Tuesday, 02 April 2013

World Autism Day highlights role of machine-to-machine technology in bringing greater freedom to autism carers and sufferers

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Johannesburg, April 2, 2013 – Today is World Autism Day. Global attention on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has highlighted too the great advances in machine-to-machine technology in enhancing the lifestyles of ASD sufferers and their carers.  An estimated 30-million people worldwide suffer from autism or Alzheimer’s disease with more than 60-million caregivers responsible for their safety and wellbeing.  Over 270 000 South Africans have ASD, half of whom are children. 

Frequent loss of bearings and the huge responsibility facing caregivers of autistic people to keep track of their charges at all times, prompted CEO of Global Positioning System (GPS) Tony Fama, who is also a father of a son with ASD, to develop a wristwatch solution which provides 24/7 global cellular communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking.

Called the TRiLOC GPS Personal Locator, the device was developed, after two years of research and many discussions with care giving associations and parents of children with ASD.

“TRiLOC gives my son greater autonomy and reduces the need of constant supervision. With the tethering accessory, families or caregivers can plan trips to museums, shopping centers, and even busy theme parks without the enormous stress of the individual wandering off”, Fama said.

The TRiLOC device helps caregivers locate and safeguard people with special needs while minimising the need for constant physical supervision.

The wristwatch encompasses machine-to-machine technology from world leader in digital security Gemalto to power a GPS Personal Locator Device (PLD), which is used to track and locate those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Gemalto’s solution transmits an individual’s precise location to their caretaker’s cell phone or computer while enabling hands-free two-way voice calling when needed. A remote listening feature allows caretakers to detect when immediate help is required, and the wearer has access to an SOS button in case of emergencies.

An optional accessory worn by caregivers enables proximity detection and electronic tethering sending immediate text messages and audio alarms if an individual strays too far. In addition, an alert can be sent when the device’s lockable strap is tampered with.

“It is really rewarding to see our technology truly changing the lives of people with special needs, in this case those who are prone to getting lost,” said Mark Warren, Southern Africa manager, Machine-to-Machine division at Gemalto. “As a result of our miniaturization efforts we have produced our slimmest module to date. With this solution, we can help improve the security and convenience of citizens by leveraging the full potential of the wireless and digital worlds around us”.

For more information, visit www.gemalto.com/m2m/