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Personal Emergency Response System:
The Future of In-Home Monitoring
By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 2)

The sky’s the limit for the future of this device that will one day accurately detect when someone has fallen, along with monitoring other situations as well. Many of America’s top technology companies are presently creating and experimenting with thousands of pieces of remote monitoring equipment. One of the biggest challenges these companies are experiencing is that robotics, monitors, and machines are unable to recognize what would be considered “normal” behavior in each person, their activities of daily living, and/or any variations in their routine or environment. In order for technology to be able to detect these subtle changes in the day-to-day life of a human, a whole new level of development must be reached in creating and testing such adaptive devices. The long-term goal is to invent advanced computing techniques for automatic configuration, filtering, trending, adaptive modeling, and pattern recognition that will have the ability to perceive changes of interest to caregivers, ultimately helping to reduce their own stress level, along with providing a guaranteed safety mechanism. Another goal is for a successful device to have the same amount of cost-effectiveness as the current safety and PERS equipment has, as well as being just as easy to use. It will take some time to overcome certain obstacles, such as the fact that current motion sensors can only tell that somebody may be in a room, however, the identity of the person and their precise location in the room can not be definitively discerned. Also, while these new devices will probably rely heavily upon the use of existing security systems, the infrastructure of such systems will need to be greatly overhauled through highly improved technology, because they are presently set up to detect only simple events, and lack the ability to recognize complex patterns and trends over time.

Some of the systems being tested are using wireless security sensors along with a security panel, and have all been proven to work well so far. These systems are easy to install and configure. The sensors used include micro door sensors, motion sensors, and door/window sensors. All sensors are battery powered and communicate with the panel wirelessly. Sensors cover three specific points in the home: 1) exterior doors, 2) kitchen use, 3) motion throughout the residence. Kitchen use is monitored with both motion sensors, and micro door sensors (small open/close detection sensors) mounted on the refrigerator, silverware drawer, and on a commonly used food cupboard or pantry. The data transmission uses a two-way page modem in the security panel, which pages all events to a central location using the two-way page network. Although some geographic constraints may exist regarding the use of the system and where it may be placed, the sensors located in specific areas around the home still provide easy installation and affordable data collection. The system includes a password-protected secure web-site that caregivers can use to check in on the homes of elderly or physically challenged loved ones. The door sensors work well if someone with Alzheimer’s tries to wonder from the home, and some of the sensors placed in the kitchen can actually help monitor a person’s eating habits, so that caregivers will be able to know if they are really getting nourishment, and more specifically, which foods they are consuming. The results from all this testing have built an exciting foundation for in-home monitoring of those with physical challenges, illness, or who are elderly. All of this will undoubtedly help to lower caregiver stress, as well as saves lives, and the good news is that this future of PERS is closer than we realize.


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