back to article Comcast – the cable giant America loves and trusts – confirms in-home health device to keep tabs on subscribers

Comcast is working on a health device complete with motion sensors that will keep tabs on elderly or disabled people in their own homes. The US cable giant will start a pilot of the system this year with a rollout planned in 2020. It uses motion sensors and would do things like log how many trips to the bathroom someone is …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    pitching its lackluster Apple Watch as a health monitoring device – although that may also be due to its senior executives increasingly viewing technology as something to help them in their old age.

    Or maybe to increase their bonuses?

    I'm just not believing the crap that's coming out into the tech market as being "helpful" to users. Most of it only seems to benefit the company that makes it. And yes, I'm sure the health insurance companies would love to make a few million a year payment to Comcast (and others) to have this monitoring going on for them.

  2. JimboSmith Silver badge

    There's no way I'd have something like that in my house or my mothers. It's really creepy and if Comcast wasn't the only option for internet and cable I wouldn't use them.

  3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Fox in the Hen House

    Maybe a baby fox, but still a fox in the hen house. Medical monitoring sounds like a good idea for the elderly but there are many questions about security to answered. Be wary, very wary of any data slurping by anyone.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Fox in the Hen House

      Medical monitoring is for when you are in hospital, a panic button round your neck would be better in the house than a surveillance system for the insurance company's benefit.

      Either way, ambulances increasingly fail to get to emergencies in time and the insurance don't want you to reach the hospital anyway.

      1. ST Silver badge

        Re: Fox in the Hen House

        > [ ... ] a panic button round your neck would be better in the house [ ... ]

        This already exists - at least in the US. Several security companies offer this service, and it works pretty well.

        So why is Comcast + insurance companies getting involved with some new monitoring device that - based on their description - appears much too intrusive and completely useless at the same time?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Fox in the Hen House

          Profit for Comcast and the insurance companies get to "adjust" rates which is profit.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Fox in the Hen House

          So why is Comcast + insurance companies getting involved

          Profit. Insurance companies get to 'adjust' their premiums and Comcast gets to sell badly-anonymised heath data to anyone with a few shekels and an equivalent set of morals as Comcast (ie - none).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Loves and trusts"?

    Somehow, that feels like the sarcasm tags are missing. Is it just me?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "Loves and trusts"?

      Its not just you. Comcast is one of the most hated and distrusted companies in the United States.

      1. Fatman

        Re: "Loves and trusts"?

        <quote>Comcast is one of the most hated and distrusted companies in the United States.</quote>

        Comcast's level of respect from its customers lies below the bottom of a cesspool.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: "Loves and trusts"?

          You are far too kind.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: "Loves and trusts"?

      Comcast used to be the #2 most distrusted and hated cableco in the US. Times-Warner was #1. Comcast bought Times-Warner. Do the math.

  5. vtcodger Silver badge

    The basic idea may be sound

    This isn't necessarily a stupid idea. However, it's complicated and if there is one thing Comcast is not good at, it is anything complicated. In fact simple often seems well beyond their capabilities.

    I think perhaps if the endpoint systems at both ends are provided by some organization capable of dealing with patient and medical provider needs and Comcast just does the interconnection, the idea MIGHT have some merit.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: The basic idea may be sound

      It's actually a pretty good idea. The bad part is the involvement of Comcast. The even worse part is the involvement of insurance companies.

      It also strikes me that a lot of, if not most of, the monitoring and analysis of sensor data could be done entirely locally rather than sending it all off to a third party. If the local monitoring system detects a potential problem, then it could do something like notify that person's physician directly.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: The basic idea may be sound

        It's actually a pretty good idea.

        No, it's not. It's YAN portal into the Surveillance State (or perhaps more accurately, at least at present, is the Surveillance Co. Inc.) Any thingie that monitors you, and reports what it's monitoring to another entity for unstated or unclear purposes, is Not A Good Thing, Period.

        Yeah, call me paranoid, or a Conspiracy Theorist, or whatever you will. I'm old enough to remember Anonymity -- and relished it then, and relish it even more now that it is under a full frontal attack.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The basic idea may be sound

      There are companies that do provide this service already. My ex has one for herself due to medical issues and it's just hangs on a lanyard around her neck. No reports back to insurance on how many times she uses it which a plus.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The basic idea may be sound

        Most of my elderly relatives use Life Alert. It has extended the lives of several of them, despite most of them being cantankerous old farts who insist on living alone and taking care of themselves in their old age. My Great Aunt, who is well over 100, has had the service for over 25 years, after seeing the Dr. C. Everett Koop commercials on TV in the early '90s. It has saved her life a handful of times. Recommended.

        1. Alien Doctor 1.1

          Re: The basic idea may be sound

          Whenever I see or hear that name the great Frank Zappa pops into my head:

          Is Doctor Koop a man to trust?

          It seems at least that Reagan must

          (And Ron’s a trusting sort of guy –

          He trusts Ed Meese

          I wonder why?)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The basic idea may be sound

            As much as I am a fan of the work of Zappa, he clearly had the wrong end of the stick when it came to Koop in that song.

    3. swm Silver badge

      Re: The basic idea may be sound

      Where my mother lived (independent living) they had a motion sensor under the refrigerator. If there was no motion detected the staff checked up on the person. My mother also had a "panic button" (which she used once). Both are useful.

      Comcast is not useful.

  6. Detective Emil

    Customer retention

    Surely it's a move by Comcast to keep those customers they still have alive and paying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Customer retention

      actually, no need to keep them alive, just include a pair of auto-shears, chop-chop, keep the finger alive to push the fingerprint payment authorization button every month or so.

      And look, what cost optimization savings! What profit margins increase! What bonuses! What share price increase! Benefits right across the board, for all those involved! The future is bright, the future is almost here!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    keep tabs on elderly or disabled people

    I see a natural progression for near future: all other, more mobile subjects to be fitted with a long, retractable chain. No way? Well, just you wait! If there's a marketing department, there's ALWAYS a way!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: keep tabs on elderly or disabled people

      Nah, no need for a long retractable chajn. Just an ankle bracelet with GPS that calls home with location info on a regular basis. Or a cell phone.

  8. steviebuk Silver badge

    Pointless

    "Motion sensor". So the old person falls over, ComCast sees their waving hand as "motion" and just ignores it. Seems bollocks to me. Things like the redbutton which most areas have are good enough. They sub to it monthly and wear their red button. If they fall, just press it and someone comes to check. Or you can have the option where you have to press it every day at least once to say you're OK. If you don't, someone will come round to check you're OK. Works just fine and is simple.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: Pointless

      I think the idea isn't so much to detect immediate emergencies as it is to detect changes in behavior that may indicate a medical issue that needs attention, perhaps before the patient knows it. Being able to track things like an increase in bathroom use, for instance.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Pointless

        I think the idea is to make money for Comcast and the insurance industry.

        FTFY

        1. JohnFen

          Re: Pointless

          That didn't need fixing. I was talking about the larger idea, not what Comcast is intending. Yes, for Comcast and company, this is all about the money.

  9. Mystic Megabyte
    FAIL

    Ask the right question

    > [ ... ] a panic button round your neck would be better in the house [ ... ]

    My *mother once pressed the red button and the telephone responder asked "Are you OK?". As my mother had survived WW2 London anything short of "are your legs still attached?" would get the OK response.

    I complained, and now they ask, "Why did you press the button?".

    *long time dead now

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