There is a growing availability of surveillance technologies (ST) that could be employed by people with dementia and carers to promote independence and safety (Niemeijer et al., 2010). Marketers recognize the importance of ST and numbers of such products are increasing accordingly (Wan et al., 2016). However little research has been concerned with what people with dementia and carers need in ST (Lauriks et al., 2007).
This study outlines the nature of the international surveillance market. A scoping literature review identified users' needs and experiences with ST and an online scan evaluated the marketing messages emanating from such providers of ST products.
The identified needs and challenges of individual users of ST were not reflected in the marketing messages of the providers themselves. Hence a mismatch between needs and marketing messages is apparent. Such a gap not only creates concerns for policy prioritising technology as the main solution to the social challenges of assisting care, but can also become a concealed manifestation of unequal power. ST for people with dementia are universal products also targeted to subordinated groups of prisoners, children, and animals. This represents a hidden dimension of power which should be recognised in research, and its effects challenged. One proposed counteraction would be to adopt research protocols that require such products are based on the identified needs of the target group rather than extrapolating from general principles. Protocols could reduce any imbalance in power and help develop technologies that actually meet the challenges surrounding dementia.