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SEVEN Base Unit: Customisable Safety Solutions for any Situation

April 28th, 2023

SEVEN Base Unit: Customisable Safety Solutions

The Chiptech SEVEN base unit has been designed to support people to live independently and safe at home and is customisable to meet the unique needs of different users. However, with its advanced technology and powerful capabilities, the SEVEN base unit offers a comprehensive safety solution for both individuals and organisations in other settings.

The SEVEN base unit is a versatile and customisable device that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of different users. From elderly living independently to people with disabilities or health conditions, the SEVEN base unit can help you stay safe and connected in a variety of situations. In this blog, we will explore how the SEVEN base unit along with associated peripheral devices can be customised to meet the specific needs of different users. With its advanced technology and user-friendly design, the SEVEN base unit offers a range of features and functions to support independent living and enhance quality of life. SEVEN can be utilised in a number of living situations; for users living at home alone, with a live in carer or family member, or within a retirement village setting. The SEVEN base unit isn’t just for individuals – it is also ideal for organisations that need to monitor and support lone workers or provide duress alarms for staff in high-risk situations.

The SEVEN base unit can be customised for monitoring a range of wireless peripheral devices, to provide daily check-ins, and reminders for specific actions, to provide voice notifications and comprehensive emergency response capabilities.

Standard Home User

The SEVEN base unit is most commonly installed to provide emergency assistance to elderly and vulnerable individuals in their homes. This installation includes a personal help button that enables users to connect to professional monitoring services when in need of assistance. The range of the personal help button covers a standard home and garden situation and provides reassurance to the user and their family that, if they should need help while alone, they can summon it by a simple button press.

To further enhance safety, third-party peripheral products such as smoke detectors, bed sensors, and Chiptech door contacts or fall detectors may be utilised in conjunction with the SEVEN base unit. These wireless peripheral products are used to manage specific risks and can be combined to support an end user in remaining safe. Typically, these risks include:

  1. Falls and injuries: One of the primary risks associated with aging is the risk of falls and injury which can be exacerbated by a long time on the ground. Telecare devices can help to manage this risk by providing automated fall detection and reporting. In conjunction with a wearable fall detector the user may have a bed sensor installed to indicated when they have left their bed in the evening and not returned within a specified timeframe. This could indicate they have had a fall during night-time hours.

  2. Dementia: People with dementia may have difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as cooking, using appliances, or taking medication. They may also wander or get lost, which can be dangerous if they are unable to find their way back home or to a safe place. Telecare devices can be used to alert when a fire has occurred, SEVEN can be programmed to provide daily reminders to perform task such as eating to taking medication and can be used to provide an early alert when a door is opened.

  3. Personal Security: Living alone when you are vulnerable can be a scary prospect. A Bogus Caller or Panic Alert rather than a medical emergency alert can be used to summon a different response. Chiptech Bogus caller buttons can be installed on doorways to provide users with the ability to summon help if they feel threatened or unsafe.

  4. Social Isolation: the ‘Daily Check’ or ‘I’m Okay’ function with SEVEN can be setup as a way for users to indicate they are up and about for the day. When enabled, the Connect button will flash blue at a pre-set time each day. If the user presses the Connect button it will send a ‘Daily Check’ report to monitoring, and a voice message will play. If they do not, the monitoring centre will try to make contact to check if they are OK.

Retirement Village

SEVEN can be utilised in various village settings, such as retirement villages, independent living facilities, and nursing homes, to provide emergency access to services. These systems can be monitored by staff members via the SmartCare Response App and/or a professional monitoring provider.

Alongside installations into individuals’ residences, and to further enhance safety, wireless help buttons can be included in communal areas of these facilities. Smoke detectors and other environmental sensors can also be added to increase overall safety.

SEVEN features a unique notification system where pre-recorded voice phrases can be triggered to play remotely to inform users of risky situations such as fire or flood, and the actions they will need to take including evacuations. It also has a set of friendly and action request including notifications about caregivers arriving, or that “it is lunch time soon” these can be used to keep residents informed of upcoming events.

Onsite Carer

The SEVEN base unit can provide valuable support for on-site carers, who may be responsible for the care of multiple individuals. By configuring the SEVEN system to generate unique announcements, carers can easily identify who needs assistance and provide targeted support. Additionally, the SEVEN base unit can be set up to monitor the use of doorways, ensuring that individuals do not wander outside of permitted areas or during certain times. This can be particularly useful for individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Since this system does not require remote monitoring, no connectivity (SIM card) is necessary, and it does not incur any operational costs. However, if the carer is not on site 24/7 and the device requires remote monitoring, a SIM card can be installed.

Lone Worker or User in Duress

The SEVEN base unit is an ideal solution for workplaces such as retail shops, 24/7 gyms, petrol stations, and show homes that have lone workers, employees or members who may be feeling unsafe, or fear being injured with no one around to assist. In such settings, the SEVEN base unit can be customised to provide both medical emergency alerts and discrete access to immediate assistance, ensuring their safety and security. Bogus Caller or Panic Alert buttons can be installed in various locations around the workplace, such as behind counters, in changing rooms, or in storage areas, providing employees with easy access to assistance if they feel threatened or unsafe. These can be programmed to send an alert, without making a loud alarm sound and open a voice connection so monitoring staff can listen (and record the audio) of a situation.

Personal help buttons can also be worn for those at risk of injury or a fall detector can be utilised in workplaces where staff members may work alone and are at risk of falling from standing. The SEVEN base unit with associated peripherals for duress situations can be monitored by a professional provider, such as a security company.

Alongside this the building can be fitted with monitored wireless environmental sensors so fire and gas events when no one is onsite can be alerted and a response actioned.

Conclusion

Whether you are an individual looking for a device to help you live independently and stay connected, or an organisation looking for a way to protect your staff onsite in potential high-risk situations, the Chiptech SEVEN base unit offers a customisable and reliable solution. With its advanced technology, user-friendly design, and powerful capabilities, the SEVEN base unit is the ideal device for anyone who needs to stay safe and connected in any situation.

