Keeping Track of Aging Family Members

Sensors and data analytics for seniors living on their own provide independence and peace of mind.

There’s no shortage of creepy/scary places your mind can go when you read about the IoT and home automation. Will a hacker access my home security camera feed? Will companies be able to track my every move, down to what I get out of the fridge at 3 a.m.?

But there are some pretty cool applications out there. Take, for example, applications being used to track seniors. Unless you live in a sitcom, you might not have the luxury of living within yelling distance of your aging parents, in-laws or grandparents. Have you ever gotten worried when they didn’t return your call? I definitely have.

Products such as GreenPeak Technologies’ Senior Lifestyle Solution use wireless sensors around the home to monitor activities and alert family members if there are changes to their loved one's norms. The system can bring attention to sudden incidents, but also to changes taking place over time, such as downward trends in eating habits.

At April’s Open IoT and Embedded Linux Conference, IBM’s Andy Stanford-Clark spoke about how important it is to look at context to make data useful. He explained that monitoring the elderly using sensors—which rooms they use, when they turn on appliances or open windows—builds a model of normality. “If my mom and dad haven’t had their cup of tea by 10 a.m., something’s up,” said Stanford-Clark. (That may make more sense in the UK, but the sentiment is the same.) A sense of the normal baseline activities, along with data analytics, lets people quickly pinpoint when things are amiss with family members.

These insights will be valuable in delivering security, independence and peace of mind when you can’t communicate or visit all day long.

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