Sensors to Live Independently

One of the biggest fears of getting older is becoming a burden.  Increasingly in today’s world the elderly want to live independently.  But that doesn’t help their children if they have to worry the whole time.

However, today there are developments that are making this possible.  With a new depth sensor that hangs over the front door, walking speed and falling can be tracked.  Inside, infrared motion sensors track their movements between rooms.  Their mattresses can also be fitted with sensors to monitor heart rates and sleep patterns.

It’s like having an in-house nurse monitoring them but without the cost or lack of independence.

Why not live alone/independently with a spouse if one is able to but just a bit frail?  It certainly eases the mind of family members living far off or busy with other commitments.  Any kind of changes that look even potentially concerning send off an email to family members.  Eventually these sensors will be able to assist in house maintenance too, notifying a family member that a bulb needs changing or a faucet is leaking.  Likewise Virtual Reality Systems are being adapted for senior home use, enabling them to take “virtual vacations” or enjoy nostalgic trips down memory lanes.

As founding director of the Age Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Joseph Coughlin pointed out: “Technology has enabled us to live longer.  We researchers are now making it a priority to ensure that technology helps us all live longer, better.”

Indeed, research has shown that sensor technology, can enable people to live safely in their homes for two additional full years than they would be able to otherwise.

And now, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are working on the next step – to help in arthritic, balance and other such related-medical problems that can require assistance.

Under Dr. Karen Liu’s leadership (a professor of interactive computing), a staircase is being developed which reduces the effort needed to climb it! This is the start of many great things to come which will help the elderly maintain independence for as long as possible.