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IP Ratings are Everywhere

March 24th, 2023

IP Ratings are Everywhere

As electronic products become more ubiquitous in our daily lives, it’s important to understand how they’re designed to withstand environmental factors such as water and dust.

As electronic products become more ubiquitous in our daily lives, it’s important to understand how they’re designed to withstand environmental factors such as water and dust. This is where IP ratings come in. The IP rating comes from a set of international standards that define the degree of protection that an electronic device provides against intrusion by solid objects (like dust) and liquids (like water). They ensure that the device can operate as intended in a variety of environments.

Understanding what the IP rating means enables a purchaser to make an informed decision between products by helping them to better understand if a product is suited to how they intend to use it.  

IP ratings are important for manufacturers, as they can use them as a selling point for their products. Additionally, they help ensure that products meet safety standards and regulations set by governments and other organisations.

Products gain their IP rating when the manufacturer submits them to a certified laboratory or other qualified test facility for formal testing. If a product meets the requirements for any given level of ingress protection, the testing laboratory is then able to issue a certificate or other statement to the manufacturer as evidence of the attainment. While some manufacturers self-certify to IP ratings, Chiptech wearable products with water resistance and waterproof claims are independently tested and certified. 

Understanding an IP Rating

When comparing the IP ratings of products, it’s important to realise that while a higher IP rating does indicate a stronger level of ingress protection (compared to a lower rating), this doesn’t mean that a lower-rated product is necessarily a poor or unsuitable choice for a person’s particular use. The correct choice of product for any user will depend on their exposure to various environmental and situational risks.   

Let’s look at an example of an IP rating to better understand what it means.

Consider the Pearl Product range from Chiptech, which has an IP rating of IP68. The letters ‘IP’ stand for ‘Ingress Protection’. ‘Ingress’ is the ability to gain access into something.

The first digit in an IP rating indicates a product’s ability to keep solid objects out, and is on a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest degree of protection possible. X is used to indicate where a product has not been tested. A product with a rating of 6 such as the Pearl personal help buttons, signifies the device is completely dust-proof and that not even very tiny dust particles can get inside it.

The second digit in an IP rating indicates a product’s ability to keep liquid out and this is on a scale from 1 to 8, with 8 being the highest degree of protection possible for immersion in water. There is a level of 9 on the scale but this is reserved uniquely for products which may be subjected to high pressure jets of hot water, and it doesn’t include any immersion testing at all. Pearl Advanced Fall Detector has a water rating of 7, which means that the device can be immersed in water up to a depth of 1 metre for 30 minutes. A rating of 8 applies to Pearl Pendant and Pearl Wristwatch and means that it can be immersed at a depth greater than 1 metre for a prolonged period.

Let’s break down the different levels of protection for each digit:

First Digit (Protection against solid objects):

Digit
Description
X
Not tested
O
No protection against solid objects
1
Protection against solid objects larger than 50mm (e.g. a hand)
2
Protection against solid objects larger than 12.5mm (e.g. fingers)
3
Protection against solid objects larger than 2.5mm (e.g. tools and thick wires)
4
Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm (e.g. small tools and wires)
5
Dust-protected (limited ingress of dust is permitted, but it must not interfere with the proper operation of the device)
6
Dust-tight (no ingress of dust is permitted)

Second Digit (Protection against liquids):

Digit
Description
X
Not tested
O
No protection against liquids
1
Protection against vertically falling drops of water (e.g. rain)
2
Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from vertical
3
Protection against direct sprays of water up to 60 degrees from vertical
4
Protection against water splashing from any direction
5
Protection against low-pressure water jets from any direction
6
Protection against high-pressure water jets from any direction
7
Protection against the effects of immersion in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
8
Protection against the effects of continuous immersion beyond 1meter in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer
9
High-pressure, hot water jets. Note: immersion not tested

A common question is  – what is the difference between level 7 and 8 for water protection, after all if level 8 is better than level 7 and wouldn’t I always just want that? Certainly, an IP rating of 68 is more robust than a rating of 67 however when you consider the needs of an end user this level of protection is more suitable for devices such as waterproof cameras, diving watches, and other outdoor equipment that may be exposed to water for longer periods of time or at greater depths. Similarly, an IP rating of 69 is for protection from high pressure and hot water, typically for pressurised jets or steam cleaning purposes and would not be applicable to many user scenarios.

Chiptech Product IP Ratings

During the manufacturing process Chiptech conducts immersion testing in hot water on 100% of the personal help buttons and GO mPERS we manufacture, so that people can be fully confident in the product’s ability to withstand the sorts of situations that can arise during everyday use  – such as washing hands with Pearl Wristwatch on, wearing the device in bath or shower, walking the rain etc.

Users can also be confident that regular exposure to moisture and dust won’t have any effect on reliability and the ongoing performance of the Chiptech device. These are the IP ratings of the Chiptech wearable devices.

Chiptech Product
IP Rating
IP67
GO Safe*
IP67
IP67
IP68
IP68
IP67

*GO Safe to be released in 2023

IP Ratings and Cleaning

As a result of the excellent IP ratings for Chiptech products, they can be regularly cleaned with no risk of water ingression. Before you start, ensure all cleaning agents are pH-neutral, non-abrasive, non-toxic and non-corrosive.

Chiptech recommends that Chiptech GO devices are cleaned with a damp cloth and a non-corrosive, non-abrasive cleaner. Do not spray directly, but spray cleaner on a cloth and then wipe over the devices. Ensure you wipe off any spray residue with a clean, damp, lint free cloth. To remove any debris, use a soft brush. When cleaning it is important not to push hard/sharp objects into either the microphone hole or the speaker hole as this could damage the mesh.

Pearl personal help buttons can be immersed in warm soapy pH-neutral water for cleaning. The temperature should not exceed 60˚C for more than ten minutes. Pearl chains and watch straps should be thoroughly cleaned with antiseptic cleaner in hot water.

Chiptech designs and builds rugged products that are supported by strong IP ratings, and that are intended to provide years of reliable operation despite being exposed to water and dust.

