Comcast Working on Health Monitoring Device for the Elderly But Don't Call It an Alexa

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Comcast is working on a new in-home device that will monitor your health, according to a new report from CNBC. A source familiar with the product confirmed its existence to Gizmodo but clarified that much of CNBC’s early reporting on the device today was inaccurate—namely that Comcast was working on anything close to an Alexa competitor.

Comcast’s health monitoring device will primarily be used to detect motion within the homes of elderly people, picking up patterns on how the user moves and trying to spot anomalies that may be related to health issues.

For instance, if an elderly person is getting up more frequently to use the bathroom there may be an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. Or if an elderly person is staying in bed for longer than usual that may be another red flag for caregivers to address. These kinds of problems can often fly under the radar in self-reporting by the user who either doesn’t remember getting up to use the bathroom or doesn’t want to admit that they’re feeling tired and spending more time in bed. The device will also be on the lookout for falls, something that can be particularly difficult for elderly consumers.

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Comcast has no plans for a direct-to-consumer launch of the forthcoming product and will instead be partnering with a health care network to test the yet-unnamed device.

One thing that’s still unclear is precisely who will have access to any data collected by the product. Is it just for your doctor? Your family members? And what if the elderly patient doesn’t want to use it?

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The project was reportedly spearheaded by Sumit Nagpal, a senior vice president and “manager of health innovation” at Comcast, according to CNBC. But again, it’s not an Alexa-enabled device and won’t be anything like a smart speaker that has its own personality, our source tells us.

Comcast plans to test the product later this year and hopes to launch a pilot network by 2020.

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About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog