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CaT Pin prototype. Photo: RMIT University

Brooch to track conversations, warn of social isolation

How many conversations do you have in a day?

A wearable device might soon be able to tell you.

RMIT researchers have partnered with Bolton Clarke to develop the CaT Pin. It tracks the wearer’s conversation and sends alerts to family or carers at signs of social isolation.

The technology, which can be worn as a lapel pin or brooch, monitors baseline conversations and word count throughout the day and prompts social contact if levels drop too low.

Project lead and RMIT designer Leah Heiss said CaT Pin was a low-cost solution to the loneliness experienced by older adults due to lack of social interaction.

“Solutions to this challenge require a human-centred and interdisciplinary approach to technology design,” Heiss said.

Matiu Bush, senior strategist in business innovation at Bolton Clarke, said addressing loneliness can help provide a better quality of life for Australia’s ageing population.

“The health consequences of loneliness and isolation are dramatic and can include disrupted sleep, high blood pressure, increased depression, lower immunity and generally lower overall wellbeing,” Bush said.

The team said the device, which won the Telstra Designing for Aging Well Challenge, can be personalised for each wearer by designing around existing jewellery or items like medals or textiles.

The $10,000 cash prize will allow the team to develop proof-of-concept technology for user testing and investigate mass customisation.

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