CeBIT: Smart apartment keeps an eye on the elderly

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CeBIT: Smart apartment keeps an eye on the elderly

Fraunhofer researchers show off intelligent living spaces.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering has showed off new technologies at CeBIT designed to help elderly people retain their independence and mobility.

The average age in first world societies is continually increasing, and most elderly people prefer to retain their independence as long as possible. But there is an increasing problem with friends and relatives keeping an eye on their loved ones.

Motion detectors, floor coverings with RFID chips and sensors embedded into everyday items can ensure that anyone in trouble receives help in an emergency.

For instance, if a person's walking stick falls onto the floor, the owner is asked if everything is all right through a speaker. If there is no response the emergency services are contacted automatically.

Another example is a cup that can detect drinking motion to monitor liquid intake and warn someone if they should be drinking more fluids.

Eric Ras, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute, demonstrated some of the new developments incorporated into a mini version of an intelligent apartment.

The concept focuses around establishing a person's habits and routines and flagging a potential problem if there are deviations from these procedures, even if the person is not necessarily aware of them.

The system can respond to these breaks from routine in a variety of ways, either by providing a warning to the person or contacting loved ones or emergency services, depending on the perceived severity of the situation.
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