Researchers Use Kinect, Doppler Radar to Help Elderly

Researchers at the University of Missouri and independent living community TigerPlace have been using motion-sensing technology to monitor test and monitor changes in elderly residents’ health for several years. Now, researchers have turned to video game technology combined with security systems as an effective way to detect the early onset of illness and to watch for fall risk in seniors. Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering, is working with doctoral student Erik Stone to use Kinect to monitor behavior and routine changes in patients at TigerPlace.

“The Kinect uses infrared light to create a depth image that produces data in the form of a silhouette, instead of a video or photograph,” said Stone. “This alleviates many seniors’ concerns about privacy when traditional web camera-based monitoring systems are used.”

Another doctoral student, Liang Liu, is working with Mihail Popescu, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and the Department of Health Management and Informatics in the MU School of Medicine, to develop a fall detection system that uses Doppler radar to detect warning signs such as changes in walking, bending and other movements. Different human body parts create unique images that can be recognized by Doppler radar. Since falls combine a series of body part motions, the radar system can recognize a fall based on distinct “signatures.”

“Falls are especially dangerous for older adults and if they don’t get help immediately, the chances of serious injury or death are increased,” said Liu. “If emergency personnel are informed about a fall right away, it can significantly improve the outcome for the injured patient.”

Erik Stone, a doctoral student in the MU College of Engineering, recently won the best paper award for his research using the Kinect to detect fall risk in seniors. Stone’s study, “Evaluation of an Inexpensive Depth Camera for Passive In-Home Fall Risk Assessment,” won the best paper award at the Pervasive Health Conference, in Dublin, Ireland in May. Liu collaborated with GE Global Research and co-authors Tarik Yardibi and Paul Cuddihy.

Source: Health Canal

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