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Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the set-it-up-once dept.

GUI 194

Milo_Mindbender writes I'm trying to find a bulletproof near zero maintenance video conferencing client for shared use in an Alzheimers living facility. It's used so the patients can regularly see their relatives who are often out of town. Most everything I've tried on PC or Mac requires tweeks/updates from time to time to keep it working, not good in a place where there are no computer savvy people. It looks like most of the low cost dedicated boxes have died out too. The ideal setup will be turnkey with little-to-no maintenance and if possible support auto-answering calls from approved users. It needs to be compatible with video conferencing apps the relatives can easily get on phone/tablet/pc such as Skype, Facetime, Hangouts...etc. Any suggestions?

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WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (4, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | about 2 months ago | (#47593543)

Move the maintainance to something you control and deploy through a browser.

One setup could be:
Crhome/Firefox as VoIP client
SipML5 http://sipml5.org/ [sipml5.org]
Webrtc2sip (see above)
Asterisk for handling the RTP exchange and authentication.

The security aspect is handled by Asterisk via. simple sip.conf, all clients use a webcam + browser and connect through a simple client (see the call.html example at sipml5.org ).

This way you have a linux box somewhere at your control running asterisk, apache and webrtc2sip (needed for dtls proxying); the clients can be a simple kioskmode setup with a webcam and a single page served from your apache.

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47593553)

still need to update the base system as well.

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (2)

Splab (574204) | about 2 months ago | (#47593625)

There is always a weak point.

The way I read OP is he needs something that doesn't need to be maintained at the Alzheimers home.

This setup moves the responsibility to a server of his choice. Granted, if that is too much, he needs to pay someone for doing it, but the suggested setup is a weekends worth of configuring and you are good to go, all updates are automatically handled by clients, you just need to make sure your linux box is up to date and perhaps ensure some sane firewall rules for the OS.

Forget the tech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594511)

They already communicate with each other in their minds and by talking to clouds.

Did Reagan need telecommunications when he ran the country?

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (1)

Technician (215283) | about 2 months ago | (#47593599)

If you don't want to set up and maintain Asterisk in house, there are many SIP servers with Free SIP accounts. Many include free voice mail. One example includes ippi.com. If the solution is in the US, Google Talk with Gmail works and includes video like Skype, but can be tied to Google Voice so clients can get a free phone number and place free calls to phones (voice only), SMS, and voice to text email for missed calls. If residents can log into their own Gmail account, this may be a solution.

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (2)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | about 2 months ago | (#47594789)

I'd simply buy proper hardware SIP phones. Polycom VVX series, Yaelink vp530pn (nice conferencing for 3 or more parties) or something made by Cisco (i haven't played with those). As long as it isn't made by Grandstream, it is practically maintenance free. You just set up a SIP server in the middle or buy the service from a third party.

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clien (-1)

amjohns (29330) | about 2 months ago | (#47593619)

Wow, epic fail at actually reading and meeting the requirements. Including the implied ones!

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clien (-1, Flamebait)

Splab (574204) | about 2 months ago | (#47593655)

Do elaborate mr. know-it-all.

OP says no maintenance at the Alzheimers home, my suggestion needs no intervention on the Alzheimer homes part once it's up and running.

If OP wants something that requires absolutely no setup, no software, no hardware and magic internet rainbows, then he is shit out of luck. But that's not how I read the request.

Also, thanks for joining the debate with zero input.

And Slashdot, seriously? You want us to debate, but will not allow us to make more than one reply every 5 fucking minutes?

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clie (4, Interesting)

amjohns (29330) | about 2 months ago | (#47593689)

Actually, my suggestion is in a separate comment down the page...

But to answer why the above is still a bad idea, it leaves OP on the hook for regular/recurring maintenance. Moreover, it creates a single point of failure if he gets hit by a bus, or just goes on vacation.

When dealing with highly nontechnical users, especially under a high-stress environment such as distant family wanting to talk to failing relatives before they die or can't usefully communicate anymore, any delay or breakdown leads to massive tension- and gets OP called at 2am on Sunday!

Therefore, a 100% COTS soltution is ideal.

Fronkly OP needs to learn to use freakin' google, I found COTS solution, in stock at Best Buy, in ~45sec... There are still supported, stable solutions out there

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clie (1)

Splab (574204) | about 2 months ago | (#47593747)

Do tell how those points are fixed by using a Samsung product.

If he sets that up, he is still on the hook, when some software needs to be updated, when the internet is down or whatever else might get in the way.

Oh and have you actually used samsung products? They are a fucking pain in the arse to setup, my solution pushes updates through the browser using html5 and JS; yes he will need to keep that server running, but that can be outsourced very cheaply and since it's not using proprietary software, codecs and service providers, any part of it can be switched - tired of chrome? use FF or safari (IE will work from next verion as well). Tired of Asterisk? Use FreeSwitch. Don't like the SIP ML5? Well switch to JS SIP.