Everyday, these products deliver confidence and independence to the end user, and when it matters, they bring help.

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How will SEVEN Behave in a Disaster

February 28th, 2023

How will SEVEN Behave in a Disaster?

Earthquakes, rain and floods, or wind and storms can all have sudden and devastating effects on our neighbourhoods, and on our lives. So, what happens to SEVEN when there is a major power outage, or the cellular communications are disrupted?

If there is a major power outage, and the cellular communications and internet are disrupted by a disaster, how does SEVEN work to keep someone safe?  

A great starting point is to firstly understand all the possible communications pathways that SEVEN can use to send requests for help on. There can be multiple pathways available to SEVEN and the key point is that if one does not operate for any reason, then SEVEN will try another one – assuming this has been configured as an option. 

SEVEN Models

The various models of SEVEN do provide options for different communication pathways and these are shown in the table: 

Model
Cellular Network
SIM
Other
SEVEN LE
3G/4G
Dual SIM
Ethernet
SEVEN LiTE Dual
3G/4G
Dual SIM
N/A
SEVEN LiTE
3G/4G
Single SIM
N/A

It is important to note that for any given model of SEVEN not all pathway options may be available at an end user’s location, for instance a customer may only have cellular coverage at their location and not Ethernet

Ethernet Benefit 

A SEVEN that has both Ethernet and cellular configured for operation will firstly attempt to place the request for help via one of these pathways depending on the configured preference, and if that fails, which could happen in a natural disaster, then it will try again via the other pathway. If that attempt also fails, SEVEN will cycle through available pathways and keep retrying as long as needed. The user will be kept informed as SEVEN continues to try to make a connection. 

Dual SIM Benefit 

In a major disaster it is possible for the entire coverage of just one provider to fail while other networks may continue to operate. For instance, this could happen if a network provider operated just a single cell site in a rural location. This is an example where using a SEVEN with dual SIMs installed may be of great benefit. When the SEVEN is unable to locate any network coverage on the first network because that fails (SIM A in SEVEN), and if a second network provides coverage at the location, SEVEN will automatically change over to that other network using the second SIM (SIM B). As a result of dual SIM operation, SEVEN is particularly robust against the outages of network providers. 

Another scenario where a dual SIM SEVEN may be of benefit could be in an urban environment if there was a full network outage for one network provider that affected an entire suburb or town. In this situation, SEVEN would determine that the first network had failed, and then connect to, and utilise another operating network.  

For either of these scenarios, if the SEVEN has an Ethernet connection available, communication via this path will also be tried. 

Checking for Cellular Network

SEVEN performs checks every ten minutes to verify that the cellular network is always present. If six checks in a row fail to find the network, then SEVEN automatically tries to send a report informing the monitoring centre of this, either over an alternate pathway if one exists, or over the only cellular path when it is restored. The reports inform the monitoring centre about an end user’s situation without the end user having to tell them. If the SEVEN has dual SIMs installed, then SEVEN will check and use both as needed to try and gain a network connection to either network. 

The strength of cellular coverage is indicated to the end user by the number of red lights that are illuminated around the Help button, with four indicators representing the most coverage possible. 

It is possible for an installer to perform a communication pathway test which will automatically test all communication pathways that are available to a SEVEN and then inform the installer if they are working correctly. Please see the Product Manual and Installation Process for further details about how to do this. 

When Outages Occur

Cellular Communication Network 

Major events can also destroy cellular sites that SEVEN uses for communication. If this happens, SEVEN will then work to seamlessly connect to another site of the same cellular provider. If the SEVEN happens to be using an external antenna, then this may help to obtain cellular service from more distant sites and present more coverage options. SEVEN will always search for a network connection and if more than one is available, it will select the strongest one to use. 

When cellular connection is unavailable for a prolonged period, SEVEN will continue to check for the restoration of the service. It performs a check every 10 minutes, so it may be up to 10 minutes before the re-establishment of connection is shown on the SEVEN base unit via the ‘Connect’ indicator. Any high priority reports that have been trying to be sent will be sent as soon as the connection is detected as restored. 

Electrical Power 

Apart from losing communications in a major natural event, electrical power may also be affected in a local or wider area. If a cellular site has battery power back-up, it could operate for a while but may eventually fail if no form of charging eventually becomes available. During an emergency some cellular sites can be run from generators but this may cause sites to be intermittently available. SEVEN will always try to reconnect to other available cellular sites if it loses connection to the one it was using.  

If SEVEN happens to lose mains power in a disaster, it will operate as usual using the built-in back up battery. While a cellular outage is also occurring, SEVEN continues to try and connect to the network, which also consumes power. Testing has been conducted simulating these scenarios and with the recommended configuration setting applied, the results show that the SEVEN battery life will last over 40 hours. To optimise the overall battery life and ensure the best performance is delivered from SEVEN during a disaster involving a power outage, SEVEN automatically performs maintenance on the internal battery every 90 days. 

SEVEN will automatically try to inform the monitoring centre of a loss of power and then of low battery should this be reached when the mains power remains disconnected for an extended time. If the backup battery runs flat during an extended period with no mains power, it will recharge once the power is connected.  

SEVEN also features a safety system that holds high priority reports in non-volatile memory. This means if SEVEN has been trying to send an alert and runs out of battery power, when power is restored SEVEN will attempt to resend the high priority report(s) that are yet to be delivered. The only way to cancel these from attempting to be sent is to manually hold the ‘Power’ button to turn the unit off to reset it, and then turn it on again.  

Monitoring Centres

SEVEN also takes account of difficulties that might exist at a monitoring centre in the event of the monitoring centre becoming uncontactable, unmanned or extremely busy, as could be expected during a major event. 

SEVEN will automatically work its way down a predefined list of destinations until the report has been successfully sent. This list is split into two, one is used for high priority emergency reports from SEVEN and the other for status and maintenance reports. Priority should always be given from both SEVEN and enabling monitoring traffic to the high priority destinations. SEVEN typically has a list of site destinations for a monitoring centre along with a set of details specifically in place for ‘DR’ which is ‘disaster recovery.’ This considers a situation that even a monitoring centre may have to relocate because of a natural disaster. It also considers infrastructure issues that may make a primary monitoring centre uncontactable and allows for reports to ‘fail over’ to a secondary site to deal with the overflow of alerts.  

