Medical Alert System?

Started by varandian, September 15, 2013, 10:40:13 AM

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Here's a thinking "out-of-the-box" question for you guys...

Has anyone created a medical alert system using any of the OBi systems?  I have Google Voice + Anveo's E911 service setup for my grandmother and was wondering if I could somehow connect one of those wireless pendants that the mainstream medical alert systems provide to the Anveo E911 service.  Now *that* would be cool!  ;)


Many of the systems are locked in that the pendant calls their service desk directly. 

If you have a home alarm with central station monitoring, you may be able to acquire wireless controllers that have panic capability to call the central station for little cost (i.e. just the controller since you already pay for monitoring).  Some alarm systems also have 2 way voice.


I would like to get my dad set up with OBi/Google Voice, and I am wondering about their compatibility with paid medical alert systems also. To be clear, I would like to sign him up for a medical alert service, with the pendant that auto dials the monitoring service. Currently, he has no landline - just a cell phone.

Does anyone have successful experience with this, or can explain why it just won't work?



Lots of posts on the forum, and elsewhere, about using VoIP services (like GV) to transmit DATA.  In short, dialing isn't usually the issue.  The OBi device provides the dial tone, the connected box (from the provider) dials the call when the pendant is activated), and then once the system on the other end (not a person) connects, the box on your end tries to transmit data over the line.  This may prove helpful in understanding why it's problematic -

IF the system is answered by a person, no data tones sent, then you MAY be able to use a VoIP provider.  HOWEVER, you need to contact the system provider you are thinking of using and find out if they support VoIP and answer with a human being that then talks from the pendant to your father without any data being transmitted.

Now - why don't you want to do this?  Several reasons:

1) A POTS (plain old telephone service) line is very reliable.  VoIP is not.  Your GV service can go down because:

    a) The internet is down.  Your provider is down, someone cut the cable by accident, the cable modem is having issues, the router is having issues (like Dad pulled the plug by mistake several days ago).

    b) GV is down.  Happens once in a while.

2) Your OBi box locks up and has to be rebooted.

3) Dad unplugs the OBi device by mistake.

In short, I do not recommend that anyone get an OBi device for the elderly, unless it's to SUPPLEMENT a POTS line.  My Mom spends $750 a year on phone service.  She has an alarm system, and she wants unlimited long distance.  She has ZERO technical ability (I'd put NEGATIVE if that made a difference).  Can't figure out that the VCR has no tape in it and that's why her show didn't record.  Has no idea how to program the Comcast DVR she's paying for...  If I got her an OBi device in addition to her POTS line and cut her unlimited long distance, then I would be providing support remotely to her for the OBi, programming it, listening to her complain when it dropped a call, etc.

Do NOT get rid of his POTS line if he has a medical condition, or is elderly and needs RELIABLE PHONE SERVICE.

Since he only has a cell phone, you do realize that if he dials 911 they don't know his address, right?  They can triangulate on his location ROUGHLY, but they don't know where he is.  So, if he can't speak...

Get him a POTS line if he needs a medical alert device.


If you know anyone with low income, you can get a "Lifelife" landline.  My mom has one, and its @$10 a month.

There are 6 main types of landlines
[1] Copper (think Ma Bell)
48vDC power comes from the Central Office.  Massive Lead Acid battery backup
However some phones are serviced by a remote hut / pair gain system.  Remote huts have a relatively small Gel cell battery backup system.  If the batteries run out, the whole hut goes down unless it has backup generator.

[2] some areas there is a box on the side of the house where the dial tone comes from (no inside power required)
[3] some get dial tone thru a jack on the cable modem.  If that is the case, if the power goes out there is a small battery that only gives @3-6 hours of talk time.

[4] Fiber
(requires inside power to operate, although they have battery backups that will provide a few hours of phone talk)

[5] Hybrid
Fiber to your area, then copper or coax to your house
The provider could be a cable company or your traditional telco.

[6] Cellular
Uses a box at your house to pick up a cell signal.  Has a phone jack in the base.  Usually has battery backup for @ 3hours of talk time


It's difficult to guarantee compatibility with VOIP.  They make versions that use celluar technology but you should verify good coverage for those.  They make versions that dial the numbers you choose and play a custom message.  Check out the following search on Ebay.
Auto Dialer For Elderly - No Monthly Charges

Here is a pretty good discussion of the problems of using a system with VOIP.

A good idea might be to just get a cellphone that allows one touch emergency dialing without unlocking the phone.

Long live our new ObiLords!