 

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clie (3, Insightful)

amjohns (29330) | about 2 months ago | (#47594083)

I know I'm gonna get modded down for this - so be it:

Typical /. radical evangelism for open source, at all costs (metaphorically, not $$), without regard for the whole of the circumstances.

If there was a dedicated IT team, fine. If this was just OP and his grandma only, fine. Any of several circumstances, fine. But that's NOT the case!

Here we have lot of users, you MUST have dedicated support, and OP can't (trust me, I've been in this situation) provide that 24/7 long-term. And keep that server running, but that can be outsourced very cheaply is a delusion. Who's gonna pay for the next X years?? IT Consultants aren't cheap, and any upgrades that break things will be costly to repair, while being an outage for the users.

In a situation like this, COTS, with consumer support available and used to dealing with non-technical users (you know, the helpdesk script monkeys that piss US off...), is the way to go.

just too good... (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 2 months ago | (#47594143)

Splab, you should get some kind of Golden Raspberry Webby Award...

Oh and have you actually used samsung products? They are a fucking pain in the arse to setup, my solution...

example of "dork" thinking ruining tech (5, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 2 months ago | (#47594071)

Splab, thank you.

Thank you for giving us an a *perfect* example, in the wild, of *exactly* how techies answer questions condescendingly & with making big assumptions, but most importantly, demonstrating you have a high level of technical knowledge, but not ***ACTUALLY FIXING THE PROBLEM***

People like you have been making tech obnoxious for decades, and it needs to stop. /. bear witness:

OP says no maintenance at the Alzheimers home, my suggestion needs no intervention **on the Alzheimer homes part** once it's up and running.

If OP wants something that requires **absolutely no setup, no software, no hardware and magic internet rainbows, then he is shit out of luck**. But that's not how I read the request.

It is perfect. All the elements are there. This kind of response typifies interactions between people with tech problems and those who claim to be able to fix them.

First, obviously OP was asking about **low maintenence for everyone** not just one subset. This is the language voodoo. Conjuring a dichotomy of meaning where there is none.

2nd, we see the dork/troll complete the circle by insinuating that OP was ("obviously!") being unreasonable thinking they could get something at required **absolutely** no maintenence...for that he's, of course, "shit out of luck"

But OP didn't as for "absolutely no maintenence"...but for the dork/troll that doesn't matter. This whole thing was a way for parent to demonstrate superiority by dropping some jargon & then making the original person out to be dumb for ever asking the question.

***WE MUST STOP DOING THIS FOREVER***

It's ruining our industry, and our work life quality. People hate a person who (having demonstrated their technical knowledge by dropping jargon) wastes their time.

When people need help, it's wrong to use that as an opportunity to make yourself look smarter. It only makes everything worse, and it causes the other person to hate you and tech in general.

Just stop. Forever. The whole routine...let's just end it...

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clien (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 months ago | (#47594573)

The ideal setup will be turnkey with little-to-no maintenance and if possible support auto-answering calls from approved users.

OP says no maintenance at the Alzheimers home, my suggestion needs no intervention on the Alzheimer homes part once it's up and running. If OP wants something that requires absolutely no setup, no software, no hardware and magic internet rainbows, then he is shit out of luck. But that's not how I read the request.

Well first of all he asked for a turnkey solution, which is pretty much the opposite of a DIY project. If someone took a small fanless box, cobbled together these open source projects, configured them and created a nice little administration UI and manual/troubleshooting instructions for sale you'd be pretty close to a turnkey solution but this would basically be his custom client-server setup that only an expert could maintain. Which brings us to the second point, he asked for little-to-no maintenance full stop. Adding a server and hosting hardly sounds like low maintenance, it adds complexity to what seems like a very basic direct videophone call. Surely one of those has the basic contact management to handle this? This seems mostly like a lazy man's "I'll let /. Google it for me instead of doing my own research" question.

Re: WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP clien (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593679)

Chromebox for meetings is maintenance free and comes with a remote anyone can use!

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 2 months ago | (#47594489)

This has to be the worst possible setup for a low maintenance reliable system. Is it possible to make it any more complicated?

Re:WebRTC, Asterisk/FreeSwitch and a JS SIP client (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594987)

This has to be the worst possible setup for a low maintenance reliable system. Is it possible to make it any more complicated?

Submitter should write his own conferencing software so he can make it compatible. Also, it should be AGPL3+ and be written in Common LISP. (Also, why not just use X11? It's been able to do this for decades.)

Seriously though, it's a shame that the big tech companies are still trying to 'own' the market on (video) chat. We need to find them something else to move on to, so they can standardize video chat.

via (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594647)

P.S. “via” is not an abbreviation and is not written with a dot.

Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47593545)

Have a full time tech on site with that and bill each patient health insurance a monthly or daily or per use fee.

That is how most things healthcare marketplace work.

Re:Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 months ago | (#47593879)

I have never seen an insurance plan that covers communications from the ill or aged with someone else . Please elaborate if you have.

Re:Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47593889)

Well we just bulk bill it as some other thing or change the home and they deal with the billing.

Re:Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594061)

Well we just bulk bill it as some other thing or change the home and they deal with the billing.

But if you are willing to commit fraud, why stop at $50k? Just double it, and you can also afford to put a swimming pool in your backyard.

Re:Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 months ago | (#47593987)

>"Have a full time tech on site with that and bill each patient health insurance a monthly or daily or per use fee. That is how most things healthcare marketplace work."

I work in healthcare, and no insurance company is going to cover such things unless it was legitimately part of a communications rehab program or something (supervised by a speech pathologist).

>"Well we just bulk bill it as some other thing or change the home and they deal with the billing."

That sounds remarkably like fraud which can lead to fines, closed businesses, and people thrown in jail.

VNC + VPN (1)

Meneth (872868) | about 2 months ago | (#47593555)

I might set up a computer with a VNC server, so that you can maintain it remotely. To make the machine addressable, you can use dynamic DNS or a VPN.

Re:VNC + VPN (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47593567)

But that may not work to well at a site with a some what locked down firewall / router with limited port forwarding

Re:VNC + VPN (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 2 months ago | (#47593823)

You can use Teamviewer or similar for maintenance. I've found that Oovoo is one of the easier video calling platforms available, install and turn off any automatic updates on the computer.

The problem is not just at the care facility end, but with all of the families and friends who may call. You could set up one account for the whole home, and anyone who wanted to video call would have to arrange a time in advance.

Polycom (1)

Space (13455) | about 2 months ago | (#47593557)

Take a look at Polycom's RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite. It is supposed to be an interface between their dedicated video conference boxes and Skype, Google Talk Video, etc. I haven't used it myself.

Video phones? (4, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | about 2 months ago | (#47593573)

Or how about you just buy the video phones like
http://www.sophiesystems.com/g... [sophiesystems.com]
There are some that are skype compatible. You can then encourage the families to buy a video phone or if they are tech savy they could skype as well.

Re:Video phones? (2)

magarity (164372) | about 2 months ago | (#47593711)

Definitely - there are plenty of phone options that do NOT require a PC adding complexity.

Re:Video phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593737)

Seconded - a video phone will be specifically designed to avoid update prompts. Use a screwdriver when you need a screwdriver.

Re: Video phones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594213)

This. A thousand times this.

What device is used by billions of people daily and it rarely fails? The telephone. It's had decades to get perfected. Video phones (I like Polycoms VVX series) can be centrally managed, locked down so the end users can't break them, and work just like a phone.

Re:Video phones? (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 2 months ago | (#47594581)

The families do not have to buy a video phone. They can use a PC based client. No need to use Skype.

Re:Video phones? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 months ago | (#47594957)

There are some that are skype compatible. You can then encourage the families to buy a video phone or if they are tech savy they could skype as well.

That's what I did, and Skype/Microsoft grew tired of the old protocol version and it stopped working after about two years. They either killed their embedded edition or the vendor (Grandstream) didn't want to license it to update old phones. Same thing happened to me with proprietary D-Link devices before that - I figured going Skype would avoid the problem, but silly me.

I guess they still work as SIP devices, but as videoconferencing devices for older folks to use, they failed in less than two years. Not exactly zero maintenance.

WebRTC might actually be the best bet, but it's early in the cycle to make a great guess. Proprietary stuff will certainly become obsolete.

Keep it COTS! (3, Informative)

amjohns (29330) | about 2 months ago | (#47593601)

You're dealing with nontechnical folks at both ends... You want ease of use and commercial customer support

Easy answer: Smart TV w/ Skype camera. Here's Samsung's version [samsung.com]

Re:Keep it COTS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593981)

Have you ever typed a password using the tv's interface? My a** screamed from pain.
There was a better solution but I can't seems to be able to remember it... oh wait.

Re:Keep it COTS! (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 months ago | (#47594603)

There was a better solution but I can't seems to be able to remember it... oh wait.

A smartcard? They're used on satellite decoder boxes at least (and I remember seeing a "fraudulent", "diy" one used)

Re:Keep it COTS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594195)

I like this idea (as well as the video phone recommendation). They can answer with the remote control. They are probably laying in bed already watching tv anyway. The TVs will update themselves and it's essentially a screen (which they already stare at) and a webcam and that's it. Cost? I don't know what smart tvs cost right now.

Also, at the risk of being scolded, Would an Rpi be appropriate here? Chromebooks? Chromebooks are super cheap. So are tablets for that matter. I would think that Rpi would be easier to remotely configure than Android but Android can run for quite a while with very little updating but they have to remember to charge (and not LEAVE charging) the devices.

