide. (Watch their YouTube video below.)

Care Innovations QuietCare

QuietCare® is a system that uses wireless motion sensors to  learn the daily activity patterns of residents and send alerts to help caregivers respond to potentially urgent situations.

Care Innovations Link

Link is a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) that’s worn on a wrist strap, neck cord or belt clip to connect you or a loved one to live help with a push of a button. Link, however, uses a proprietary radio technology operating in the 312 MHz frequency band with about 300′ range. I don’t understand that since Intel has been pushing the Z-Wave standard in the 900 MHz frequency band with about 100′ range. The shorter range of Z-Wave can be extended with its wireless mesh topology, but Intel could also have used the ZigBee PRO standard instead. ZigBee PRO is a similar low-power radio technology for very long battery life, but unlike Z-Wave and early versions of ZigBee, or the proprietary radio technology that Link uses, Z-Wave PRO can cover distances up to 1500 meters, which is way more than needed for even a very large home. Going with Zi-Wave PRO, however, would endorse a competing standard. So much for industry politics.


2 thoughts on “Intel-GE Care Innovations, a critique

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