GreatCall – Lively Wearable

Health Tracker & Discrete Emergency Response Button for Seniors

Introducing the ‘Lively Wearable’ Personal Emergency Response Device

Business Problem

GreatCall is a technology company that specializes in health products for older users. Its product portfolio included a range of proprietary communication devices ranging from a smartphone to a flip-style phone, to a smaller mobile medical alert device.  

Having reached a point where the smallest mobile device was not small enough, GreatCall engaged MPE (Formerly Mindflow Design). 

Client’s Challenge

Most personal emergency response systems available on the market to this point had design elements such as hard plastic wristbands with big red buttons that reinforced the frailty and helplessness of users.

GreatCall aspired to introduce a product that was designed to be a true wearable. Something stylish that seniors would feel comfortable wearing all the time in their daily lives, even in the shower where emergencies can occur.  Something that functioned in an optimistic sense as an adjunct to good health.  Something that projected the opposite of “Help! I’ve lost my independence and can’t take care of myself.”

Our Solution

MPE (Formerly Mindflow Design) was assigned to do all of the industrial design, mechanical engineering, verification testing and interface with the contract manufacturing partner through to production. GreatCall contracted with an electrical engineering company to create algorithms and electronics that would detect calls automatically. Our involvement extended to supporting the contract manufacturer by engineering test hardware and electronics test fixtures for the assembly line.

GreatCall brought us plans for a three-component system that allowed for miniaturization – an app that resides on the customer’s smartphone, an industry-leading call center, and the electronics. A small, discrete piece of hardware would communicate through Bluetooth from the device to the smartphone, which would in turn connect to the call center. Removing the cellular communication hardware from the device enabled it to be reduced to the size of an average wristwatch.

Shrinking the size of the device gave us the freedom to think creatively about how people might wear and use it. We strove for a design that empowered seniors and gave them confidence. The result was a stylish wristwatch-sized device that could convert to a pendant on a lanyard worn around the neck as desired. The modular design allows the user to choose the configuration and easily switch back and forth to suit personal preference. 

We also established a visual brand language for the device. One key goal was to make it discrete. Another was to relate it to good health, rather than helplessness. We did this by persuading the client to adopt a fitness tracker aesthetic, so wearers blend into their social groups, the opposite of how competitive devices were making them stick out.

The device’s name – Lively Wearable – conveys these attributes.


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