Keep it COTS! (1)

wirefarm (18470) | about 2 months ago | (#47594871)

Our family tried those. We bought 2 of them to talk to mom, but while they work for a while, they seem to just die after a few days. Sure, a reboot, reconnect to wifi and re-login sets it all good again, but that's a lot to ask.

We went with regular skype on an old thinkpad.

Do yourself a favor and install TeamViewer as well.

FaceTime (5, Informative)

orlanz (882574) | about 2 months ago | (#47593623)

An iPad with FaceTime. Sorry, but this is really the simplest one out there. Setup an MDM on it for remote management.

Create an app that posts family pictures that with a click will call them. Or it can hook into the fingerprint reader and call the right family. Or, get a personal iPad for each patient and set it up in their room and have the MDM only allow Facetime to the family.

If you are talking about hundreds of iPads, then even Apple will help you setup all this.

Re: FaceTime (1)

halo1982 (679554) | about 2 months ago | (#47593639)

Yeah this is really the only answer to the question.

Re:FaceTime (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 months ago | (#47593673)

...or Skype. Yeah I know it now belongs to the Borg, but it still works.

FaceTime (2)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 months ago | (#47593675)

Yea, because those MDMs work without a hitch an nothing ever goes wrong with an iPad. There is also no possibility the patients would suffer from anything like arthritis that might make holding it up or using the small onscreen controls difficult. They also never run out of power or suffer from battery degradation over time.

Use the Samsung TV method above, nice big screen, loud speakers to compensate for hearing or vision loss.

Honestly, not every solution is an iPad or an Apple product.

Re:FaceTime (1, Informative)

orlanz (882574) | about 2 months ago | (#47593783)

Right... cause everyone HAS to hold an iPad to use it. Cause iPads can't be plugged in like TVs. Cause iPads can't integrate into a sound system. Cause Alzheimers patients far enough along to require assisted living will remember how to undo any channel changes or plug cords that get pulled.

Personally, I don't integrate into Apple products in my house or my families'. I have a mix of Androids, Cromecast, Windows, and Apple. However, I have seen the pure iPhone side and when you see the requirements of the submitter, there really is no solution that fits it better than Apple. The submitter doesn't need the flexibility, features, and cost savings at the cost of complexity that the other solutions offer.

Is the iPad the perfect solution, no. But for what the submitter wants, it is far better than anything else on the market. Overall, from a simplistic ecosystem view point, Apple just does it better. Shit just works. There really is no close challenger. Samsung has no focus in this direction, and Microsoft is probably 4-5 years away.

Re:FaceTime (1)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 months ago | (#47593927)

Right... cause everyone HAS to hold an iPad to use it. Cause iPads can't be plugged in like TVs. Cause iPads can't integrate into a sound system. Cause Alzheimers patients far enough along to require assisted living will remember how to undo any channel changes or plug cords that get pulled.

Wait so your solution to the simple wireless ipad - better because it does not need cords plugged in - is to plug cords and devices into it making it way more complicated. Have you heard yourself. A smartTV is also soooo complex, with the single power lead, the built in wifi and camera on some models. It is all of two button presses on the remote to get to Skype and it is not like there are not nurses about that would be helping anyway. Add to that, the latest gen ones take voice and gesture input so a nurse would not even need the remote if they did not want to.

Put the thing on a trolley or mounted in a room or the lounge and you're sorted. You can even get wireless keyboards if you really want to type in the Skype names even though that would be unnecessary.

Re:FaceTime (2)

orlanz (882574) | about 2 months ago | (#47594361)

Sound integration systems actually do it via a very simple cradle in the Apple ecosystem. My buddy's apartment complex has a community area with multiple wall & flat table ports that accept iPhones. You just pop it in, and that zone (or more) now has your library playing in it. You can simply redirect the audio to a different zone like the gym, pool, bbq, or sky deck with a single button. The wall ports also have enough space to just store an Android that just hooks to an audio cable. And this is in addition to the mobile wireless integration. The flat screens have Apple TVs that you can swipe in audio & video to/from the iPads or iPhones.

I have seen Samsung & use a LG SmartTV interface, they are ok but less intuitive than the Apple ecosystem. Also, the level of 3rd party hardware integrators for the Apple ecosystem it is far better than the SmartTVs. The Apple ecosystem is just more stable than the SmartTV ecosystem and less difficult to setup and manage. Of course there is a price here but it isn't that much higher than a full audio/video integration system. And the difference is hardly noticed in Healthcare field budgets.

Personally, I have a Plex+linux+home theater+LG+Android+iOS+Windows+Insteon integration in my house. I like the flexibility it offers. But its not a system I would give my parents, the office, or even my semi-techie sibling. The formers will never get it no matter how many times I teach them. The later doesn't see the value of the complexity.

