Engineers have developed a new wireless monitoring system that can detect if a person falls and alert emergency services through an auxiliary service without the need for a call button.
The fall-detection system created by Brad Mager and Neal Patwari of the University of Utah employs an array of radio-frequency sensors installed around the perimeter of a room at heights corresponding to someone standing or lying down. The sensors are able to detect a person’s location by analyzing changes in the signal strength between each sensor in the network, and, using algorithms specifically developed for the system, can distinguish a serious fall from simply lying down on the ground.
“With this detection system, a person’s location in the room or building can be pinpointed with high accuracy, eliminating the need to wear a device,” Mager, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering and first author of this study, said. “This technology can also indicate whether a person is standing up or lying down.”
The researchers hope the new system will help reduce the severity of fall-related injuries among the elderly by providing a more automated and fool-proof method of alerting emergency services. While falling is considered one of the leading causes of injury and death in people age 65 and older, a reported 80 percent of elderly adults who owned call buttons didn’t use the device when they had a serious fall, largely because they weren’t wearing their devices at the time of the fall.
“The idea of ‘aging-in-place,’ in which someone can avoid moving to a nursing home and live in their own home, is growing,” Patwari, senior author of the study and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said. “Ideally, the environment itself would be able to detect a fall and send an alert to a caregiver. What’s remarkable about our system is that a person doesn’t need to remember to wear a device.”
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