The Voice revolution - Why Voice?

By Paul Craig, Head of IoT at OV

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Voice IoT is growing exponentially. What was once considered a nice-to-have in IoT is now a reality, transforming the safety and efficiency of organisations globally.

Employing Voice IoT over traditional IoT creates an inclusive environment where you can share data hands-free at speed, personably, and securely. Its benefits are not exclusive to one sector: it has been a driving force in improving protection for lone workers and providing assurances in remote healthcare.

Voice IoT protecting lone workers

When you think of lone workers, you probably picture a telecoms engineer in the middle of nowhere, but actually, the definition includes anyone working solo without management. Hence, a technician working alone in a garage, a carer working call outs alone, or a delivery driver is classified as a lone worker.

Before the 2000s, lone workers had little to no protection, which meant they were vulnerable to emergencies. But then, a change in legislation brought stricter sanctions on companies and directors that were deemed to not be protecting their employees.

Now, most lone workers operate with a Voice IoT-enabled panic button, usually as a wearable device such as a watch. If pressed, it sends an emergency signal to a team on standby, who can respond. An emergency could be anything from an attack to a fall, and often the worker may be unable to communicate the situation via text or voice..

Voice IoT is crucial in this. Once the button is pressed, it connects to a voice call, and the team can immediately hear the worker’s surroundings. If they hear silence, they can safely presume the worker has taken a fall and speak out to reassure them until the emergency services arrive.

Whereas, if they hear shouting, scuffling, or fighting, they know the worker is under attack and can discretely send the emergency services out to the incident without alerting the attacker.

Added to this, if you are unable to speak, the SIM in the IoT device enables the emergency service to plot the worker's position via data recording and confirm who the person is via the SIM number. Without Voice IoT, millions of workers would still be vulnerable, but with the integration of voice, employers and workers alike can be confident in their safety.

Voice IoT facilitating remote healthcare

For lone workers, both the reassurance and listening capabilities of Voice IoT have equal importance, but in remote healthcare, Voice takes on a greater context, enabling carers to communicate essential reassurance hands-free.

IoT has typically been used in the healthcare industry to monitor vitals remotely, predicting and preventing severe illness and now with the capabilities of voice, carers can communicate with patients from the device too. The demand for remote care has increased rapidly in the past decade, fuelled in recent years by Covid-19.

If patients are medically able, staying in their own home reduces pressure on hospital capacity and keeps that person in a comfortable environment. This further intensified

during the pandemic, as pressure on hospital staff and space grew and the need to isolate patients or keep them out of medical settings to reduce outbreaks soared.

Voice IoT can come in multiple discrete forms for healthcare; workers may wear ID badges or a watch, while care-receivers often wear pendants or bracelets. The more the technology blends into the person's environment, feeling natural, the better the user experience.

For patients in care, it is highly unlikely they’ve been attacked and much more likely that they are looking for reassurance. Someone living home alone with dementia may be confused and need to hear a calming voice; pressing a button on their device will instantly connect them with a carer who can speak with them and provide comfort.

Similarly, if someone has fallen and cannot reach the phone, they can press the button on their wearable device and they will be connected with a carer who can reassure them that someone is on their way to help.

In some cases, it might not relate to medical services; instead, simply knowing that a family member is available to chat with at the click of a button is enough support for that person.

As technology enables remote healthcare, voice ensures that vital human connection is not lost. With Voice IoT, monitoring patients' vitals outside of the hospital, as well as offering remote reassurance, means the level of treatment received by the patient is never compromised, while the ability of healthcare workers tending to multiple patients is improved.

Ensuring a reliable connection with multi-network SIMs

Voice IoT is creating new ways to offer protection and care through technology, but none of this would be possible without reliable connectivity.

Lone workers can’t afford network outages. If they have an emergency and cannot connect to a voice call, they will be entirely alone, jeopardising their health and safety. Likewise, if someone at home suddenly can’t connect to their carer and is experiencing an emergency such as a fall, the inability to contact someone could be life-threatening at worst and highly traumatic at best.

Installing multi-network SIMs into devices that support Voice IoT means that the SIM will simply connect to another network in the area if a connection drops. This way, users never have to worry about experiencing network outages, and Voice IoT can continue to revolutionise the safety of the world without interruption.

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