Re: FaceTime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594915)

have you ever even used one of those crappy samsung smart-tvs? ease of use, simple two buttons for skype,... - hell, the one of my parents even got two remotes with a lot of non-overlapping functions. and you need to go through loads of visually unnecessary complex and unintuitive menus to do anything on them.

not sure if an ipad is ideal in this situation, but it beats the "smart"tv by a long shot when it comes to usability (which is unfortunate, because those samsungs would have such nice hardware)

Re: FaceTime (1)

s4m7 (519684) | about 2 months ago | (#47594049)

Just from a compatibility standpoint... I know iPads can work with Skype, google hangouts, etc. is a samsung smart tv compatible with FaceTime?

Re:FaceTime (4, Insightful)

rworne (538610) | about 2 months ago | (#47593707)

For distant relatives that were not tech savvy, I did this. Worked very well over the years with several times a week usage. The iPad 2 that was left there was loaded with iOS 5 and was not able to do the on-air updates Apple pushes out now.

It worked fine until I had a chance to visit at the end of last year where I updated it to iOS 7 and the latest everything. Still works.

This is about as bulletproof as you can get. Even the UI (once FaceTime is set up properly) is easy to manage. It chimes with the name of the caller, swipe and you are talking.

Added bonuses are:
Lots of people already own Apple devices, so they have everything they need.
You can use the lowest model offered by Apple (iPad 2, non-retina mini) to keep the costs down as much as possible.
Devices can be locked down as much as desired
Development costs are cheap, you can get a dev license for $99 and roll out your own app ad-hoc (but you will have to renew and redeploy once a year before the dev cert expires). Still, no app is really necessary.

Re: FaceTime (1)

amjohns (29330) | about 2 months ago | (#47593719)

Build a fixed mounting kiosk so it doesn't walk, use the MDM to lockdown apps, etc, and it's golden.

family pictures? for alzheimers patients? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593787)

Posting AC, so I don't undo the moderation I've already done.

Create an app that posts family pictures that with a click will call them.

The rest of your comment is fine, but for Alzheimers patients, this is a complete waste of time. We've had to stop bringing my grandmother to large family functions, as she gets so confused and possibly frustrated when she doesn't recognize anyone. (luckily, my cousin's daughter is good at telling when she's getting frustrated, and distracts her with hugs).

We were all together for Thanksgiving a few years ago when she asked my mom who she was, and my mom replied 'I'm your daughter' to which my grandmother replied 'You can't be my daughter, you're old'. Mind you, my mom goes up and visits her for lunch almost every week, so it's not like her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who she would've have seen for a few months. At one point that night, she said that she was going to do a cartwheel, after seeing her great-granddaughter show off that she had learned how to do one. (I managed to convince her that there wasn't enough room, as she was twice the height)

I've heard other stories from folks ... one in which his mom (might've been grandmother) was hitting on him ... which has got to be disturbing, but we're hoping it was just that he reminded her of her dead husband, and she's in a similar situation of not being aware just what age she is.

So ... this might be a great idea for a general retirement community -- but for Alzheimers patients, like my 90 year old grandmother who is now kept in a locked wing after wandering off (she was going to visit her parent ... who have been dead for 40+ years) ... you'd be better off labeling the phone numbers so the staff know who the people are. (eg. 'Mary Smith's son Joe'). ... and I'm not even sure that video conferencing is a good idea for Alzheimer patients. The only good thing is that by *not* taking her out of the nursing home, you don't have to deal with the issues of her not believe that's where she's been living for the last 8 year when you take her back.

Re:family pictures? for alzheimers patients? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594769)

I sympathize with your experiences with your grandmother. My grandmother (passed away now) had Alzheimers as well and spent her last 10ish years in a retirement community.

I too was surprised at the time to see almost the same pattern of memory loss, but have heard a good number of anecdotal stories saying the same. In a lot of cases memory loss tends to be "backward" from expected, in that the oldest memories go first while newer ones still remain to an extent.

My family is pretty tiny these days. Grandma had two children, one being my mother, the other my only remaining uncle.
Of course she raised her children way back before I was even a thing, but later on was a large part of my life too and helped raise me.
As late as when I was in middle school she still kept me over summer breaks pretty much the whole time so my mother could work two jobs (plus it felt like a mini vacation each year) however I was quite prominent in her life at that time.

After she started having memory problems, the very first person she forgot was my mother, who was around more often than my uncle even if only relatively speaking. But soon after she only recognized my uncle sometimes and not at all others.

The strange (to me) part was she never forgot my face as someone she knew, and remembered my name longer than anyone elses.
There was also a period where she still always recognized me, but half the time knew it was me, and the other half thought I was her son, yet didn't recognize his picture what so ever.

Anyways, sorry for the off topic ramble, I just wanted to share that.

