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Surprising Science

Using Sensor Networks To Track Seniors In Their Homes

Robot home care may be coming eventually, but right now, scientists are working on a more affordable way to use technology to help keep elders independent.

What’s the Latest Development?

Scientists at the University of Adelaide are combining sensor technology and AI software to create a network that can help individual objects track what a senior is doing in their home, determine whether their routine has been interrupted, and alert the appropriate people for assistance if needed. The research, which is being conducted along with the University of Washington, is funded by the Australian government. Tests will be conducted in a lab setting and then in hospitals using elderly patients.

What’s the Big Idea?

The goal of the sensor network is to have something in the home that’s as simple and unobtrusive as possible, two things that can’t always be said for video surveillance and proposed in-home robot care. Also, seniors won’t need to turn anything on or off, or wear any kind of alert device. Chief investigator Michael Sheng says, “Our work will be among the first few projects in the world conducting large-scale common-sense reasoning in automatic human activity recognition.” Even better, it could serve as a practical and secure implementation of the “Internet of Things” concept currently gaining ground across various disciplines.

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