In an event where many SEVENs are reconnected to a reporting pathway at the same time this can cause a ‘flood’ or significant volume increase in reporting to a monitoring centre. This is to be expected and if all SEVENs cannot connect at the same time to send their report due to ‘loading’ at the monitoring centre, they will simply attempt to try send the report again. Due to the stage SEVENs are at in their reporting process when the service is restored some may send to the primary monitoring destination and some to the DR site. 

Having such an extensive list of destinations provides SEVEN with many more options to establish contact in an emergency. 

What else can be done?

SEVEN also has an ability for monitoring to be able to remotely trigger voice announcements using SMS for specific events. This could be useful if it were necessary to inform people to evacuate their location in the event of a flood or fire event, or to provide them early alerting of an impending weather event.

Conclusion

SEVEN has many mechanisms and levels of protection that are built in to ensure that everything possible is done to reliably deliver requests for assistance. Spending time to plan the communications pathways and destination lists used by SEVEN to build in resilience is an important step in the setup process that the Chiptech team can assist with to take into account the varying range of scenarios, risks and outages that can occur in the real world.  

Extensive and detailed product planning has been performed to carefully plan and test how SEVEN will work during a natural disaster, and because of this end users and installers can be confident in how SEVEN will behave should a natural disaster occur. 

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Button and Coin Cell Batteries

January 30th, 2023

Button and Coin Cell Batteries

From wearables to audio devices, all devices need power. Increasingly, the solution for many smaller and often portable products, is to use button batteries (non-lithium) or coin cell (lithium). 

From wearables to audio devices, all devices need power. Increasingly, the solution for many smaller and often portable products, is to use ‘button batteries’ (non-lithium) or ‘coin cell’ (lithium).  

Due to their small size and electrical performance, the popularity of these battery types is flourishing, and as their numbers grow, so too do the hazards they present.   

The proliferation of coin and button cells, and the resulting harm to people – especially children, has driven the introduction of regulations around the world to help keep people safe. 

Global Standards have been introduced to address key product areas such as the security of battery compartments and to ensure comprehensive product and packaging labelling. In the United Kingdom, PAS:2021 is the relevant national Standard that was published in April 2021. In Australia from June 2022 onwards, compliance with applicable safety and information standards is mandatory for manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers of button/coin batteries as well as for consumer goods that contain these batteries.

Examples of the safety labels for products using coin and button batteries and their packaging, are shown below. Additional safety labels exist that are specific to button battery storage.  

Hazardous situations exist for people when: 

  • Spare batteries are insecurely stored  
  • Additional batteries supplied with a new product are not packaged securely 
  • Flat batteries are not disposed of properly and are left lying around 
  • It is very easy to gain access to the battery in a product. 

There are sound practices for those who purchase products to help keep the people who are around those products, safer. These practices include:

  • Only choosing products with a securely sealed battery compartment 
  • Only buying batteries that come in childproof packaging  
  • Storing spare batteries securely in a container that requires some form of tool to open or needs two or more independent AND simultaneous actions to open. 
  • Regularly checking products to ensure battery compartments are secure 
  • Always checking medicines before taking them to avoid mistaking batteries for medicine 
  • Wrapping a flat battery in tape to make it less likely to short circuit and also less attractive for people to put in their mouths. 
  • Placing a wrapped flat battery into a childproof container before securely disposing of it at a designated recycling centre. 

Ingesting a button or coin battery is extremely serious and has the potential to cause catastrophic injury or death. Ingestion does require immediate medical attention, but unfortunately, the symptoms that relate to ingesting a battery are highly variable and not necessarily obvious. Possible symptoms may include gagging or choking, drooling, chest pain (grunting), coughing or noisy breathing, food refusal, black or red bowel motions, nose bleeds, spitting blood or blood-stained saliva, unexplained vomiting, fever, abdominal pain or general discomfort. There is one symptom that if it occurs, is strongly related to button battery ingestion, which is the vomiting of fresh (bright red) blood.

Safe Use of Batteries in Chiptech Products

Battery safety is a key aspect of design for Chiptech products, and users of them can be confident that they own a product that’s safe and easy to use. 

Chiptech personal help buttons (Pearl) have a solder-in non-replaceable battery and are designed to be permanently sealed, and impact resistant. They are individually drop-tested to ensure they are properly sealed.  

The original Chiptech SID devices featured a soldered-in battery that is not able to be replaced by the end user or service provider. When the battery is flat the SID can be returned to Chiptech for servicing, or it can be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner.  

The newer SID V2 devices have a replaceable battery for ease of servicing, they also feature a new case with a dual-opening mechanism to ensure battery security. Batteries should only be replaced, and the device tested, by a trained service technician or installer. Care should be taken when handling the replacement battery and the flat battery. Batteries should be stored safely, and flat batteries disposed of in a safe manner.   

The Chiptech GO contains a lithium button battery, which is secured in a case that is never to be opened by an end user, the case is impact resistant and will not expose the battery through a fall or drop. Additional protection is provided through the use of recessed security screws that require a customised tool to be undone.   

If any Chiptech product that contains a battery becomes physically damaged, there could be a risk of that battery becoming accessible or even separated from the device, and in this situation Chiptech recommends that the entire product is securely taped up and disposed of safely and responsibly.  

For information on batteries, warnings and storage recommendations, please refer to the individual product’s User Guide, or Technical Specification document.

Recycling Batteries

Batteries can be recycled to recover valuable and hazardous metals such as lithium, mercury, and cobalt for re-use, and to keep them out of the environment. Recycling batteries eliminates the risk of them causing fires in landfill areas which can then release toxic gases. To recycle button batteries safely, they should be taped up to prevent short-circuiting and to make them less attractive to people to consume, and then taken to an e-waste recycling facility. 

