Vixen Electronics

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Independence with a safety net.

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Why did we build VEMS?

A few years ago we built a DIY monitor for our little boat to make sure it always had electric power and there were no water leaks! The monitor worked very well and warned us if there was a problem. We had started considering whether to market it when Martin's mother had a fall.

After an hour on the floor she managed to raise herself to a chair but this gave her, and us, a serious fright. She is in her 90s, living on her own and 30 miles from our house. We were both in full time work and we would have liked her to move closer to us, but she would not consider it. We wanted to help her, respect her desire for independence but be warned if she got into trouble. We needed something that behaved like our boat monitor but carried out a different set of checks.

That was where the whole thing started.

We used the boat monitor technology as the starting point and within a few weeks she had the very first prototype in her house. Initially it checked only for movement, but after a conversation with a friend whose mother had almost died of hypothermia because the heating broke down and she didn't notice it, we added sensors for temperature and humidity.

Initially, Mary had doubts about what the gadget would or would not do. 'Is the box going to record my conversations with Joyce?'. 'Is it going to record me going to the bathroom?'. 'What do I have to do so that the gadget doesn't raise alarms?'

The answers were 'No, it will not record your conversations; no it will not record you going to the bathroom; no, you do not have to do anything other than FORGET ABOUT IT once it has got switched on. The box gets used to YOU, and if it thinks there is a problem, it will send us a notification on the mobile. You just live NORMALLY'.

After a lot of thingking we came up with the name of VEMS, Vixen Electronics Monitoring System. Boring, but accurate.

In May 2018 she had a stroke, and VEMS warned us that 'it was concerned' about her. We arranged for someone to go to her and she had help within 1 hour. We do not know whether the warnings saved her life, but she certainly feels more confident that she has the monitors in her house, and we feel more confident that if something similar happens we will know within a few minutes.

We can check also keep a discrete eye on her activity from our mobile without having to pester her on the telephone. The graph shows us the expected against actual number of moments by hour for the last 4 hours. If we can see that she has not moved quite as much as expected, we give her a ring with some excuse, just to check that she is alright, but she does not feel that we are checking up on her. The ability to do this level of checking gives us a lot of reassurance.

We feel that there are tens of thousands of people in similar circumstances to us. People who are concerned about their elderly parents, frail grown up children, siblings or friends and want to provide support, but with a 'light touch'.

If you think that VEMS might help you or someone you care about, please get in touch.