Best Buy offers an array of services for seniors through its Lively brand, and under a new partnership, those will now be available on the Apple Watch.
The services range from helping seniors connect with emergency responders to urgent-care consultations, concierge help and health tracking.
"By offering these powerful safety features on Apple Watch, we're creating a new way to achieve a greater sense of connection and independence for older adults, and added peace of mind for both them and their families," said David Inns, president of active aging at Best Buy Health, in a statement.
Best Buy executives said last week during the Richfield-based company's earnings call that health services would be a big focus this year. Besides helping seniors remain independent through technology, the unit also includes fitness trackers and other devices.
In August, the company named Deborah DiSanzo, a 30-year veteran in health information technology, as the new president of Best Buy Health.
Best Buy's health unit was very small until 2018, when the company made its biggest acquisition ever, the $800 million purchase of GreatCall. With it came call centers that monitor and offer services to seniors across the country, both for people living independently in their homes and those in retirement communities.
The backbone of services through devices is the Lively app. It already works through flip phones, smartphones and the company's own wrist device, which was introduced about a year ago.
The Apple partnership allows Best Buy's Lively app to work through the Apple Watch.
A new feature being introduced soon on Lively will use Apple's fall-detection technology. When it is activated, Apple Watch will be able to detect a hard fall, and then the Live Agent Assist feature will activate a call from the service center and see if the person is OK, and contact family members or emergency responders if necessary.
As with Best Buy's other devices, people will be able to sign up to keep family or friends informed about their health and safety with automatic updates.
The Lively app works on the Apple Watch series 3 and up. Apple's new fall-detection technology will only work on series 4 and up.
GreatCall started developing the Lively brand before the Best Buy merger, when in 2016 it purchased Healthsense, which was based in Mendota Heights.
At the time Best Buy purchased GreatCall, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based firm had annual sales of $300 million and Best Buy said it would contribute "meaningful profits" in the fiscal year that just ended. A Best Buy spokesman said the company is not breaking out financial information on the health unit.
Catherine Roberts • 612-673-4292