The Evolution Of Personal Pendant Alarm Technology

Medical alert systems have been in place for decades – from coal miners using canaries to detect methane or carbon dioxide in mines to the innovative-for-its-time medical detection systems that became popular in the 1980s. Today, personal alarm technology has advanced greatly, thanks to the advent of digital technologies, smartphones and Wifi capabilities.

Early medical alert devices

It wasn’t until the early 1970s when the idea was conceived of forging a vital link between healthcare professionals and vulnerable patients, to ensure they could receive help when it was needed. In 1975 American International Telephone Corp. introduced a medical alert system that allowed a user to summon help by pressing a button on a pendant to call a series of pre-programmed phone numbers. Although rudimentary by today’s standard, this innovative idea was to grow, gaining momentum and undergoing a number of developments to become something more familiar. 

By the 1980s those early medical alert devices had morphed into systems that would connect users with a live, medically-trained operator, adding an additional layer of support and expertise to those using the pendants.

Innovative developments of the 1980s

The idea of medical alert pendants quickly took hold, as people recognised the significant benefits of being able to call for help quickly and efficiently. With time we saw significant improvements on the range of devices, no longer were users limited to using devices only within their homes, but now out and about alarms were empowering users to leave their homes confidently in the knowledge that help was only ever a button press away.

Yet, devices weren’t waterproof as yet, which left users vulnerable to slips and falls while bathing. They also required a landline telephone to operate.

The digital evolution

One of the most significant developments to happen with medical alert devices was the advent of digital technology. This paved the way for technology such as GPS tracking and opened up the possibility of more advanced features for devices that allows a user’s location to be detected to help with providing support.

Sensors and accelerometers were developed to add an additional layer of protection. These could detect falls, even if the user doesn’t press a button, and help could be automatically called for.

Smart digital technology has also enabled the development of systems that continuously monitor a home environment to pick up on any changes that could indicate a user needs help. Any changes to behaviour patterns or even temperature changes will alert teams to a potential incident or need for help.

The battery life for devices has grown, with the advent of rechargeable lithium batteries, freeing up people from having to charge up their devices constantly.

And perhaps the biggest shake up to the personal alarm device market is that of wireless technology. The digital switch-over is already in full swing, meaning more devices will now operate over WiFi networks instead of being reliant on antiquated landline technology.

Future developments

Much work is still being done to continually refine the technology and make it work harder. One area of interest is integrating a medical alert monitoring system with existing technology you have at home – such as smart speakers like Alexa, or smart watches. Other developments being explored include adding artificial intelligent-technology layers to support smarter monitoring, which is particularly useful in care home settings. It certainly is a case of ‘watch this space’ when it comes to personal pendant alarm technology.

Tech-driven care

Careium’s range of personal alarms uses the very latest technology to provide superior protection. Our dedicated team is able to find you the most suitable personal alarm system to suit your individual needs to ensure you’re protected around-the-clock. Speak to us today on 0300 333 6511 or read our FAQs to learn more.