Technology that helps the aged stay home

A more cost-effective, practical solution than robots --- for now
November 15, 2012

 

(Credit: stock image)

University of Adelaide computer scientists are developing a network of sensors attached to objects and AI software to track what a senior is doing — a practical, low-cost solution for helping older people to keep living independently and safely in their own homes.

The researchers are adapting radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other sensor technologies to automatically identify and monitor human activity, and determine if an individual’s normal routine is being maintained or interrupted so that timely assistance can be provided if needed. There will be no need to wear anything or turn anything on or off.

“Our work will be among the first few projects in the world conducting large-scale common-sense reasoning in automatic human activity recognition,” says Chief Investigator and University of Adelaide Senior Lecturer Dr. Michael Sheng.

The system is intended to be low-cost and unobtrusive and without the privacy issues and intensive monitoring of video surveillance, or the cost and complexity of robots (see “Will the elderly ever accept care from robots?“).

The technology will be first investigated in a laboratory setting and then in hospital trials with geriatric patients.

This seems like a more practical (and perhaps more secure) use of The Internet of Things (as in the SigFox network) — actually, more like The Intranet of Things, since it’s presumably a private service.

The research is being funded under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project scheme over three years, in a collaboration with the University of Queensland and the University of Washington.

Another reason seniors might prefer to stay at home.