Written by IEEE | July 23, 2018

Seniors often appreciate the ability to stay in their homes and live independently. This independence isn’t without its challenges; the biggest being the threat of falling or having a health episode at home without anyone knowing. Fortunately, this is an area in which artificial intelligence and machine learning stand to make a difference, and soon.

Looking back, early fall alert buttons were comically large and cumbersome to wear, though the concept was good. Today’s versions are an improvement – they’re smaller and easier to carry, making them more likely to be used. Still, some of the most exciting potential is in wearable and non-wearable sensors that are fully automatic and don’t require the carrier to take any action.

For example, a study from the University of Warwick focused on the ideal placement of inertial sensors on the body to identify fallers using AI. In their walking test, researchers found that the most effective way to assess fall risk is to use the velocity measurement picked up by a sensor placed on the shins. Meanwhile, for detecting falls for those standing still or trying to stand up (or sit down), linear acceleration data from a sensor on the lower back is the most accurate.

Insights like these will help shape the wearable sensors of the future and make them more accurate.

Another route is the non-wearable system, which uses sensors in a senior’s environment to detect their status at any given time. Though some seniors may view the monitoring as creepy, others like it because it’s less obtrusive. Non-wearable systems can be based on one of four inputs: ambient noise (vibrations from falls), WiFi (signal strength), vision (images from a camera) and radio frequency identification (RFID – using the Doppler frequency value).

The first three inputs are either too complex or not accurate enough, according to researchers from Nanjing University. Thus, they set out to refine a method for using a passive RFID tag hanging around the subject’s neck to spot falls. In their study, they found that, focusing on Doppler frequency, “the value of a sudden fall was significantly higher than that of the other movements,” enabling them to distinguish the falling action based on the change in speed.

By establishing which data is meaningful and consistent (in this case, readings from the RFID tag), researchers can train AI systems to have a much better sense of when an emergency is taking place.

To learn more about how artificial intelligence is improving care for people in their golden years, read our 2018 study on Generation AI.

INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCES

Exceptional Infrastructure Challenges, Technology and Humanity

The Global Impact of IEEE's 802 Standards

Scenes of our Cyber Lives: The Security Threats and Technology Solutions Protecting Us

How Millennial Parents are Embracing Health and Wellness Technologies for Their Generation Alpha Kids

Space Exploration, Technology and Our Lives

Global Innovation and the Environment

How Technology, Privacy and Security are Changing Each Other (And Us)

Find us in booth 31506, LVCC South Hall 3 and experience the Technology Moon Walk

Virtual and Mixed Reality

How Robots are Improving our Health

IEEE Experts and the Robots They are Teaching

See how millennial parents around the world see AI impacting the lives of their tech-infused offspring

Take the journey from farm to table and learn how IoT will help us reach the rising demand for food production

Watch technical experts discuss the latest cyber threats

Explore how researchers, teachers, explorers, healthcare and medical professionals use immersive technologies

Follow the timeline to see how Generation AI will be impacted by technology

Learn how your IoT data can be used by experiencing a day in a connected life

Listen to technical experts discuss the biggest security threats today

See how tech has influenced and evolved with the Games

Enter our virtual home to explore the IoT (Internet of Things) technologies

Explore an interactive map showcasing exciting innovations in robotics

Interactively explore A.I. in recent Hollywood movies

Get immersed in technologies that will improve patients' lives