UK project to develop wireless sensors for 'smart' homes for elderly

Money just continues to flow into R&D for home health monitoring technologies. A team at the University of Portsmouth, England, has received a grant of 128,000 pounds ($184,000) to develop sensors and software to create "smart" homes that track falls in elderly people who want to live independently.

The team, led by Dr. Jim Briggs and supported by home technology vendor PassivSystems, faces a particular challenge in creating a sensor that can distinguish between someone who has fallen and someone who's simply lying down. "This isn't about installing CCTV cameras in every room; it's about giving relatives and carers a graphic representation of what is going on--that Mum got out of bed at 8 a.m. and boiled the kettle at 8:30 a.m. like she does every day," Briggs tells London's Daily Mail newspaper. "But we want the sensors to be capable of not necessarily ringing alarm bells if Mum happens to feel like a lie-in one day or decides to drink juice instead of tea."

And therein lies the challenge. Briggs and PassivSystems will use the grant money to test various sensors in a "living laboratory" to help determine what types of readings are normal in various environments. PassivSystems will apply to this project some of what the company has already learned from a collaboration at the University of Sussex that has produced wireless heartbeat sensors. Software associated with the sensors can set off burglar alarms in case of emergency or turn off the heat and lights in unoccupied rooms.

For more information:
- check out this Daily Mail story