Button batteries and coin cells are a great power solution for small devices however they do come with unique safety responsibilities for industry, the supply chain, and the user.

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Understanding RF Coverage

November 29th, 2022

Understanding RF Coverage

When installing SEVEN in the home, there are several factors that need to be considered to ensure the Radio Frequency (RF) Range between a personal help button and the base unit is not affected. Check out our latest blog to understand RF coverage what to consider during your next installation.

We all enjoy the freedom of portable devices!

The freedom that portability offers makes our lives easier – think of entertainment, air conditioning and personal security. Sometimes it is hard to remember other ways we had to control things.

Along with portability comes coverage, which is when we find that portable devices work in some places but not others. Perhaps the devices do not work when we think they should, or they work when we do not think they possibly could. So, what’s going on here?

The thing that portable devices have in common to enable their portability, is that they all use some form of RF energy to send their control signals with. “RF” energy stands for “radio frequency” energy and is a form of electro-magnetic energy generated at a frequency within the radio spectrum. Over the years, RF energy has become so widely used and pervasive in our lives, it has simply been referred to as “radio”.

Some key things that affect the range of radio signals are the power of transmission, the frequency the transmission is operating on and the presence (or not) of physical obstacles in the path between the sender and the receiver.

For personal help buttons and the base unit (receiver), the transmission power is regulated to an ultra-low level to reduce the chance of interference with other devices on the radio spectrum, and to prevent exposure to RF emissions.

The frequency that is used for Chiptech personal response systems is either 869MHz or 916MHz, depending on the spectrum specified in the market to be used for personal alarms. Radio Spectrums are allocated to different industries and uses to prevent interference between different device types. An important characteristic of the 869-916MHz frequencies is that the pathway for it is regarded as being ‘line of sight’ with some ability to penetrate obstacles.

Simply put, “line of sight “defines a path that is about equivalent to what you can see. If you can “see” a clear path between the personal help button and the SEVEN base unit and if it is not beyond range, it should likely work. If the path has obstacles, then these could affect operation even if the personal help button and base are not that far apart. The impact of these obstacles depends on what density they have. For example, large volumes of metal or thick concrete walls will absorb more radio energy than a weatherboard wall, these dense or reflective objects may prevent an RF device activating a base unit.

Fortunately, it is easy to test the range between Chiptech personal help buttons and base units, to be confident these will work together in locations around the user’s home and garden.

What to remember during installation

During installation, there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure optimal range between the RF Device and the base unit.

Interference, line of site and location are the three main factors to keep in mind when choosing an installation position.

Interference
RF interference can come from electronic devices such as computers, televisions, touch lamps or old cordless phones. Avoid positioning SEVEN within 100cm of these devices to ensure the range and audio quality is not affected. Interference can also be caused by large transmitting equipment such as cellular towers that are within close proximity. Also avoid placing SEVEN next to large metal objects, e.g. a water cylinder, microwave, or fridge. The construction of the house can affect the range between RF devices and SEVEN. For example, buildings with concrete or metal-based walls will tend to reduce range. Foil insulation and metal garage doors can also affect the range.

To improve RF range, move the base unit away from these obstacles, away from the corner of rooms and ensure thorough range testing is conducted.

Line of sight
Remember to use the ‘line of sight’ rule when installing. Positioning SEVEN near a window at waist height can increase the range to personal help buttons if they are being used outside. To increase line of sight and installation options, SEVEN can be wall mounted by utilising the screw slots on the base unit.

Central location
Installing SEVEN in a central location will normally improve range. For example, if a house has a large front garden, then placing SEVEN at the front of the house will achieve the best range throughout the house and garden.

Chiptech RF

With many years of radio experience in our team we have designed our RF transceivers and receivers from conception to functional products, to work optimally together. By designing our own RF antennas, and in using our own “Pearl RF protocol’ for signal transmission and confirmation we can optimise the matching of our system, enhancing resilience and the range (in metres) of our systems.

Chiptech RF devices that communicate with the SEVEN base unit. These communicate over 869MHz (New Zealand and United Kingdom) and 916MHz (Australia) frequency, these frequencies are assigned for use by telecare products.

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GPS and Chiptech Products

October 31st, 2022

GPS and Chiptech Products

Understand GPS and how to get the best performance out of GPS Solutions.

GPS Inside and Out

Each satellite transmits information about its position and the current time at regular intervals. These signals, travelling at the speed of light, are processed by the receiving devices to calculate how far away each satellite is, based on how long it took for the messages to arrive. GO 3G uses the Global Position System (GPS), whereas GO 4G utilises a more extensive Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), where there are typically between six and twelve satellites above the horizon at any one time. GNSS constellations are designed to provide worldwide positioning services with an accuracy ranging from five to fifteen meters when outside. GPS currently has approximately thirty one satellites in service, in comparison to GNSS which has over one hundred satellites in service. Satellite location works on a separate system from the cellular network. Unlike smartphones, Chiptech products use the GPS/GNSS solely, without Wi-Fi or cellular, to find a device users’ coordinates.

How does GO location acquisition and reporting work?

GO is a wearable mPERS device with cellular connectivity and GPS location technology, designed for safety, to summon help beyond the boundaries of the home.

Once the alert is sent, GPS data is acquired on how far away at least three satellites are, GO uses a process called triangulation to find a central location and transmits these coordinates to location mapping software, such as SmartCare Locate. The more satellites there are above the horizon, the more accurately GO can determine its location. GO 4G also reports vertical height information and requires at least four satellites, the fewer satellites available the less accurate the vertical height information will be. Approximate accuracy is also sent and can be displayed in mapping software.

When the location is determined it is sent over the cellular network. Where GO 3G used to send through a ‘Rough’ GPS location first to speed up this process, GO 4G does not.  All emergency GPS locations are set to high precision. GO will then continue to send GPS coordinates at predefined intervals. The interval between sending locations is set in the GO configuration and in seconds. Typically, GO is set to send updated coordinates every two minutes.

If a location is not found, GO 4G will send a ‘No Fix’ report that indicates it is still able to communicate via cellular but cannot get GPS information, it will continue to try to obtain GPS coordinates.

