‘Smart House’ Monitoring Systems Could be Marketed by Next Year
A "smart house" designed to keep tabs on elderly patients and those with chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or osteoarthritis may be available to the public as early as next year, the AP/Nando Times reports. For more than a year, the Charlottesville, Va.-based Medical Automation Research Center has been working to develop a monitoring system that could be installed easily in almost any house. The center's business partner, Carillion Biomedical Institute, may begin marketing a basic version of the system by 2003. A smart house system would consist of sensors installed in strategic positions throughout the home -- for example, in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets to monitor food choices or at leg level to monitor how residents are walking. The sensors would transmit the data to a monitoring center, which would analyze the information for any behavioral changes that might indicate a developing problem. The monitoring center could then send health reports back to the smart house resident or to concerned family members. The monitoring system would also be programmed to quickly notify family members if the data suggested that the resident could be in trouble -- for example, if the resident did not get out of bed or stayed in the bathroom too long. A basic system, using motion detectors only, would cost about $300, with users paying additional fees for monitoring and analysis of the data, according to project supervisor Robin Felder. Other types of sensors, such as those to analyze residents' walking gaits, monitor their blood pressure and check whether they are taking their medications, could come later, Felder said (Kahn, AP/Nando Times, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.