The Teleassistance @ TIC + application developed by Fundación Magtel is an example of a free, simple, useful and working application. That said, in the following lines we analyze in depth its functionalities, highlighting its points to improve and its strengths.
The application facilitates the communication of emergency situations of dependent people to their caregiver or family member. In turn, the application provides autonomy to perform daily tasks such as showering, or remembering the way home.
Main menu options
In this menu you can configure the trusted contact of the family member or caregiver to whom you want to send the alert messages.
During the tests we have had problems with some terminal models to assign the contacts since the phonebook of each phone model is used. At this point, we would recommend making this functionality independent of the phonebook of each terminal model, allowing the destination number to be entered in the application itself. In case of encountering problems, we recommend saving the contact in the phonebook in the category (mobile) because if the number is stored in other categories it can cause problems.
Main alarm button
The main function of the application is presented in the form of a notification button in the center of the screen that is used to send a predefined text message with the attached location in case of emergency. There is a period of 3 seconds that allows canceling the alarm in case the user detects that he has pressed it by mistake.
The GPS location sent together with each SMS allows the points where an alarm is recorded to be clearly and easily identified by means of a Google maps link.
The inclusion of voice and text confirmation of the actions of alarm message sent or alarm canceled is a very wise option. In this case, it would also be interesting to be able to associate vibration patterns both to confirm that the button has been pressed and to confirm the sending of alert messages.
Notice "I'm fine"
At the same time, there is a green button that allows the caregiver to be informed that everything is fine and at the same time sends the location of the user. This functionality is of interest to communicate various situations such as arrival at home or other locations.
The shower mode is one of the greatest successes of this application. Given that a high number of incidents in elderly and dependent people occurs in the bathroom. The fact of providing an alert mechanism is of great help and provides peace of mind to the user and caregiver. Shower mode allows you to set and activate a timer before showering. If after this period the user has not deactivated the shower mode, an alert message is sent to the caregiver. In the last seconds of the established period, a beep is produced that reminds the user of its deactivation in case of forgetting to avoid generating false alarms.
The guidance functionality links by pressing a menu button to a Google maps route that leads to the address previously set in the configuration section. This functionality is very useful in case the user gets confused or gets lost.
Other configurable options
In addition to the functionalities of the main menu, there are other functionalities that can be activated from the configuration menu.
The possibility of being able to generate a security area is a very useful feature and allows you to easily delimit a variable area around a specific point on the map to activate an alarm in the event that the person leaves this delimited space. This function is deactivated by default and it is necessary to activate it in the configuration menu.
There is also a very useful functionality in which you can determine a battery level from which you want to notify the caregiver by SMS. This function allows that when the battery level is reduced, the caregiver can notify the user to charge the mobile terminal. This functionality is deactivated by default and it is necessary to activate it in the configuration menu.
This functionality allows activating the hands-free mode so that the person can communicate at a relative distance in case of receiving a call and not having the terminal in their hand for any reason. This functionality is deactivated by default and it is necessary to activate it in the configuration menu.
Fall detection does not work reliably every time, but we have managed to detect some impacts. This does not surprise us as the level of reliability of all fall detection applications is usually low and largely depends on the quality of the accelerometer or gyro of the used phone. This function is deactivated by default and it is necessary to activate it in the configuration menu.
Call to main contact
This functionality simplifies the direct call to the contact of interest previously configured in the contacts section by pressing the call icon from the main menu.
Message sending system
The alarm communication system via SMS is highly reliable as long as mobile coverage is available, not having failed in any of the cases tested during our analysis. The only drawback is the cost associated with these messages, although most operators currently do not charge abusively for the use of text messages, standing at an average of € 0,12 / message or they are even included in the rates. drawings of the different contracts. However, we know that the developers are working on a new version that sends messages via 3G and 4G avoiding the cost associated with sending SMS.
Design, organization and access methods
The design of the application is simple and practical, identifying all the important functionalities with a representative image or pictogram.
It is very suitable that some functionalities are read with voice such as modes or message sent automatically. In any case, the labeling in the buttons of the main menu for screen reader is missing. Also, it would be nice to include pulsation confirmation by vibration.
Another fundamental thing to implement would be to facilitate that the application can always run in the foreground on the phone so that the user does not have to worry about looking for the application in an emergency if it has gone to the background for any reason .
In summary, we can say that the application is a great ally for the elderly or dependents, even those vulnerable people such as women victims of gender violence or children who can make use of the alarm functions in dangerous situations. Its functionalities are very well organized and identified and the reliability of sending alarms is high.
Next, we detail the points of note and improvement.
- The usefulness of all its functionalities, no surplus and no lack
- Its simple implementation
- Reliability in all your alarms and communication
- Its free, with the only cost of the SMS sent.
- The need to use SMS supposes a cost to the user, although on the other hand it supposes a reliable communication system.
- Some accessibility qualifications such as the lack of vibration to confirm keystrokes and alarms, and the lack of labeling for screen readers of the functionalities of the main menu buttons
- It would be important to be able to easily configure it as a foreground application so that it runs when the phone is turned on and the button is always present.
- Some contact menu configuration problems with certain Smartphone models.