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September 22, 2017

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Taiwan Mobile to introduce smart bracelet for lost seniors

TAIPEI -- Taiwan Mobile Co., the country's second-largest mobile carrier, has taken aim at Taiwan's graying population with a near-field communication (NFC)-capable smart bracelet that promises to help senior citizens find their way home.

When lost, wearers can swipe the bracelets over any NFC-enabled smartphone to alert authorities to their location as pinpointed through GPS, the carrier said Monday.

"This marks the first NFC-based electronic tagging feature in a smart bracelet in Taiwan, and it can raise people's willingness to help find senior citizens who are get lost," Taiwan Mobile President James Jeng told a press conference.

The company plans to distribute an initial 4,000 bracelets for free in Taipei and New Taipei in partnership with the Foundation for the Welfare of the Elderly and in Pingtung County along with the Bjorgaas Social Welfare Foundation.

The bracelets could eventually help the 200,000 senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer's disease in Taiwan, Jeng said.

The Foundation for the Welfare of the Elderly estimated that only 58 percent of Alzheimer's patients who become lost are found within a short period of time, but the smart tagging technology in the bracelet could increase that number to 100 percent.

Alzheimer's, a disease prevalent among the elderly, is a growing concern as Taiwan's population continues to age.

Interior ministry statistics from the end of August last year showed that senior citizens age 65 and older accounted for 11 percent of Taiwan's population. That ratio is likely to grow as life expectancy continues to increase and the local birth rate remains low, the ministry said.

Also at Monday's press conference, Jeng talked about Taiwan Mobile's plans to sell 4G smartphones that support Taiwan's unique 700 MHz frequency, saying his company would launch 10 phones capable of using the frequency in the third quarter of this year, when its 4G network is due to be inaugurated.

The phones include a Taiwan Mobile-branded 4G phone made by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the main manufacturer of Apple Inc.'s iPhones and iPads.

Taiwan Mobile will up its 700 MHz 4G phone selection to as many as 40 models by the end of the year thanks to 4G LTE chips launched by suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc., Jeng said.

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