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Unobtrusive monitoring devices attract interest

An Australian research team is working on a non-intrusive home monitoring device that sends alerts to carers when loved ones are inactive for abnormally long periods of time.

The monitoring devices are housed in boxes the shape of a small book and plugged into power points in commonly used areas of the house. The sensors in the device detect motion, vibration, light and temperature, amongst other things.

Professor Ingrid Zukerman, who is part of the team from Monash University working on the device, said: “The sensors collect data about the normal patterns of behaviour of a person over time.”

She said after a model of behaviour of the person is generated, any significant departures from this behaviour, such as periods of inactivity, are noted.

The system has been designed with privacy and ease-of-use in mind, as it doesn’t require cameras to be installed or the user to keep a wearable device on their person, in keeping with concerns raised in early surveys with seniors.

St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and Melbourne and aged-care providers Vasey RSL Care and Old Colonists have all expressed interest in the research.

Associate professor Steven Faux, director of rehabilitation and pain medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney said monitoring the movements of patients in nursing homes and hospital rooms would help to protect patients’ safety.

“Currently, we rely on passing staff members to discover patients or residents after they have experienced an incident,” he said. “The value of the sensors is that the movements can be detected without affecting a patient’s privacy, allowing staff to monitor movement and potentially dangerous situations.”

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