Sunday, February 15, 2009

Technology-Assisted, Friendly Environment for the Elderly

There is fascinating, innovative technology, TAFETA (Technology-Assisted, Friendly Environment for the Third Age), being created and tested by a Canadian research partnership (Elisabeth Bruyere Research Institute, University of Ottawa and SCO Health Services, and Carleton University).

This partnership created a "smart apartment" in an Ottawa hospital. The apartment, designed to help patients prepare to go home, contains several electronic sensors ("helpers"). As the article states, "there are many lessons that could be translated into private homes".

These electronic "helpers" include:
* A voice that lets you know the refrigerator door has been left opened
* A pressure sensitive mat by the bed turns on a lighted pathway to the bathroom
* A motion detection sensor and timer. If away from bed too long (perhaps due to a fall), an automatic call goes out to emergency service

The research team is also creating software that would track small changes in movement that could be indicative of the start of a stroke or of a weakness predicting a fall and fracture. How about a smell monitor to detect rotting food?

The researchers believe the benefits of such a "smart home" could be "reduced medical costs, accident prevention and early detection of illness". They envision a delivery by components selected to meet specific needs and budgets.