TV programs usually ask you to “stay tuned” – but with this new service rolled out by Nippon Television Network Corp. (NTV) which alerts your relatives if you haven’t changed the channel for long periods of time, it might not be a good idea. The Japanese broadcaster is offering a host of services that they hope will be beneficial to senior citizens, such as alerting family members if they fail to change the channel for extended periods.
NTV’s assumption is, of course, that normal human interaction (e.g. one who is alive) would entail changing channels at some point in time. Part of NTV’s services also gives elderly viewers real-time information about disasters and times of emergency, giving them instructions on how and when to move to a safer place, all with the help of information on their TV screens. This “Big Brother-like” service is the brainchild NTV and done in cooperation with call center company Telecomedia Inc. They also solicited help and cooperation from local governments and non-profit groups, especially in southwestern Japan where the new services will be rolled out.
The technology for these services have been around for almost a year now – it is essentially a Nippon Television product that links Facebook to television programming, initially allowing friends to share impressions of a particular show in real-time. But now NTV has come up with a range of other services that may be helpful, especially to the elderly, which makes use of the same software. It is already common knowledge that Japan’s population is one that is growing older in average age – the number of citizens aged 65 and above is expected to increase to over 30% of the population in the next two decades. This has given local governments a lot of challenges when evacuating older residents, as they learned in the March 2011 disasters. NTV’s choice of Tokushima in southwestern Japan is also towards that fact – as studies have shown that the prefecture could suffer significant damage if an earthquake hits the Nankai fault-line located just offshore in the Pacific Ocean.
The elderly can subscribe to the new services by registering their information, which includes their specific medical needs. This will help the service inform them about the best evacuation routes in the case of an emergency. Major disasters may not occur anytime soon, but the possibility of an elderly viewer needing assistance is still very much likely to come up. NTV’s service will also alert family members with a call if a user did not change channel for a while, or if their watching habits became unusual. The family members can then contact their elderly relative, or even send them a message directly via the television. After the roll out in Tokushima, NTV is looking to introduce these services nationwide.
[via Wall Street Journal]