A less precise GPS location will be sent during System Check to help speed up the process.

GO uses a feature known as Assisted GPS (A-GPS). The assisted GPS data file is downloaded via a cellular data connection from a server and the data is used to immediately identify the expected location of satellites in the sky.  This method expedites satellite acquisition when compared to transferring the data from the satellites themselves; For example, instead of waiting 15 minutes for a GPS fix, it can take as little as 20 seconds.

Why can GO not find my location inside?

GPS was designed to be used outdoors and works by receiving signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. A connection to multiple satellites is needed to obtain the best location, and this is not always possible when indoors. As  ‘line-of-sight’ to the sky is interrupted. When GPS is obtained inside, it is typically less accurate then if the device is outside, this is more obvious with GO 4G reports where an approximate accuracy is sent to mapping software and displayed as a radius.

In urban environments, nearby buildings may block or weaken GPS signals due to their construction materials. GPS signals may also bounce off these building (called ‘reflection’) and can result in less accurate locations being obtained.

When enabled in the System Check* GO will try to find its current location. This has a set timeout period applied so it will only try to obtain its location for the 2 minutes allocated, and then announce either a success or failure to find its location. The GPS satellite signals work best in line-of-sight situations where there are no obstructions between the satellite and the device. If GO is outside or positioned near a window with an adequate view of the sky, the performance of the device may improve.

It is important to understand the difference between the cellular location check and the Location check as you may find that GO is able to send an alert but due to its location and surrounding environment, may not be able to find a location.

Base Unit and GO Combo

Chiptech offer a SEVEN, GO and Pearl combo package, designed to get the most out of using GO at home and when out and about. If GO is activated it sends out a quick RF signal, when it is within range of the SEVEN base unit it will receive back a confirmation and then GO will send a ‘Home’ report, in place of the first GPS location report. This ensures the user can be located quickly when in range of their home. The RF signal has a reduced range of approximately 150m, less than a standard Pearl, in case the user is nearby but not at their own property. If for any reason GO is unable to send an alert, it hands the reporting process over to the base unit using another RF signal with a 300m range), which will send the emergency alert.

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Chiptech Devices Power Consumption

September 29th, 2022

Chiptech Devices Power Consumption

Chiptech have been asked more than ever about how much power our products consume. We have taken some time to look at our products mains power consumption.

Electricity prices are rising globally. In recent weeks there have been alarming reports coming out of the United Kingdom and Europe as they head towards the winter months. The Russia-Ukraine war threatens the stability of the energy supply chain with more demand being placed on other countries to supply coal and gas as an alternative to Russia. The impacts of raising wholesale prices (what retailers pay for the electricity they supply to end user) are being felt in some way or another across the world, including in Australia and New Zealand. While a focus on renewable energy has bolstered some of these traditional energy source shortages, they are more prone to being impacted by environmental factors, like extreme weather events, lack of rainfall, sunshine hours and wind. Coupled with this is a raising demand from consumers for electricity.

The number of appliances and interconnected electronic devices continues to grow with users having more electronic devices in their homes that require power to operate. Some figures show Australian consumers have rapidly increased the number of devices in their home with an average home now having 6.7 internet connected devices1. Higher electricity prices are significantly impacting lower income families and elderly pensioners, the more vulnerable groups in our society. Chiptech have been asked more than ever about how much power our products consume. We have taken some time to look at our products mains power consumption, which has been calculated to give an indication of how long the device will operate on 1kWh (kilowatt hour). A kilowatt hour is the primary unit that suppliers use for measuring and calculating your power consumption.

Product design includes the testing and selection of energy efficient plug packs, for powering Chiptech Products.

Product
Kilowatt hour
Time Period
SEVEN
1 kWh
Every 90 days
GO 3G and GO 4G
1 kWh
Every 150 days
ERICA, EVE and EVA
1 kWh
Every 90 - 120 days

SEVEN

The SEVEN base unit is constantly connected to mains power supply, however it is not performing tasks constantly and spends most of the time waiting for Radio Frequency signals in a low power state.

Consumption is based on the time it is idle, events where more power is consumed and the 90-day battery maintenance cycle that occurs to ensure a long-life backup battery. SEVEN uses more power when it is sending alerts or reports, in a voice call, performing actions such as flashing lights and voice announcing a status change, sending test reports to monitoring, SmartCare Cloud connections and applying updates. We calculate usage based on one alert occurring a month for a one-hour period, one full battery maintenance cycle and daily reporting to both monitoring and SmartCare Cloud. Over a 3-month period SEVEN will consume approximately 1kWh.

Over one month SEVEN uses approximately 9c of power based on the average cost of power across New Zealand and Australia 3.

1kWh per 90 days

1kWh to boil 1L 10 times2

GO 3G and GO 4G

GO is a Mobile Personal Emergency Response System (mPERS) that runs on a lithium battery and is recharged on a wireless charger periodically. GO does not need to be charged frequently, but it is typically charged once every 30 days or after it has been activated. The frequency of charging does depend on how often the end user is using their device as well as the configuration settings applied. Over a 5-month period (150 days) with the charger constantly connected to power and, recharging every 30 days a GO will consume approximately 1kWh.
Over one month, GO uses approximately 6c of electricity based on the average cost of power across New Zealand and Australia3.

1kWh per 150 days

1kWh to boil 1L 10 times2

References

  1. National population projections 2020 – 2073.
    National population projections: 2020(base)–2073
  2. Boiling 1L of water in a 2200W jug.
  3. $0.27 per kWh Prices as September 2022

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Supporting an Ageing Population with Technology

August 30th, 2022

Supporting an Ageing Population with Technology

Chiptech are committed to supporting our in-market partners to get the best out of the current solutions available, while continuing to develop real world solutions that fill the deficits appearing in aged care to the community.

