Alcove is an Internet of Things digital care service. The health solution startup combines wearable tech and in-home communication devices, behaviour monitoring, home automation and emergency response systems designed to help older people remain independent in their homes.
Future Platforms was approached by Alcove in 2014 to help the startup build part of the company’s “connected care” health solution.
Alcove’s strategy revolved around a four-pronged IoT care service to help monitor patients. They always wanted to provide elderly or infirm people with wearable tech assistance as well as smartphone and tablet apps and digital tools to help overstretched carers keep checkers on them.
Future Platforms worked alongside Alcove to help them define and develop the wearable tech in healthcare portion of their strategy, or, to put simply: Alcove Wearable.
What we delivered
We initially used Agile delivery methods to focus on the priority features for Alcove, as well as the most important aspects of the tech for carers and patients.
Collaborating with Alcove, and informed by the biggest pain points of their users for wearable tech in healthcare, we determined that the wrist-based application needed to offer three core elements of functionality. Firstly, a panic button that was capable of alerting and contacting patients’ carers in the event of an emergency. Secondly, the app needed to accommodate two-way calls to enable patients to receive pre-approved calls from families and carers. And finally, the app needed to be able to provide reminders that could alert patients of an upcoming visit, check-up, or that medication needs to be taken.
The intuitiveness of the health solution app was another priority, since the target market consisted of an older demographic that might not be technologically literate. Future Platforms, therefore, devised a health solution that was intelligent, simple, and incredibly easy to use. Our development team constructed a fully customised, stripped-back version of the Tizen operating system, limiting the functionality of the wearable tech Samsung devices to the three core features agreed with Alcove.
Thanks to this no-nonsense UI, Alcove’s tailored wearable tech app removed the possibility of patients accidentally activating a feature or navigating to a different part of the operating system by mistake.
Future Platforms maintained a close collaboration with all parties throughout the project lifecycle, especially during the planning phases, to ensure alignment before and during the development cycle.
Working alongside Alcove, we collaborated on their tight design and layout specifications to deliver an effective final product.
Through thoughtful planning, we considered the core needs of the user and what kind of features we thought would be most important to their health and well-being. However, we also went to great lengths to make the device stylish and the user interface that worked alongside it as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
“Yes, the smartwatch does act as a big red button, and it can be pressed for help if it is needed, but it actually tells the time, and it’s got a funky leopard or zebra print strap. A lot of older adults like a bit of fashion; people don’t lose all sense of taste and style as soon as they reach 70!” Alexandra Eavis, Director and Co-Founder Alcove
We had a maintenance and reporting contract in place throughout the project, which included regular reporting on the performance of the apps, all integrations and SDKs. This highlighted potential updates; ensuring they were planned and delivered in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
The maintenance contract included SLAs covering response times and target service restoration. These were covered by service credits, should we not respond or deliver to expectation, and were never enacted.
To ensure well-defined and well-planned work, we use our standard process of: Discover, Define and Deliver. This allows budgets to be planned and approved based on known deliverables.
Future Platforms works on Time & Materials, with regular open reporting on past and forecast burn, to ensure that resources are directed where needed most cost-effectively. Running projects using agile scrum boards ensures developers always have access to tasks. This allowed Alcove to easily view what was planned in each sprint through their daily and weekly involvement in sprint ceremonies.
During a trial with East Thames Group housing association, Alcove reported that out of its total users:
- 92% felt Alcove’s apps and systems were easy to use.
- 84% of carers reported feeling less stressed since using the wearable tech.
- Response times were reduced by 78%
- East Thames Group saved £35,000 p.a in just a single 4-resident scheme.