Automated homes will permit elderly to live independently

February 14th, 2009 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 14 (IANS) In future, automated homes will enable the growing population of elderly to live independently - even if they are frail and regularly need assistance.

These systems remind residents to regularly take their medicine, for example, or send out an alert if someone falls. The technology remains discreetly hidden - until it is needed.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) in Kaiserslautern, Germany, are creating these intelligent environments.

“Through this technique we make the environment intelligent. Using many hidden sensors, the system monitors the daily routine of the occupants,” said Martin Becker, who heads the research department “Ambient Assisted Living” at IESE.

“Risks can be detected and it is possible to assess whether the situation appears to be deteriorating, or most importantly, whether an emergency exists,” he said.

One particular challenge is to develop a system that not only functions safely and reliably but also continuously adapts to changing requirements.

If so desired, functions of the sensor can be manually controlled by a computer screen on the nightstand. Should users prefer not to concern themselves with the technology, they can leave everything to the system, which operates autonomously.

The system can also detect whether an occupant has fallen, communicate this information via telephone or Internet to a pre-selected contact person. This may be a relative, a neighbour, a care facility or an emergency medical centre, said a Fraunhofer release.

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