Looming challenges ahead for New Zealand

The 65+ population in Aotearoa, New Zealand, is predicted to increase significantly in the next decade or so, topping one million KiwisBy 2030, it is expected that 19–21% of New Zealanders will be aged 65 years and over, compared with 16% in 2020.1 This has implications on housing, employment, health, financial capability, and social issues. The pressure on these sectors are further exacerbated by a “severely understaffed aged care sector [that] is no longer merely a possibility, but a clear and present danger affecting our elderly population.” 2  

“While our aging population in New Zealand is increasing, we are also seeing changes in the way care is being accessed. The biggest trend is that older New Zealanders are choosing to wait longer to access formal care, which means by the time they arrive at a facility their stay will be shorter, but their need for expert care is more acute.” 2

Aged Care Association president Simon Wallace said the workforce was short about 1,000 registered nurses and demand for aged residential care was forecast to increase by an estimated 15,000 beds by 2030.

Australia's Pending Crisis

Unfortunately, Australia’s elderly are facing a dire proposition. It is projected that the number of Australians aged 85 years and over will increase from 515,700 in 2018–19 (2.0% of the Australian population) to more than 1.5 million by 2058 (3.7% of the population). 3

The number of people aged 65 years and over is also projected to nearly double, from 3.8 million people in 2017 to between 6.4 million and 6.7 million people in 2042. 4

Findings from the Australian Royal Commission on Aged Care state that “Aged care services are not generally geared towards people’s enablement and do not maximise the maintenance and improvement of people’s health. The current system does not sufficiently recognise the importance of proactively supporting older people’s social and emotional wellbeing.”

“Australia’s aged care system is understaffed, the workforce underpaid and undertrained. The aged care system is well behind other sectors in the use and application of technology and has no clear information and communications technology strategy. This mix of factors has resulted in an aged care sector that is behind the research, innovation and technological curves.” 

Technology Enabled Care

With these looming deficits in resources, funding, and people power, technology is being looked at as a way to solve some of the complex challenges in improving patient centred care to older individuals in the community. To this end Chiptech continues to work with our customers and industry partners to research, design and find innovative way to provide technology-based solutions to keep end users safe, well, and active members of the community.

At Home: 
SEVEN is the 7th generation of in-home base units designed by Chiptech as a platform to deliver not only safe communication in the event of an emergency, but to act as a care communication platform for enhanced monitoring and service delivery. Current features on SEVEN include customisable timed daily reminders for taking medication, eating, or going to bed. There is a daily check function, where a user is prompted to check in with their service provider to acknowledge they are Ok. SEVEN has the ability to announce pre-recorded voice notifications, from friendly to critical, such as a caregiver will be there soon, or an evacuation notice. All user interactions with these features can be monitored and actioned by a service provider using an agreed-upon care plan. Additional peripherals can be paired with SEVEN to provide automated alerts for the occurrence of a fall, wandering from home, or the presence of fire or gas in the house.  

Chiptech continues to expand the range of features SEVEN offers, and peripherals that can connect to SEVEN, therefore expanding the services able to be provided to end users.  

Out and About:
Chiptech’s GO 4G is the latest mPERS offering that provides the user with safety both at home and away with connection to assistance when required, at the press of a button. With automated fall detection this provides an added layer of safety and encourages users to go beyond the boundaries of their home, engage with the community and stay active

Person Centric Care

As with all person centred care, the success of technology implementation is based not only on the ease of use, but also the quality of the wrap around service that accompanies the product. Chiptech is committed to supporting our in-market partners to get the best out of the current solutions available, while continuing to develop real world solutions that fill the deficits appearing in aged care in the community. New developments from Chiptech focus on getting the right resources, to the right users, at the right time. Underpinning these new innovations is a comprehensive trail of what has happened leading up to an event and afterwards. Technology enabled care is expanding and becoming more important in delivering quality aged care services to the community.

Want to know more
If you want to learn more about current product offerings or our future solutions roadmap, please contact support@chiptech.co.nz 

References

  1. Stats NZ 2020. National population projections.
    National population projections: 2020(base)–2073 | Stats NZ
  2. Grant Thornton 2021. Care worker shortage: Here comes the tipping point.
    Care worker shortage: Here comes the tipping point | Grant Thornton
  3.  Aged Care Royal Commission 2021. Final report summary.
    Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report: Summary
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018. Population aged over 85 to double in the next 25 years.
    Population aged over 85 to double in the next 25 years | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)

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SEVEN Cellular Coverage Tips and Tricks

July 25th, 2022

SEVEN Cellular Coverage Tips and Tricks

When you experience coverage issues with a SEVEN base unit it is good to know there is a sequence of steps that can be taken to determine what is causing the issue and what is the next best step to take.

One of the key factors when installing SEVEN is to ensure there is adequate cellular coverage where the base unit is located. Good cellular strength will ensure that the base unit will connect to monitoring even with environmental changes.

During installation, if SEVEN cannot establish a cellular connection at all, there are several steps you can take to find good cellular connection.

Before you head to an install it is good to check that there is 4G coverage at the address, using the telecommunication providers address lockup on their website. In locations where coverage appears to be patchy it is a good idea to take an extended aerial version of SEVEN, if needed this can be installed to improve the coverage. It is also good to have a SEVEN that operates on another cellular network, in cases where there is no coverage from one of the providers, SEVEN on another network may come in handy.

When your SEVEN cannot get cellular connection

When SEVEN is first turned on the ‘Connect’ button should display a solid orange light for approximately one (1) minute, for single SIM card, and up to five (5) minutes for dual SIM cards, while connecting to the local cellular network. If the button does not change to green or starts flashing orange or red, it means that SEVEN is unable to establish a connection to the cellular network.

