Sensor helps senior citizens to stay independent
More than 70 percent of senior citizens who live alone wish to stay in their home as long as possible. However, with age also increases the likelihood of an accident: More than 40 percent of 80-years old persons suffer a plunge per year. In many cases, these persons are unable to trigger an emergency call for several reasons – they can be injured or unconscious or they do not have an emergency call device with them. Sensors integrated in the floor detect emergency situations, but they are expensive and associated with high installation effort.
As a solution, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production technology and Automation (IFA) are developing a sensor box that will reliably detect an emergency situation and activate an alert unit. Like a smoke detector, Fraunhofer’s safe@home box is installed at the ceiling. The system utilizes optical and acoustical sensors that can determine position and location of a person within a room. By doing so, the technology detects plunges and similar accidents within seconds; in addition it detects motionlessness over an certain time span. It also reacts to help calls from the person.
In order to eliminate false alerts, the system first contacts the person with a computerized voice which asks for the conditions. If the person does not react, the system triggers the emergency call.
Prototypes of the system are under test since more than a year. To generate statistically significant detection rates, the researchers also simulated emergency situations. The system is expected to be ready for the market by end of the current year.