FaceTime (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | about 2 months ago | (#47593819)

It's a nice idea, but it requires the calling party to have a Mac or iOS device to call in from. I would have thought they need a solution that would support PC users as well.

Re:FaceTime (0)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 months ago | (#47593881)

Shh, this isn't about the solution its about forcing more Apple shit into the market. So what if it isolates people from their families, at least the Appleites are getting some more fuel for their religion.

I have dealt with Apple crap through a number of MDMs including their own PoS offering and while they can work it takes a ton of effort to get around all the stupid nonsence. Kiosk mode Skype probably would work.

To the idiot who was complaining that the tv would have too many cables then recommended plugging in the ipad to a sound system and a TV perhaps an all in one device with all that would work better. I'm sure they have nurses too so either solution would probably work fine depending on them.

Re: FaceTime (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 2 months ago | (#47594865)

It's a nice idea, but it requires the calling party to have a Mac or iOS device to call in from. I would have thought they need a solution that would support PC users as well.

If only there were a way that you could install cross platform third party apps like Skype or Yahoo Messenger on the iPad.....

Re: FaceTime (1, Insightful)

s4m7 (519684) | about 2 months ago | (#47594075)

Much as I hate to shill for Apple, this is the correct answer. iPads do silent updates and don't complain much if they cannot. They have tremendous battery life and the simplest power connector ever. Works with all services, interface simplicity cannot be bested. The smart tv solution would probably work too, but there's more room for problems to arise. Not sure how the costs break down but this would even work with used iPads if you need to keep costs down.

Does not exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593643)

Technology is constantly changing, forget the term "near zero maintenance" as the obsolescent nature of the industry is guaranteed to screw you over at some point.
I would install Skype or whatever comm client is simplest/cheapest to use, and spend the time educating the unsavvy to use it. In the end everyone benefits.

Re:Does not exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593687)

Good luck teaching the elder new technology, let alone an Alzheimer's patient.

This whole submission reads like someone trying to outsource his own job.

Re: Does not exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593735)

OP didn't say that the patient(s) lived alone (which is unlikely), so I understood it was a nursing home or at least a private domicile with a nurse. The staff wouldn't be tech savvy.

Online, free, very simple solution (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593651)

https://appear.in/

No account is necessary. You only need to send the other party (or parties) the name of the room.
Firefox, Chrome of Opera are currently necessary I believe.

Service is free, there is currently no ad. I don't know what is there business model and how long they'll be able to sustain it, but it looks like they got video-conferencing right.

Cisco? (1)

jddj (1085169) | about 2 months ago | (#47593685)

Cisco has been working hard to productize video conferencing, and has hardware and software solutions for it, from telepresence suites down to desk phones with screens, as well as applications.

Don't know all about the fit and price, but probably worth a look: might beat a duct-taped solution where no onsite maintenance is required.

Re:Cisco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593749)

Cisco has been working hard to productize video conferencing, and has hardware and software solutions for it, from telepresence suites down to desk phones with screens, as well as applications.

Don't know all about the fit and price, but probably worth a look: might beat a duct-taped solution where no onsite maintenance is required.

Having dealt with Cisco for the last few years in this area, avoid them like the plague. Buggy as shit, licensing is a nightmare, and their support is useless. We are dumping everything but switches/routers from Cisco over their terrible service and shit product.

Skype on Xbox one (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#47593715)

Get an Xbox one with Kinect and set up a shared skype account on it. The camera even moves and zooms automatically to whoever is talking

Re:Skype on Xbox one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593775)

Simple and elegant. I like it.

Re:Skype on Xbox one (1)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 months ago | (#47593955)

Nice but it's a totally viable smart solution, is not an Apple or Linux product and worst of all is a Microsoft product. Be prepared to be modded to hell for this one, this site is not about good answers anymore.

Re:Skype on Xbox one (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 months ago | (#47594983)

The problem with this one isn't that it doesn't use the right brand, but it requires a TV be on Xbox Skype 24/7. Wanna watch TV? No Skype. Some of the others (like the iPad ones) don't require a re-purposing of a large shared resource to run.

Find out how much the home charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593723)

Once you know how much the home charges per patient and month, consider whether you still want to do the work on the cheap and end up supporting the result for free.

Linux (0)

seyfarth (323827) | about 2 months ago | (#47593765)

Linux runs Skype and Google+ Hangouts. I can't vouch for Facetime. Ubuntu works well with automatic updates and can be administered remotely as needed. The user interface needs to have icons on the desktop for the needed programs. I would use kubuntu since I have never liked Unity.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593857)

One of his requirements was "tweeks/updates from time to time to keep it working, not good in a place where there are no computer savvy people". Introducing desktop Linux in that kind of scenario would be a nightmare.