What to do when the ‘Connect’ button flashes at installation:

  • If the ‘Connect’ button is flashing orange, press it to hear what communication pathways is not connecting. If you have a communication pathway enabled that is not meant to be, or no longer required, use the Installer Setup Menu (or Chiptech Wizard) to select only the communication pathways you intend to use at the install site.
  • If the ‘Connect’ button continues to flash, disconnect the power, and turn off the base unit by holding the ‘Power’ button until you hear three beeps followed by a lower beep. Move the base unit to another location, away from large metal objects and not on top of a stainless-steel bench / fridge, adjusting by as little as 50cm can help improve connectivity. Wait for at least ten seconds and then reconnect the power to start the base unit again, wait for the ‘Connect’ button to turn green.
  • If the ‘Connect button’ continues to flash, and this isn’t a new SEVEN (out of the box) ,check the SIM card(s) is present and inserted correctly behind the battery pack. To check a SIM, first disconnect all cables and turn off the base unit, before opening the battery cover with a Torx screwdriver. Check that the SIM card(s) contacts (gold area) are clean of fingerprints and debris and that they are aligned correctly in the SIM slot, with the hinge closed securely. SIM card(s) can be swapped with another from the same provider if required.
    Please note, the SIM slots are associated with registration details so the same SIM provider must be used in the same slot, or the configuration file will need to be updated to apply changes to ensure the new SIM card can connect to the network.
  • If a connection cannot be established, check with the cellular service provider that the SIM card(s) is activate, provisioned with the correct services, and that there are no local outages on the 4G network in the area.
  • Try installing another SEVEN to determine if it is a hardware or setup issue. If it is, then use the Chiptech Wizard and a SERMOD cable to update the configuration and firmware to the latest versions available from Chiptech. A newer firmware file may improve cellular connectivity as it keeps pace with telecommunication changes. Alternatively, fill in a fault form and return the base unit for servicing.

SEVEN External Aerial Base Units

The extended aerial variant of SEVEN has been designed for improving cellular coverage in areas where there is limited cellular coverage of the 4G/3G network. If you find there is “Poor” or no coverage and the related Telecommunications provider map indicates there should be some coverage at the installation site, we recommend installing a SEVEN with an extended aerial; SEVEN-X or SEVEN D-X, or SEVEN LiTE-X.

The ‘X’ base units have a SMA female connector so an external aerial with a SMA male connector can be connected to it to improve the ability to connect to the network. Chiptech has tested and recommends two 4G/3G aerials, providing an indoor and outdoor option. These can be found on our ‘SEVEN External Aerials Recommendations’ reference document.

When installing an ‘X’ version make sure you find a position with “Good” or “Excellent” coverage and then fix the aerial (where it will not be knocked or moved). Remember to send an alert to the monitoring centre to ensure both data and voice communications are working as expected.

System Testing

To complete an installation, ensure that a full system test is completed. Activate the RF device (to check the RF transceiver is functioning as expected), hear the loud alarm sound and voice messages as the report is being sent (checks volume and that the data report can be sent). When “the alert has been received,” wait for ring back from the monitoring centre, and check that you are able to communicate over the speakerphone (checks that the voice is operating from monitoring to the base unit).

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Electromagnetic Compatibility with Pacemakers

June 27th, 2022

Electromagnetic Compatibility with Pacemakers

Understand Electromagnetic Interference and how to use Chiptech products when an end user has a Pacemaker or implanted electronic device.

Chiptech designs and manufactures a range of telecare base units and wearable alerting devices to support people to be independent and safe. Chiptech base units and wearables are independently tested by accredited test labs for compliance with a range of standards, including Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and the Radio Equipment Directive (RED).

Please refer to the applicable Technical Specification document for a list of standards that each product complies with, along with the frequencies utilised, and their automated testing intervals.

Electromagnetic interference

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the concept of enabling different electronics devices to operate without mutual interference when they operate in close proximity to each other.

Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) can occur in a number of ways and from a range of sources, including naturally occurring and man made devices.

Pacemakers, defibrillators, ECG monitors and other electronic medical implant devices are made to withstand EMI in accordance with the government or regional regulations. As these standards vary across different markets and device types it is important that an end user is referred to their medical specialist to discuss any specific concerns about electromagnetic interference. The specialist can provide further information and guidance provided by the implant device manufacturer.

The New Zealand Heart Foundation recommends that users who have a pacemaker:

“It’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s brochure of any devices you would like to use, and ask the staff at your pacemaker clinic about anything you’re unsure about.

Chiptech Products

Base Units
Chiptech base units utilise RF and cellular technology, therefore it is recommended that the pacemaker or implanted electronic medical device be kept a least 25cms away from the base unit when they are on.

Personal Help Buttons
Pearl personal help buttons, including Pearl Advanced, utilise a low power (60μW) radio frequency signal (RF) to connect with a Chiptech base unit. These RF transmissions are very brief, typically 0.2 seconds, and only occur at automated test times (typically every 7 hours), and when they are activated by a button press.

Pearl personal help buttons are designed and manufactured to reduce electromagnetic interference with other electronic devices. Chiptech personal help buttons do not have any magnets. Pearl can be worn by a user with a pacemaker or other implanted electronic device. However, if the end user has any concerns, please request they consult their medical specialist for further advice.

Standard Interface Device (SID)
SID products utilise the same low power radio frequency (RF) signal as Pearl products to connect to a base unit, and SID can be used near a pacemaker or other implanted electronic device, if required.

The exception is SID + Magnet, which are supplied with magnets which can cause EMI. At all times, a pacemaker or implanted electronic device should be kept at least 15cms from products with magnets.

Mobile Personal Help Devices
All GO devices utilise both RF and cellular frequencies (the same as a cellular phone). If the end user has a pacemaker, they cannot wear GO around the neck, as a pendant. GO can be attached with the supplied split ring to a belt clip or keys. At all times GO must be at least 15cm from the pacemaker or implanted electronic device.  

GO has a Qi compliant wireless inductive charging system, when connected to power a pacemaker or implanted electronic device should be kept at least 15cms from the charger, including when GO is charging.

The New Zealand Heart Foundation recommends that users who have a pacemaker:

“You should be able to use a cellphone, but to keep you safe please make sure you keep it at least 15cm (six inches) away from the pacemaker.”

Important to Remember

Please note, the EMC recommendations we provide are generalised. Medical device manufactures’ products are made to differing specifications and standards and these will change over time and in different markets. Along with this, industry and advisory groups may have different recommendations depending on the market being supplied. If in doubt, the user with the implanted electronic device should consult their medical specialist.

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