Development of an open technology sensor suite for assisted living: a student-led research project.14 Aug 2017
Many countries have a rapidly ageing population, placing strain on health services and creating a growing market for assistive technology for older people. We have, through a student-led, 12-week project for 10 students from a variety of science and engineering backgrounds, developed an integrated sensor system to enable older people, or those at risk, to live independently in their own homes for longer, while providing reassurance for their family and carers. We provide details on the design procedure and performance of our sensor system and the management and execution of a short-term, student-led research project. Detailed information on the design and use of our devices, including a door sensor, power monitor, fall detector, general in-house sensor unit and easy-to-use location-aware communications device, is given, with our open designs being contrasted with closed proprietary systems. A case study is presented for the use of our devices in a real-world context, along with a comparison with commercially available systems. We discuss how the system could lead to improvements in the quality of life of older users and increase the effectiveness of their associated care network. We reflect on how recent developments in open source technology and rapid prototyping increase the scope and potential for the development of powerful sensor systems and, finally, conclude with a student perspective on this team effort and highlight learning outcomes, arguing that open technologies will revolutionize the way in which technology will be deployed in academic research in the future.