I have an alternate suggestion (3, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 2 months ago | (#47593777)

Stop arming seniors afflicted with alzheimers.

meet.jit.si (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593785)

http://meet.jit.si/your_group_... [meet.jit.si]

zero setup, just need to open the url in a browser.

in its infancy but webrtc is the future.

meet.jit.si is just the demo site, you can run your own videobidge.

Did something like this recently (1)

Jmstuckman (561420) | about 2 months ago | (#47593911)

I did something like this recently with Skype and Ubuntu 13.10. You can set up auto-login on Ubuntu, auto-start on Skype, and set up Skype to auto-answer and auto-activate the camera. In theory, it could get torpedoed by some kind of random dialog box, but it hasn't happened in two months. To make a it a little more bulletproof, you could set up a cron job that reboots the system nightly.

One warning: since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, the standard Skype login dialog was replaced with some kind of weird integration to Microsoft's outlook.com single-sign-on. When Microsoft is having system problems (like they were a couple months ago), it appears to lose all of the single-sign-on tokens, which will drop the system back to the login page, and you will be stuck. However, this only happened once in the past couple months. (Yes, things worked far better before Microsoft bought Skype, but it's not a lost cause.)

Minimal maintenance? (2)

E-Sabbath (42104) | about 2 months ago | (#47593921)

Easy for the elderly to see? You'll need a large screen. So get a large screen of the kind they're used to seeing. Use a television.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com]
This Logitech camera has Skype built right into it, plugs in via HDMI. What more could you ask for?

Re:Minimal maintenance? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47594449)

Compatibility with a standard like h323 video conferencing. Would be a great start. Skype only = locked in.

Google isnt bad. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 months ago | (#47593939)

Google's offering for video conferencing, albeit through plus, ive found to be really reliable. I am however at a loss for a solution to the problem of all those bullets whizzing through the house though...

Seriously? (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 months ago | (#47593943)

You want low cost AND no maintenance AND compatibility with existing systems?

Sorry, you're SOL. There is no such thing, never was, and never will be. Even non-low-cost systems require at least some maintenance.

At the absolute minimum, you will need an on-premise machine with some kind of VPN access so that you can remote in and perform updates. You can do that with windows or linux.

What you require can't be given via a slashdot q&a. There are too many options, and too many give 'n take decisions that need to be made. Is it video conference only? Do you want to support instant messaging? What platforms will the system support on the families' sides? What hardware and how much bandwidth is available at the facility? How much are you willing to pay for monthly service contracts and maintenance? If you want Facetime, then you *have* to use a Mac, or iPad or something.

Your best bet is to talk to a telecom consultant who can help you out. But you're going to have to adjust your expectations because what you want is physically impossible.

Logitech Skype device (4, Interesting)

Bowdie (11884) | about 2 months ago | (#47593947)

Take a look at the Logitech Skype TV box. No computer to speak of, just plugs into a HDMI and Network (they do a wifi version)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Logite... [amazon.co.uk]

hope that helps.

Re:Logitech Skype device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594275)

Cool

Units? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593953)

http://www.voipsupply.com/telyhd

Get an iMac. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593969)

Get an iMac, nice sized screen, you can lock it down. You can also use screenconnect with it phoning home to your screenconnect server so you can maintain it remotely, doesn't matter if it's IP changes. Then that gives you the option of Skype or FaceTime or google hangouts. Depending on what family has.

Using screenconnect, you could also set it up to screensaver through photo galleries that the patients might enjoy, like the Grand Canyon or other things they might remember from the past if family photos are too emotional.

You can also do offsite training for staff if needed using screenconnect. If they manage to forget how to do something.

Maintenance (3, Insightful)

machine321 (458769) | about 2 months ago | (#47593979)

If you don't want to maintain a system, then don't deploy it. Either pay someone to maintain it for you, or plan to maintain it yourself. You seem to want to be a hero and give unknowing non-technical users a complex system and then abandon it because it takes too much time.

How I did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593991)

1. turnkeylinux.org (ejabberd)

2. Made it as a VM first to get the hang of it. Broke it a few times etc. Then used an old duocore, 80 gb drive, 4gb ram.
Set up a VALID certificate. Plenty of tutorials available. Final fix was a pesky LF&CR in pem file (again read). Since there are potentially some HIPAA issues do get a real cert! Some are free.

3. Point the ports from the router to the ejabberd box and you are in business.

4. I vpn through the router and use the preinstalled web pages to configure anything I need. user accounts are done by the staff. I did it pro bono.

5. Jitsi was my client of choice, your own mileage may vary. For the residents I use linux (use what you want) it's virtually bulletproof. Last uptime I checked was 8 months. Eat your heart out MS.

Stick a picture of a face on a monitor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47593995)

And tell them that it's a relative - should work with Alzheimer's sufferers

Chrome for meetings? (1)

Pastis (145655) | about 2 months ago | (#47594129)

http://www.google.no/intl/en/c... [google.no] That s what I think Google uses internally. It should be stable... Never used it in that form...

