In South Korea, telecom giant KT has come up with a way to address a growing problem -- as younger people move from rural areas into cities, more and more elderly people are ending up living alone and isolated.
More than 1.38 million older Koreans now live by themselves, and there have been high profile cases where people have ended up dying without anyone knowing for long periods. Agency Cheil Worldwide developed an idea called the "Life Saving TV," which uses seniors' televisions to communicate a signal to let someone know they're OK. The project is based on the insight that over 98% of elderly living alone have a TV set, and the first thing they do when they get up in the morning is turn on their TV.
Cheil developed code which allows any TV to communicate, via a set top box, with designated mobile phones. When the elderly person turns on their TV set in the morning, the code automatically sends a text message to the mobile phone of a caregiver or relative. If there is no TV activity after 24 hours, another text message is automatically sent to the elderly person's social worker alerting them, and the social worker can call or visit.
Since the project was first piloted in Seoul last October, according to Cheil the KT Life Saving TV has resulted in a 125% increase in visits by social workers to the elderly in their charge, a 300% increase in texts from social workers, and a 400% increase in calls to the elderly from social workers and caregivers. The project will now be rolled out across Korea.
Kate Hyewon Oh, executive creative director, Cheil Worldwide said in a statement: "In the last 10 years, the number of seniors has doubled in South Korea. A lot of these men and women live on their own and fear dying alone. The idea behind the KT Life Saving TV was not only to create a technology that helps them in their daily lives, but also to raise public awareness of this social issue."