The Vodafone Espana Foundation, the Spanish Red Cross and Qualcomm, have joined together to launch a project using 3G broadband technology to trial new ways of connecting elderly people in Spain to their family and friends. Called ‘3G Connecting Generations’ the project will use 3G mobile broadband technology to deliver services through voice and videoconferencing using media devices already familiar to them, such as mobile phones and television. Some 180 elderly people will participate in the pilot, of which the majority live alone and far from their families. The initiative also involves family members or day centers from more than 10 provinces in nine independent communities, including, Barcelona, Huesca, Leon, La Palma, Madrid, Salamanca, Toledo, and Valladolid. 3G Connecting Generations was based on the experience gathered by the Spanish Red Cross and the Vodafone Espana Foundation through the PLATAS project, which was financed by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce as part of the 2006-2007 Advance Plan. By using a home video conference system that works as a TV monitor, a webcam and a phone with mobile broadband Internet connectivity (HSPA), elderly people in the project will be able to stay connected and interact with their friends, family and caregivers. The trial will test how improved communications will allow them to remain independent for longer in their own homes. The 3G Connecting Generations project also provides participants’ families with 3G phones to communicate with their elderly family members via video calls. “The elderly are a rapidly growing community in our country,” said Juan Manuel Suarez del Toro Rivero, president of the Spanish Red Cross. “Many of these people need assistance for daily activities and the new technology provides innovative ways to enable them to easily keep in touch with those who care for them and the people they trust.” By using the video conference system, participants in this project can establish personalised video communications with the Spanish Red Cross’s Contact Center, which answers their questions and support them with consistent social interaction. Through the Contact Centre the Red Cross can also conduct personalised follow-up video calls to check the health and well being of participants in the trial. In addition to communicating with the Red Cross and family members, the project enables participants to use their 3G video communication platform to meet and communicate with other people in order to expand their social circle. They can also use the 3G links to download multimedia content, including physical exercise videos and interactive games, designed to help them stay active. The 3G access devices will be made available at selected elderly community day centers, enabling participants to connect with friends when they are unable to access the devices. “The 3G Connecting Generations project not only provides the elderly with tools to lead independent lives, but it also grants access to the latest communications technologies, giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the 21st century,” said Jose Luis Ripoll, president of the Vodafone Espana Foundation. Qualcomm is supporting 3G Connecting Generations through its Wireless Reach initiative, designed to bring 3G technologies to underserved communities around the world. Andrew Gilbert, utive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm Internet Services, said “We are pleased to help the elderly feel more assisted at home and connected to their families. 3G Mobile broadband technology enables these new digital services even in low populated areas, where it would be very difficult and expensive to bring them this type of communication system any other way.”

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