Re:Chrome for meetings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594239)

I cannot get the appeal of this for $999 when I do this everyday in my browser for free. High def video? Ekiga, also free and open source (no Google spying).

I'm evaluating http://www.clariscompanion.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594165)

So far it's got the features I'm looking for, price point is OK.

Biscotti TV (1)

CityZen (464761) | about 2 months ago | (#47594219)

I've been looking for something similar myself. I was using the Logitech Revue until they shut down their Vid service.

The Biscotti has many good traits:
1. Has HDMI passthrough so no need to switch inputs if TV normally stays on a particular HDMI input.
2. Can overlay calling notification.
3. Can switch on the TV via CEC if needed.
4. Can be set to auto-answer.
5. Compatible with SIP and various standards.

Unfortunately, it's not perfect. You don't want to put it on a hot TV, or it might overheat.
Sometimes it has issues and needs to be rebooted by unplugging/replugging.
Recently, it looked like Biscotti's servers were down for a bit, so calls couldn't go through.
But aside from these typical kinds of issues, it's the best solution I've found so far.

Re:Biscotti TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594329)

raspberry pi + a custom distro can do this. Then you don't have to update the RPi, or you can use the debian based updates.

WebRTC: r00my.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594221)

Easieast secure 2-click video conferencing

blujeans or gotomeeting (1)

raind (174356) | about 2 months ago | (#47594247)

Supports any hardware

Bulletproof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594351)

Who wants to shoot at Alzheimer patients? Foolproof seems more useful.

Bulletproof? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47594439)

Polycom or Cisco. Nice devices that work great and cane even be automated.

Problem is no nursing home will pay for them.

video phone (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 2 months ago | (#47594459)

Get a video phone, such as: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KO... [amazon.com]

In the Alzheimers facility the phone is used just like a regular phone.

bulletproof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594475)

I've heard of bulletproof glass, but not video conferencing. Have you looked at polycarbonate, thermoplastic, and layers of laminated glass?

Just help them use a tablet they buy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594497)

I do all sorts of PBX, UC solutions, entreprisey stuff for people. Why does OP want/need to do this for his residents at all? It doesn't fit.

From a "nice guy" standpoint, OP could set them up with an iPad or Android tablet of their choice and add a few contacts of their kids and grandkids.

Something tells me this might be with a view towards monetizing video communication through a per month fee for rented tablets or something. In which case, OP should cough up the money and buy pro grade gear. But there is a simpler way - find out what grandma's daughter uses, buy her one of those and set it up once.

Also, it has the added convenience of having absolutely nothing to do with a telephone, that still always works, and little Billy can tell granny what to press on her fancy iPad to get Facetime working.

For me, old people and tech is like this - their kids are their tech support because they use it better than them and the old folks know it. That's good enough for them and when that works, leave it alone!

Thoughts (4, Interesting)

jon3k (691256) | about 2 months ago | (#47594519)

I work in IT in LTPAC (nursing and rehab). This is something we've discussed many times. The best model we've found is a TV with Skype (either PC or SmartTV) on a cart. Family schedules a time and staff (eg CNA) brings cart into the room and answers call. I'm in a higher acuity environment most likely (mostly SNF, some ALF) so this might not be ideal for your environment. We do have "Memory Care Units" at some locations. Generally it's a specific hall that has some additional accommodations (read: Wanderguard).

Reply to this post with contact info if you'd like to discuss in detail. I can talk to our reimbursement folks, but I believe this is billable via Medicare and Medicaid.

Re:Thoughts (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 2 months ago | (#47594605)

Why can't you use a video phone?

Maybe Apache OpenMeetings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47594521)

Might be worth checking out Apache's OpenMeetings [apache.org] . That comes with the advantage of being a run-your-own-server solution.

Is it really that complicated? (2)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 2 months ago | (#47594533)

If there were only a simple low cost low maintenance device that could do FaceTime, Skype etc. that costs less than $299 was portable, automatically updated itself, and was foolproof. I wander when someone will invent such a device. It wouldn't even need a keyboard and it could be wireless! It could have a front facing camera and be a simple touch screen device.

Nahh we will never see something that simple in our lifetime....

That's easy! (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 months ago | (#47594553)

That's easy!

Start with a computer that doesn't need tweaks/updates from time to time, and then add video conferencing software that allows you to not upgrade it in order to support new platforms because the basic protocol never changes, but is already ubiquitous on every platform someone might want to use, and get it all from a vendor who has no monetary interest in forced updates!

Windows + Skype + Chrome Remote Desktop (2)

stefd (3773743) | about 2 months ago | (#47594821)

I use Skype on the remote Windows laptop; the patient has only to start the computer (unless you want to keep it on full time). Then I use chrome remote desktop to reply to my own Skype call, do updates etc.
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