Voice Panic Detection: The Future of PERS

Voice Panic Detection: The Future of PERS

Josh Locke is Director of Sales at Essence USA. He is a Certified Senior Advisor with over 12 years’ experience in the PERS industry.  He has been in the “start-up” side of PERS for nearly all of those years.  In 2013, he was recruited to launch a new mobile PERS into the industry, which was acquired by Nortek Security and Control. We’ve talked with him about the present and future of the PERS industry, as well as the latest innovations that are shaping the market, such as Intelligent Voice Activation (IVA) technology.


The PERS market is evolving at a very fast pace. What are the technologies that are currently driving growth in the telecare industry?

It is hard to opine purely on the technology advancements being the driver of growth because it is the overall industry demographics, such as an expanding base of aging population, favorable geriatric healthcare policies, a growing consumer awareness, and the adoption of PERS as a supportive tool for independent living that are the primary growth drivers. I will, however, highlight two of them: advancements in communication & connectivity technologies, and technology developments in healthcare wearables.

From the consumers’ perspective technology must make their lives safer, easier, and provide value. It is important to bring innovative solutions that leverage the PERS communication path as well as increase safety for the consumer without compromising dignity and respect. From a service provider perspective it must provide a compelling reason that they would be the provider of choice for their multiple sales channels.


What is Essence’s VPD, what are its advantages, how does it integrate within a more complex smart care system?

VPD stands for Voice Panic Detector.  You simply ask for help using the programmed phrase such as “Call 911” and the VPD will detect this and activate the Care@Home™ control panel on your behalf.  VPD is really the hardware for the solution.  IVA™, Intelligent Voice Activation™, is the magic powering the VPD.  This solution is the answer to the main issues in the PERS industry.  One is the stigma that wearing a pendant still holds today.  The other is the fact that many users for many reasons choose not to wear their pendant.  Like fall detection is a safety net for when you are unable to press your pendant, VPD with IVA™ is also added safety. The issues the VPD solves will certainly position it firmly within more complex smart care systems and allow for a differentiated offering.


How is Essence’s VPD different from any other similar technology in the market?

Service providers rely on vendors like Essence to bring innovation to the industry.  Although voice recognition technology is not new, it is the first of its kind to hit the PERS market.


What would you say that are the main benefits of this new advanced technology comparing to existing PERS systems?

Service Providers often say, “I need to get customers earlier and keep them longer”.  Well, how do you do that?  With every Service Provider essentially selling the same product and service, you simply provide them with a unique and differentiated product and more valuable service.  The VPD and our Family & Pro platforms are unique in that they are very simple to use and provide the constant product and service value need to retain customers.  This is the stickiness that Service Providers are looking for.


How can telecare service providers profit from adopting those new solutions?

PERS is the most modest (lowest cost service), and yet the most powerful (24/7 monitoring), form of telecare. It is evolving rapidly into more advanced telecare functionalities like vital signs and activity monitoring because it is understood that the PERS is also a means of communicating data.  The future is bright for innovative advancements to the traditional PERS platform.  Our Family, Pro, and VPD will fit nicely into the global telecare markets both in a reimbursement and private pay model.  How can telecare service providers profit?  Show value and charge accordingly wherever they can.


What do you think the future of the market looks like, mid-term? Where is the market heading to? What role will Essence play in that future?

Mid-term (meaning the next 3 to 5 years), the market will continue to grow. As the number of tech friendly/knowledgeable older adults on this planet increases, the number of service providers and the amount of funding will also increase (possibly with a very big entrant or two like Google or Apple). The best long-term role we can play as vendors is to establish strategic partnerships with service providers that we know are growing rapidly in today’s market, listen to their needs, decide if it is scalable and/or applicable elsewhere, then answer the need quickly.  We have the right roadmap, talent, and pipeline to have a great long-term role.

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One thought on “Voice Panic Detection: The Future of PERS

  1. If Essence performs up to its hype, I’ll be ready to broadcast endorsements to the market of my peers that has been waiting for a modern, multifaceted, integrated and adaptable medical monitoring system for elders living independently in the community.

    The market is glutted with medical alert companies that are all using exactly the same crappy 1970’s technology– basically nothing more than a poor-quality speaker phone that auto-dials a call center who then dials 911.

    I ordered the Medical Guardian medical alert system for my parents, ages 88 and 91. We tested it in their home and were disappointed that the poor sound/speaker quality made the system absolutely useless. Because Medical Guardian will keep the full down payment (approximately $150) if the system is not returned within a short time period, we quickly shipped the system back.

    The Medical Guardian alert system uses a small speaker box that sits on a table in one room of the house or apartment. In the event that you push your personal emergency call button (worn on a wrist band or necklace pendant), you are supposed to be able to communicate with a call center operator through the speaker box.

    Fat chance. Unless you are standing or have fallen within seven feet of the speaker, the call center operator will not be able to hear you nor will you be able to hear him/her. In our at-home test, the medical alert speaker box was no larger than a home answering machine speaker and was not strong enough or clear enough to broadcast the call center operator’s voice beyond six feet.

    My father, who is hearing impaired, could not understand the operator– even when standing closer to the speaker. During our test of the system, I actually interrupted the call center operator to ask her to please speak more loudly and more slowly. There was no improvement in volume or sound quality.

    My mother did not understand that she was supposed to verbally respond to the robot-sounding voice from the medical alert speaker box. She thought the voice was a political survey solicitation call recorded on the telephone answering machine. We had a good laugh at the time, but in a real emergency– it would be no laughing matter

    My family is eager to learn more about the Essence product line and ready to buy. Stay tuned for my product review!

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