MHC , a senior care foundation in California created technology-enabled residential units in its Union City and Covina locations to assess how the combination of sensors , mobile devices and software can meet the diverse needs of seniors and their families.
The program brings together complementary smart home technologies , including:
• Environmental controls and sensors: These include remotely programmable thermostats and temperature/humidity sensors in multiple locations throughout residents’ apartments. These devices keep the living space comfortable , while controlling utility costs. Sensors also improve safety by detecting windows left open or high humidity , factors that may increase the risk of a fall on an overly damp floor.
• Visual doorbell: Doorbells in MHC pilot units are linked to apartment lighting so that selected lights can flash when a visitor rings the doorbell , providing a visual alert for a resident who is hard of hearing. A camera and microphone at the door lets residents launch video chats with an arriving visitor from their smartphone or tablet , even when residents are away from home. This capability enhances both security and social connectedness.
• Bed sensors: Sensors embedded in residents’ mattresses or in a “smart mat” added to their bedding can track respiration rate , heart rate , sleep duration , motion during sleep , and the number of times a resident gets in and out of bed during the night.
• Digital medication dispensers: These devices help seniors manage their often complex medication regimens , alerting them if they forget to take a pill at the appropriate time. Devices hold a 90-day supply of up to 15 medications , alerting both users and caregivers via text and email when it’s time to reorder. Authorized users can also change or discontinue dosages from a browser or mobile app.
• Additional sensors: MHC is also experimenting with sensors on stoves , in refrigerator doors , under sinks and elsewhere to track resident activity and help prevent accidents. Caregivers can also monitor a resident’s presence in his or her apartment using a key fob or smartphone.
In the future , these types of sensors can be integrated with personal health monitors: digital scales , blood pressure monitors , blood glucose monitors and wearables such as Fitbit , that can transmit data wirelessly and generate the insight caregivers need to provide more attentive care.