New in-home AI tool monitors the health of elderly residents

April 5, 2023
System can effectively monitor activities such as sleeping, eating and frequency of bathroom use.

Engineers are harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and wireless technology to unobtrusively monitor elderly people in their living spaces and provide early detection of emerging health problems.

The new system, built by researchers at the University of Waterloo, follows an individual’s activities accurately and continuously as it gathers vital information without the need for a wearable device and alerts medical experts to the need to step in and provide help.

The new system represents a major step forward and works this way: first, a wireless transmitter sends low-power waveforms across an interior space, such as a long-term care room, apartment or home.

As the waveforms bounce off different objects and the people being monitored, they’re captured and processed by a receiver. That information goes into an AI engine which deciphers the processed waves for detection and monitoring applications.

The system, which employs extremely low-power radar technology, can be mounted simply on a ceiling or by a wall and doesn’t suffer the drawbacks of wearable monitoring devices, which can be uncomfortable and require frequent battery charging.

Waterloo researchers have partnered with a Canadian company, Gold Sentintel, to commercialize the technology, which has already been installed in several long-term care homes.

A paper on the work, AI-Powered Non-Contact In-Home Gait Monitoring and Activity Recognition System Based on mm-Wave FMCW Radar and Cloud Computing, appears in the IEEE Internet of Things Journal. 

University of Waterloo release