Device Review: WatchMinder by WatchMinder - Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services
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Device Review: WatchMinder by WatchMinder


Reviewed on April 22nd, 2015

By Edmund LoPresti, PhD

Overview

The WatchMinder is a wristwatch which delivers timed reminders using an auditory or vibration alarm and a text message which appears on the watch face. It can deliver three kinds of reminders. First, you can set up to 30 timed alarms ("Reminders") to remind someone of an activity to perform at a specific time (appointments, chores, medication, etc.). Second, you can set "training" messages which repeat multiple times per day, either at fixed intervals (e.g. every 30 minutes) or random intervals (interval randomly selected between 2 and 60 minutes). These can be used for behavioral cues such as paying attention, breathing exercises, pressure relief, etc. Third, you can set a countdown timer (e.g. sound an alarm after 15 minutes; no text message).

Indications

The WatchMinder is appropriate for individuals who have mild-moderate cognitive impairments negatively impacting functional memory, attention and/or initiation abilities within daily routines. The watch is appropriate for individuals who have difficulty learning to use more complex devices. The watch is also appropriate for people who would benefit from a cue that repeats multiple times throughout the day (e.g. behavioral cueing) as well as reminders for specific appointments. The watch is appropriate for individuals who have difficulty remembering to carry other devices from place to place, as it is worn on the wrist. The watch is appropriate for individuals who may be uncomfortable with more high-tech devices and for whom a wristwatch is a familiar, comfortable technology.

Contraindications

The WatchMinder is not appropriate for people who have vision loss or limited literacy which interferes with reading the text messages. The text font is large compared to most wristwatches, but still must fit on a small screen. The user must be able to read the message; reading is more difficult as larger messages will scroll across the screen with only part of the message visible at one time, but the language can be customized to the individual's vocabulary. The auditory alarms are still functional without text messages, but in this case the WatchMinder would have limited benefit over standard alarm wristwatches.

Fine motor limitations could make it difficult to use the small buttons to acknowledge alarms, and even more difficult to use the buttons to program the device.

Some users will have difficulty learning the steps to independently program the device, but may still benefit from receiving the alarms if a support person programs the device.

Criteria

Affordability At the time of this review, the WatchMinder retails for $79. This is less expensive than more high tech devices such as an iPod Touch and comparable with high-end mainstream sports wristwatches but more expensive than some other low-tech memory aids.

Compatibility The WatchMinder does not need to interact with other devices to function, so compatibility is not a problem. Unlike some smart watches which are coming on the market, it is not able to communicate with a computer or mobile device.

Consumer Reparability In our experience, we have not needed to repair the device beyond regular maintenance. If repairs were needed, they would need to be done by the manufacturer.

Dependability In our experience, the watch has been highly dependable.

Durability The WatchMinder has good durability compared with standard wristwatches, and is waterproof.

Ease of Assembly No assembly required.

Ease of Maintenance The primary maintenance tasks are changing the battery and adjusting the time as needed, usually for daylight savings time. Adjusting the time is slightly more complicated than adjusting the time on a standard wristwatch, because the watch has additional functions and the user needs to make sure that he or she is in the correct function for setting the time and not an alarm. Also, as with any wristwatch, setting the time requires the use of small buttons which could be difficult for people with fine motor limitations. With regard to changing the battery, the manual includes instructions for changing the battery but users may want to have the battery changed at the store where they buy the replacement battery (a service offered in many stores where watches and watch batteries are sold). After the battery is changed, it may be necessary to re-enter the user's alarms.

Effectiveness The auditory or vibrating alarm does a good job of getting someone's attention. For someone with fairly good visual and literacy abilities, the text messages can convey simple messages to deliver reminders. Within these constraints, the WatchMinder is quite effective as a basic memory aid. One drawback is that the alarm will only play twice – an initial alarm and, if the user does not response, one snooze alarm 30 seconds later.

Flexibility The WatchMinder can be set to use an auditory alarm or vibrating alarm (or both together), depending on the user's needs. WatchMinder "Reminder" alarms can be set to repeat daily (the default), weekly, monthly, or annually. It does not support patterns such as every other week or weekly on certain days of the week (without creating multiple alarms, e.g. a separate weekly alarm for each desired day of the week). For training messages (those delivered at intervals throughout the day), you can set the start and end times; for example, you might want the watch to randomly provide cues between 8 am and 6 pm but not in the evenings or overnight. The watch comes with a number of preset messages (59 for "reminders" and 19 for "training"), which can save time programming alarms – but there is also the option to define up to 12 personalized "reminders" and up to 3 personalized "training" messages.

Learnability Acknowledging a reminder only requires the user to remember one button to press. This can be a bit confusing, since there are five buttons available. However, for many people who would benefit from basic reminders, this device is easier to learn than other, more complex devices. Programming alarms, however, is somewhat complicated, requiring the user to remember the correct sequences of pressing the watch programming buttons. Some people with cognitive disabilities will be quite capable of entering their schedule with reference to the product manual, but in many cases it will be desirable for schedule entry to be performed by a support person.

Operability As discussed under "Learnability", acknowledging alarms is fairly easy but programming alarms is somewhat difficult. Operability in each case will be much more difficult if the user has fine motor limitations or visual difficulties, as the watch buttons, button labels, and onscreen cues are all small. Personalizing text messages is particularly time consuming, as the user must scroll through the alphabet for each character in the message. Use of the pre-set messages and saving personalized messages are both options to simplify the process. The need to program alarms may be reduced if the watch is used primarily for very consistently scheduled appointments or tasks (e.g. medication).

Personal Acceptability Because the watch looks for the most part like a standard wristwatch, it is generally acceptable for people who are accustomed to using (and being seen with) a wristwatch. There are four color options for the watch band. Some people may have tactile sensitivity to wearing something on their wrist, and may not find a wristwatch acceptable.

Physical Comfort The watch strap is adjustable, and is generally comfortable unless someone is sensitive to wearing anything on his or her wrist.

Physical Security The watch does not pose a threat to the user's security. One exception would be if it fails to deliver high-priority medication reminders; but as mentioned above the watch has generally been found to be dependable, durable, and basically easy to maintain.

Portability Because the WatchMinder is worn on the wrist, it is extremely portable and unlikely to be forgotten over the course of the day (although the user most remember to put it on in the morning).

Securability Because the WatchMinder is worn on the wrist, it is less likely than most devices to be lost or stolen.

Supplier Reparability The watch comes with a one year warranty. Whether the supplier repairs or replaces the watch, it will probably be necessary to re-enter the user's schedule.

Not satisfied at all 

Not very satisfied 

More or less satisfied 

Quite Satisfied 

Very Satisfied


Affordability 

5

Compatibility 

4

Consumer Reparability

3

Dependability 

5

Durability 

5

Ease of Assembly 

5

Ease of Maintenance 

3

Effectiveness 

4

Flexibility 

4

Learnability 

 
  • Acknowledging alarms

4

  • Programming alarms

2

Operability 

 
  • Acknowledging alarms

5

  • Programming alarms

3

Personal acceptability 

4

Physical Comfort 

5

Physical Security

5

Portability 

5

Securability 

5

Supplier Reparability

4

  

 

Average 

4.3