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New 'Smart' Homes For Dementia Sufferers

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A sensing system that assists people who suffer from dementia will be among the smart home technologies on display at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Pioneers 09 showcase event in London. Care homes in London and the West Country have been using the smart system as part of a trial over the past year, and its developers say it could be installed in residential homes. Developed at the University of Bath, the smart system is designed to monitor a person's movements around the home; provide voice prompts, such as for turning off the water or lights; and even switching off appliances to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

The Bath team believes the sensing system will enable people with dementia to live on their own, and ease some of the burden on families, healthcare professionals, and healthcare budgets. Operating on a "plug in and use" basis, with minimal visibility or intrusiveness, the sensing system makes use of the voices of relatives or friends to deliver reassuring messages and influence behavior. "The next step is to make sure the systems can be managed by nontechnical local authority carers and healthcare staff," says Roger Orpwood, the lead scientist for the project.

From University of Bath
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