Elderly tech: The benefits of eavesdropping on seniors

Controversial as it sounds, installing hi-tech microphones to listen in on seniors could be a good thing in a few cases, according to designer Eric Baczuk.

Technology that makes life better for the elderly is usually fairly uncontroversial – not so for Eric Baczuk’s idea. He wants to fit microphones in the homes of seniors, so they can be monitored.

If it sounds crazy, it’s worth knowing a bit about Baczuk’s day job. He’s an interaction designer at the design firm Frog, part of a team looking at ways to better connect ageing parents and their children.

After talking with elderly people about their needs, he and his team came up with devices that study the speech patterns and intonations of senior citizens. Why might this be a good idea? As he explains in the video above, it’s more about connecting families than surveillance.

Eric Baczuk spoke to BBC Future at
SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.

Additional footage courtesy: Frog Design and Shutterstock.